How The Mainstream Media Rewards Republicans Like Chuck Hagel For Betraying Conservatives

A lot of conservatives out there are continually scratching their heads and trying to figure out why Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Hagel love to slam a shiv into the back of other conservatives as often as possible.

Well, it’s because they get fawning press coverage when they do it. Just look at this mash note from Newsweek to Chuck Hagel over his opposition to the surge. There are two different things that can inspire the mainstream press to speak this fondly about a Republican: their death and/or their betrayal of other conservatives.

Here’s how the piece, entitled “Rebel Chuck Hagel: A President in the making?” starts:

Chuck Hagel wears pain on his face. The senior senator from Nebraska earned two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, where a mine blew out his eardrums and delivered a sharp burn up the left side of his head. When he is thinking hard, his brow droops low, weighted and weary; when he smiles, his eyes slip into thin slits. His brother Tom calls this Hagel’s “running gear”–the thick mask of intensity he shows the world.

You’ll never hear them laud the service of a pro-war Republican with military service, like Duncan Hunter, in that same manner. But, let’s dig a little deeper:

…Calling Iraq the country’s most divisive issue since Vietnam, he dared his fellow committee members to take a stand. “I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this,” he said. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.” For a moment, his colleagues were silent and stunned. Later that afternoon, Joe Biden, the committee’s Democratic chairman, complimented him on his performance. “I’ve rarely seen such a powerful connection between the heart and the mind,” Biden said. “That was deep in you.”

If Joe Biden is mooning over you and you’re a Republican, that’s always a bad sign. But oh boy, look at this paragraph if you want to see how head over heels in love Newsweek is with Hagel’s stance on the war:

“Viewed from afar, the stuff inside Hagel looks like the stuff that makes Republican presidential candidates. He is a third-generation party member who grew up idolizing Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. He says he was the only student in his Roman Catholic high school to support Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election–and when he cast his first vote, an absentee ballot from Vietnam, it was for Nixon’s winning ticket in 1968. His conservative credentials are impeccable: according to Congressional Quarterly, he voted with the White House more times in 2006 than any other senator. He is manly, Middle American–and when he talks about military matters, he exudes the cool confidence of a warrior-statesman who knows that war is hell.”

Here’s some more random, gushing praise for Hagel from the article:

“…The tale of Hagel’s reluctant rebellion is the story of a man haunted by wars then and now–and of a party at a crossroads, weighing Hagel’s past transgressions of disloyalty against the simple necessities of survival. Chuck Hagel has a lifetime of lessons in loyalty and war.”

“…Hagel makes no apology for his public candor. “The reason we have a very, very thin layer of confidence in leadership by the American public is because we don’t answer their questions and we don’t play straight,” he says. “So when Senator Hagel gets asked the question on a talk show on Sunday morning, ‘What do you really think about what we’re doing?’ I’ve never pulled my punches.”

And the lovestruck close:

“Hagel’s speech at the Foreign Relations Committee last week earned him new fans on the left, some of whom are hoping he’ll run for the White House as an independent–a notion he dismisses as ludicrous. He chafes when it’s suggested he could run as an “antiwar candidate,” and thinks he’s earned the right to define himself. “I’ve always said you’d better listen to the guys who’ve had the experience of having to actually carry the rifle,” he says, “and see the tragedy of war … Down in the mud, having to face the fact his buddy’s brains are next to him because his head’s been shot off.” Hagel speaks these words with sadness. He walks the halls of the Senate with a gray melancholy that makes some who know him wonder if he has the fight in him for a long-shot presidential run. But Hagel is an old soldier who has fought without question before. The wound on his face was born in a flash of fire.”

You know what Hagel is? He’s a guy who voted for the war (and yes, he did vote for the war) because it was popular and then when things started going wrong, he licked his finger, stuck it up in the wind, and decided to go the other way because he thought it would benefit him politically. In that sense, he’s no different than Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and all the other Democrats and Republican squishes who made the same politically based calculation. Only in Hagel’s case, it’s even less forgivable since he’s been to war, he knew the sort of things that could go wrong, he knew how important it was to stick in there once you commit to it, and he voted for the war anyway.

PS: Also, Chuck Hagel, President? Please. He’ll be lucky if he makes it through 2008 without facing a strong primary challenge for his Senate seat. The only way he could be the Republican nominee for President would be if a meteorite hit one of the Republican debates and took out all the other contenders after it was too late for anyone else to get in the race.

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