Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hagel Talks Sense

Chuck Hagel was on "Face the Nation" this morning, and acted like the grownup to all the other squabbling five-year olds in the Senate lately. Asked about the nuclear option, the Nebraskan said that he continues to "hope it doesn't come to a vote," saying that he has faith that if Frist and Reid could just sit down and talk this through they'd be able to reach an agreement. Perhaps tellingly, he repeated his worry about "the long-term consequences for the institution of the Senate."

Contrary to the usual Frist & Co. rhetoric, Hagel admitted "neither party's hands are clean on this," saying that indeed, some sixty Clinton nominees were "torpedoed in the Judiciary Committee". He thinks that the president's judicial choices "should get an up or down vote," but several times repeated the need "not to change the rules." Schieffer asked if he would take a position today and say how he would vote if it comes to that: Hagel responded that he has spoken with Frist and "he knows where I stand, and he's going to be the only one who knows where I stand" for now. Before a vote though, Hagel said, "I have confidence that we can be mature and divert this catastrophe."

On the Bolton nomination, Hagel told Schieffer he hasn't yet looked at the new information uncovered since the last public hearing, and has not yet decided how he'll vote on the nomination. Once again, he did not rule out voting to send Bolton out of committee and then voting against him on the floor of the Senate. When Schieffer asked "Is it fair to say he doesn't have your vote yet?" Hagel responded "That's fair to say."

Asked about Bush's "Mission Accomplished" statement two years ago today, Hagel said that he thought that was "not a wise and mature statement," and "far too premature." He sharply criticized the war plans for Iraq, saying "we went in too light" and "we don't know enough [today] about what's going on there to even know what we're doing wrong."

And on 2008? Senator Hagel will be in New Hampshire this week, and continued to say he'll make a decision about running for the White House after the '06 midterms.


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