Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hagel, Congress, War

Peggy Noonan has an interesting commentary about a recent speech (rant?) by Senator Hagel about the war and about Congress. I think it is related to a recent post of mine.

Here is what she concluded about Senator Hagel and about Congress:
"But Mr. Hagel said the most serious thing that has been said in Congress in a long time. This is what we're here for. This is why we're here, to decide, to think it through and take a stand, and if we can't do that, why don't we just leave and give someone else a chance?

Mr. Hagel has shown courage for a long time. He voted for the war resolution in 2002 but soon after began to question how it was being waged. This was before everyone did. He also stood against the war when that was a lonely place to be. Senate Democrats sat back and watched: If the war worked, they'd change the subject; and if it didn't, they'd hang it on President Bush. Republicans did their version of inaction; they supported the president until he was unpopular, and then peeled off. This is almost not to be criticized. It's what politicians do. But it's not what Mr. Hagel did. He had guts."

I suggested in my earlier post that our leaders in Congress were trying to have things both ways. I think she makes the same suggesti0n in the paragraph just above. I'm not sure I want to agree that "this is almost not to be criticized," because on national security matters I think we really need truly responsible leaders who will not run and hide or try to have things both ways. It does seem that Senator Hagel was imploring his colleagues to be such responsible leaders.

Noonan also throws Senator Kerry into her mix with:
"A note too on John Kerry, who, on the floor of the Senate, also talked about Iraq this week, and said he would not run for president. Clearly he saw the lipstick writing on the wall: This is the year of the woman. He also might have been acting on the sense that this is a time of ongoing and incipient political flux. The major parties seem as played out as they are ruthless, and the arc of political fame is truncated: nobodies become somebodies become has-beens before half the country knows their name. The Democrats have no idea what they stand for, the Republicans only remember what they stood for.

But there was Mr. Kerry, liberated by the death of a dream and for once quite human as he tried to tell it the way he actually saw it. Took the mock right out of me. Good for him, and for Mr. Hagel. . . ."
Then, she concludes:
"I wonder if we are seeing the start of a new seriousness."
Hmm, wouldn't that be interesting? I'm afraid I doubt it.

I will join Mrs. Noonan in saying good for Senator Hagel. Surely Senator Hagel's justified rant is not enough. Debating expressions of no confidence in the President, without first engaging a serious debate about waging the war against jihadism, which has been declared against us and much of the rest of the world, seems to me insufficient and damaging to our security interests. Debating expressions of no confidence without first debating the way forward against those who have declared us there enemies, offers no real leadership. What did Senator Hagel offer this week in this regard? What is Senator Hagel's view of our war against jihadism?

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