November 29th, 2007
05:03 PM ET
2 years ago

Hagel criticizes 'arrogant' Bush White House

Sen. Hagel did not mince words with his assessment of the Bush administration Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Chuck Hagel, a leading Republican lawmaker who has come out against the Iraq war, had some harsh words for the Bush White House Wednesday, calling it "one of the most arrogant" administrations he's ever seen.

"I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus - almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade," Hagel said during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Hagel supported the 2002 congressional resolution that authorized the invasion of Iraq the following year, but earlier this year he called Bush's plan to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

The two-term Nebraska senator flirted with a presidential bid last spring, but ultimately announced in September he has no plans to seek the White House and intends to leave the Senate when his term ends in 2009.

Speaking Wednesday, Hagel said the administration "squandered" opportunities following the attacks on 9/11.

"I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp," he said. "Every poll in the world showed 90 percent of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America."

"There's where they have failed the country," Hagel continued. "They've squandered the time and the opportunity that they had, and the next president is going to take four years to not only dig out from under that."

Despite Hagel’s insistence he has no plans to run for president, speculation persists that he and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may pair up for a third-party Independent bid. The two even reportedly had dinner Wednesday night.

"Bloomberg's got the money - I think it'd be Bloomberg-Hagel," the senator joked when asked about the speculation.

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Chuck Hagel
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. red33,cedar rapids, ia

    Thank goodness, we don't have to worry about Chuck Hagel making decisions to protect our country. He 'runs' as a Republican, but like many, he is a 'closet' liberal. People like him care little about our country, only about their careers.

    November 29, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. JD Rugby ND

    Outstanding! Senator Hagel is my Republican hero of the week. Bush is the worst American president in history. Iraq is his albatross of his own doing.

    November 29, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. deroy WPB, FL

    hagel is a very odd guy sort of like bush.

    November 29, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. Dennis, Colorado Springs CO

    The Bush is more than just a complete arrogant failure, as Senator Hagel rightly points out. It is also a criminal cabal, much like those at the tops of mafia families. They need to be held accountable for a change. They should be dragged into court to compel them to comply with the numerous congressional subpeonas they brazenly have been ignoring.

    November 29, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. Jim, Medford, OR

    Hagel is right.

    November 29, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  6. Walt, Belton, TX

    Old Hagel's even starting to look like his brother-in-politics, Teddy from Massachusetts. Been sounding like him for years! Switch parties, Chuckle, and make everybody happy!

    November 29, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Brian, Milwaukee, WI

    Hagel is free to become the Democrat that is inside him waiting to get out.

    November 29, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  8. conservative in Nebraska

    What a sore loser! He could't get the nod to be a contender so he slams everybody! He would have lost his senate seat here in Nebraska if there would have been a next time!

    November 29, 2007 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. Mike Brooks, Eugene, Oregon

    Michael Torrance, CA – Don't feel too bad. I'm a life long Democrat and the very thought of Hillary Clinton on the 2008 ticket makes me wish for a third party. In fact, there is a national movement by Democrats called taking "The Pledge". That means we don't vote for *any* Democratic candidate, even at the local level, if CLinton is the nominee. I've taken the pledge and so have most of my friends. (and, in anser to the feminists who say...we might loose "choice" and gays who think that another Republican will harm "gay rights" we say "That's the whole idea" – you try and stick us with a corporate insider that outsources our jobs and displaces us with guest workers, that floods us with millions of expensive illegals and you can count on a backlash.)

    November 29, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  10. steveo st louis mo

    Hagel. He figured it out.
    Better late than never like the other Republicans Senators who continue to support Bush's foolish policies.

    November 29, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  11. Cris, Colorado Springs, CO

    Because of his continual castigation of the president (a fellow Republican), Chuck Hagel has squandered an opportunity to exert quiet and effective influence with the White House to advance his anti-war agenda. If his cause is so just, why not cultivate a relationship with Bush and exert a positive influence? Hagel is in the same position as the Dems: if things improve in Iraq, he can claim that his incessant criticism led to success; if things deteriorate, he can say that "he told us so." If Hagel was so smart, he would have proposed a brilliant plan two years ago that would have allowed us to win and have our men and women home already WITH VICTORY. Those who lead, do so. Those who CAN'T lead critisize from the Senate.

    November 29, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. Dave, Charlotte, NC

    Chuck Hagel is an honorable man, and a real Republican. Recognizing the error of our current foreign policy is not the same as "turning tail" and running. Our foreign policy has been dead wrong since the end of WWII. You people who believe that the United States is right no matter what we do or how belligerent we are, are blind and deaf. Unfortunately for the rest of us, you aren't mute as well.

    November 29, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. David, Colts Neck, New Jersey

    While I generally support our efforts in Iraq, I do very much agree with Hagel regarding the arrogance of this administration. While I tend to support Rudy now, I do see in him an element of arrogance that the USA simply can not afford going forward. In this regard, I could certainly entertain the idea of supporting a Bloomberg/Hagel ticket. I see them as the only ones who can talk seriously about the issues rather than getting into 6th grade arguments on who did what with illegals.
    If you watch both and Dems and Republicans debate, it reminds me of the debate I witnessed for my elementary school president. The level of discourse of all just stinks. No one is capable to discussing the critical issues of the day in a serious and thoughtful manner. I can only hope that when we finally get to the two major party candidates, that the quality of discussions start being a little more enlightening. I guess we have as much chance of that as Bin Laden converting to Judaism.

