Hagel is a good, decent, smart man. It's a shame for America to lose him simply because he doesn't fit in either of the major parties we have today, neither of which truly represents the principles, values and dreams of most Americans.
Bill Maher recently sat down with outgoing Nebraska GOP Senator Chuck Hagel to discuss Iraq, his departure and the fate of the Republican Party.
Maher asks: "Did you decide not to run for President because you just saw that a (sic) anti-war Republican could never get the nomination?"
"No," responds Hagel, "I was actually looking for some honest work."
The Republicans, says Hagel, are a party going through a time of "transformation" during a time when the country is struggling with the situation in Iraq. On the subject of GOP candidates continuing to support what Maher considers to be an unwinnable war, Sen. John McCain in particular, Hagel cites McCain's "charm."
"The difference between John McCain and I on the war is very clear: We disagree on that point."
On the prospect of the United States winding down from Iraq, Hagel predicts a "very high toll" taken on the country for a long time ahead.
Adds Hagel, "And I think that's wrong."
Maher segues into Iran: "In the speech President Bush gave last night, I noticed that he slipped Iran into the middle of it. He said 'we have to defeat al Qaeda, counter Iran, and help the Afghan government.'"
Citing a Times of London article that shows preliminary plans to attack over a thousand targets in Iran, Maher implores the Senator: "Please tell me that Congress does have the power to stop President Godzilla if he decides to stomp on one more country, and that he could not get away with that."
"As you all know we are at war in two countries, and not doing particularly well in either war, and I'm not sure the American people are about ready to go to a third war."
"If the President is inching toward a military confrontation with Iran, then I do think that is where the Congress of the United States draws the line."
The Middle East is too volatile for a purely military offensive, says Hagel. Iran is a threat, he says, but it needs to be dealt with strategically and diplomatically.
"I've heard a lot of Republicans in the last year or so say 'I want my party back,'" says Maher. "I imagine you're somewhat in the same camp. Do you think the Republican party has been hijacked by incompetents and religious fanatics?"
"Oh, I think it's been hijacked by incompetency," Hagel concedes. "I think that's what has driven the Republican Party right off the cliff, and we are not who we say we are."
"We've run up the biggest budget debt since FDR, and he had an excuse, and that was the World War and a depression."
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.