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Hagel Is a Republican, But It’s Easy to Understand Why He Wouldn’t Be One Now

John McCain denies [1] that Hagel is a Republican:

McCain scoffed at claims that Hagel would be a Republican voice in a mostly Democratic Cabinet, saying to “allege that Hagel is somehow a Republican — that is a hard one to swallow.”

Some of this could be explained by McCain’s bitterness that Hagel didn’t support him in 2008, but this also happens to be representative of a lot of Republicans’ views of Hagel. Because Hagel rejected some of the failed and hard-line policies of more hawkish Republicans, and because he hasn’t been willing to adopt the party line on certain foreign policy issues, the people who helped wreck the party with their awful foreign policy ideas no longer consider him to be one of them. If being a Republican required one to embrace McCain’s preference for reckless and aggressive policies, there would be no incentive for foreign policy realists and skeptics to belong to the party. Fortunately for the Republicans, that isn’t the case, and there is a Republican foreign policy tradition of prudence and restraint waiting to be revived. Unfortunately, some of the people most likely to revive it have been effectively exiled from the party, which has the effect of making things worse in the near term.

Of course, Hagel is a Republican for as long as he is registered that way and wants to claim the label, and he obviously belongs to a tradition of Republican internationalism with which he consciously identifies [2]. The question to ask might be: why would someone like Hagel still want to be associated with the GOP in its current state? As necessary and desirable as reform of Republican foreign policy is, there is a danger that the GOP’s foreign policy maladies will grow worse in response to Hagel’s likely nomination in the near term before they are remedied. Perhaps this is a necessary stage in the cure of these maladies, as Hagel’s nomination could provide the occasion to expose and then discredit the fanaticism of Republican hard-liners.

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13 Comments To "Hagel Is a Republican, But It’s Easy to Understand Why He Wouldn’t Be One Now"

#1 Comment By SDS On December 18, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

YES; it is a necessary stage in the cure of these maladies……

McCain is off his meds again…. When he doesn’t feel it necessary to play to the Israeli lobby; they’ll be friends agian….

#2 Comment By CorkyAgain On December 18, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

Oh, the irony!

Remember when McCain was the Democrats’ favorite “Republican”?

#3 Comment By Noah172 On December 18, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

McCain says that Hagel is no Republican. Let’s compare:

Supports open borders? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

Free trade? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

No Child Left Behind? McCain, check; Hagel, no.

Medicare Part D? McCain, no; Hagel, no.

Iraq AUMF? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

Bush tax cuts? McCain, no; Hagel, check.

Exploding Bush deficits? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

TARP? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

Convict Clinton of impeachment charges? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

Kosovo intervention? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

Patriot Act? McCain, check; Hagel, check.

On the lion’s share of major issues in the Clinton and Bush years, McCain and Hagel had identical records. On only three major items that I can recall did either or both cut against Bush policy and/or disagree with each other — the tax cuts, NCLB, and Medicare Part D. On one of those the two men were in agreement against Bush (Medicare); on another, McCain was the Bush-defying “maverick” (taxes); and on only one, NCLB, did Hagel go off the rez while McCain stayed loyal (and that, needless to say, was an awful idea opposed by many principled conservatives).

But now the Zionists have decided to hate Hagel, so he must be excommunicated. As clear a sign as any who pulls the puppet strings in the Republican Party.

#4 Comment By William Dalton On December 18, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

If Chuck Hagel remains in the Republican Party, it might well be for the same reason Ron Paul returned to the Republican Party and remained although given numerous invitations (from both directions) to desert. There is no credible alternative. Old school conservatism is deader in the Democratic Party than in the Republican (ask Jim Webb), and there is a groundswell, particularly among the young, for the GOP to return to is pre-Cold War roots. A merger of Hagel, Paul and Pat Buchanan adherents would make a formidable block, if it made common cause to take command of the party.

#5 Comment By Garland On December 19, 2012 @ 1:18 am

What’s especially repulsive is the only thing that makes Hagel less a Republican than McCain is that he is not a maniacal warmonger, just a run of the mill establishment interventionist. In every other way McCain is as liberal as Hagel or worse.

#6 Comment By Cliff On December 19, 2012 @ 7:31 am

According to the Washington Post,

“Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term”.

So, TAC-ers, welcome to the Left!

#7 Comment By icarusr On December 19, 2012 @ 9:23 am

“McCain scoffed”

That seems to be redundant. These days, Republicans in general and McCain in particular can do no more than “scoff”, which seems to be their preferred mode of communication. And, of course, they demonstrate the same exclusionary zeal in respect of heretics in their own midst that they do in respect of any “Other” in America. Poor? Minority? Educated? Urban? Woman? McCain-Palin also scoffed at the whole lot; Romney-Ryan scoffed at the whole lot and still more.

It is possible that there are Republican internationalists, or realists, or non-warmongers; it is even possible that they can credibly remain Republican and try to preserve something of the old Republicanism. But – two presidential election defeats, two congressional election defeats – and Republican leaders still “scoff”. This is not a mode of communication given to reform.

#8 Comment By JN On December 19, 2012 @ 9:57 am

In our county, we were able to elect a RP republican as state committeeman (majority, not plurality) within a fairly hostile establishment environment. In the neighboring, more rural county, they swept the establishment out, from the chairman down. I hope that similar things are happening all over the country.

#9 Comment By CharleyCarp On December 19, 2012 @ 10:28 am

The first rule of Israel Lobby is you can’t talk about Israel Lobby.

#10 Comment By Chris On December 19, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Doesn’t the fact that Obama wants to nominate Hagel, when he clearly doesn’t need to for political reasons, suggest that Hagel either isn’t a republican, or isn’t much of one these days?

#11 Comment By Wesley On December 19, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

If Hagel was a Democrat, he would probably be to the left of the median Democrat on foreign policy and national security issues.

#12 Comment By grumpy realist On December 19, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

Geez these guys are starting to sound like the Soviet Politiburo…

When your political party has gotten to the point of arguing over who is the most “pure” and throwing out everyone who doesn’t meet your standards, you’re not a political party. You’re a cult.

#13 Comment By HyperIon On December 20, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

Chris wrote: Doesn’t the fact that Obama wants to nominate Hagel, when he clearly doesn’t need to for political reasons, suggest that Hagel either isn’t a republican, or isn’t much of one these days?

Not necessarily. Maybe Obama is just a die-hard reacher across the aisle. Maybe he’s doing it because he thinks Hagel is the best candidate available.