    November 29, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. Nancy

    Senator, Go home buddy.. Your time is over. Do you want to join the Hillary campaign.. It will be interesting. You voted for war and now you are against it. Typical Hillary way.. Flip flop.... God Bless America.

    November 29, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    It's too bad only the bomb throwing politicians get headlines. We need less of them, not more.

    November 29, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. Wobbly, Your Town, USA

    Sen Hagel has been right for quite a while on this topic. You people claiming he's a liberal only show your ignorance. And you people claiming Dems are socialists show you don't own a dictionary.

    November 29, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. Markm Greensboro, North Carolina

    I believe that our current candidates do not know the amount of rage the American voters are feeling now.
    I registered in my new state yesterday as an Independent, formerly a Democrat.
    I would most likely vote for Hagel but I have not learned enough about Bloomburg to be sure. Otherwise I would accept Obama and Hagel. It is shaping up to be a wide open race. I hope more candidates step up to the truth.

    November 29, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  18. Alex, Syracuse, NY

    Oh, yes Dave from SC. SSHHH....better not even THINK about disagreeing with the Pres-even that might help Al Quaeda. Ever heard of a Senator McCarthy? Anyone who disagreed with him was a pinko, a red, a commie, unAmerican...you get the point. I think you should go back to school and research the history of this great nation. The founding fathers, who wrote our constitution, said it was our right, nay our DUTY, to dissent (and for all you rednecks out there that means to disagree with our government and our leaders) especially during times of conflict. How dare you malign someone for exercising their constitutional right to express their views. That is, in fact, the most unAmerican, unpatriotic act of all. Being patriotic doesn't mean agreeing with your political leaders. Does my memory fail me, or didn't many Republicans express dissatisfaction, to put it mildly, with Pres. Clinton? Were they being unpatriotic? Exposing hypocrisy, just one more service we like to offer. :)

    November 29, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. James, Mountain View, CA

    As a Democrat, I have a message to all of the Republican conservatives begging for Senator Hagel to change parties:

    Please keep it up. As you boot moderates out of your party, the Democrats' political 'tent' gets bigger and bigger. We'll be happy to take your socially liberal, fiscally conservative civil libertarians. We'll be happy to take your socially conservative, fiscally liberal religious voters. We'll be happy to claim the American political center, as you shove everyone who isn't neoconservative or both socially conservative and fiscally conservative out of your party.

    If the current Administration's incompetence isn't enough to win the 2008 election for Democrats, then the Republicans' devotion to their far right-wing constituency is.

    November 29, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  20. Bill , Covington,LA

    Each time I have ever had the pleasure of listening to Der Hagel I enjoy a wonderful PUKE, Keep up the good work Haglie, it cleans out the system.

    November 29, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  21. billy

    "I love the fact that President Bush went to the Middle East, called Radical Islam out into the yard and kicked their butts up and down the street."

    God help us. Seriously.

    November 29, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  22. Former Rightie, Pittsburgh

    Bush is the Worse President Ever.

    This administration and the blind Republican following has also chased me away from the party. The party has been hijacked by global business motives and is not government of/by/for the people.

    I don't know who I am voting for yet, but it will be Democratic. We need to right the wrongs done in the last 7 years. January 2009 cannot come soon enough.

    November 29, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Good for Senator Hagel. He is just saying out loud what everyone else knows. This administration is arrogant and will say or do anything to have its way. This is a democaracy not a monarchy! Remember when we were told that tt=he oil profits from Iraq would pay for the war? Surprise! they knew very well we would have to pay for all of this.and paying at the pump now! Senator Hagel is one of the few Republicans whose opinion that alot of people listen to so it is interesting to see the right wingers pile on him now. Senator Hagel would be reelected in a cake walk in the red state of Nebraska. Whose is kidding who here??!!

    November 29, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. Tom Masaryk

    To Conservative:
    Do you really think most people in NE are happy with the current state of world affairs? The Senate is probably most responsible and accountable for informing American policy, especially foreign policy. Hagel has called the spades of the last 8 years what they were, predicting the overall erosion of international trust. Do you really contend that Nebraskans would choose either of "the other guys," both of whom have made a political living as neo-con yes men. Lincoln didn't vote for Johanns as governor because they saw how much damage his mis-management as mayor had done. The senate battle in Nebraska would be a battle of records and ideologies–are you happy with the status quo, or should things have been handled differently? (are you a conservative, or a neo-con, and how do you define both)

    November 29, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Tom Masaryk Omaha NE

    To Conservative:
    Do you really think most people in NE are happy with the current state of world affairs? The Senate is probably most responsible and accountable for informing American policy, especially foreign policy. Hagel has called the spades of the last 8 years what they were, predicting the overall erosion of international trust. Do you really contend that Nebraskans would choose either of "the other guys," both of whom have made a political living as neo-con yes men. Lincoln didn't vote for Johanns as governor because they saw how much damage his mis-management as mayor had done. The senate battle in Nebraska would be a battle of records and ideologies–are you happy with the status quo, or should things have been handled differently? (are you a conservative, or a neo-con, and how do you define both)

    November 29, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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