November 29th, 2007
05:03 PM ET
11 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. Dan, TX

    Obama/Hagel more likely.

    November 29, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. Michael Torrance, CA

    As a lifelong republican, I've thought the same things about Bozo the Bush for years. Thanks to that clown, I'm a former republican!

    November 29, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Perhaps the now, very frank Senator Hagel would care to comment on the Diebold scandal in Ohio during the presidential election of 2004?!

    Hagel is the former CEO of ESS, the parent company of Diebold.

    Well, Senator?!

    November 29, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Heather, Chicago IL

    Still believe the Council on Foreign Relations is some sort of "conspiracy theory?" Re-read this article, and then do yourself a favor and go to and read some of the stated goals of the organization... along with the membership roster. You'll be surprised even more.

    November 29, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Wayne, Greenville TX

    At least there's ONE Republican out there who's not afraid to speak the truth.

    November 29, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Barry, Miami, FL

    I like this guy. Everything I've read about him has been positive. He strikes me as a man of principle who can stand up for what he believes in, regardless of what side they are on. We need someone like him. Run, Chuck, run! This lifelong Democrat Liberal will vote for you!

    November 29, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. A. Harrison, Atlanta, GA

    Now, now, let's not change subjects. Hagels got a point.

    November 29, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    In related news, Conservatives everywhere rate Hagel as one of the biggest RINOs in recent history.

    Bud, just switch parties... it's OK. I think Conservatives would have more respect for you if you did.

    November 29, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Bill, Alabama

    Chuck Hagel has my admiration and respect. He is one of the few Republicans in office who has the honesty and integrity to say what he really thinks about this administration.

    November 29, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. 4Freedom , NY

    It's Hagel who is arrogant. He misinterprets Bush's resolve to do what's right (even when the polls show people don't agree). I would suggest the only reason many people don't agree is because of the liberal slant the socialist democrats and media put on Bush's policy. It was right to pull down Saddam; it's always right to help people escape tyranny. If Hagel was an Iraqi he would be thankful for Bush unless, of course, he was one of Saddam's cohorts.

    November 29, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    I applaud Mr. Hagel for calling it like it is. It takes guts to go against the President. I guess he, like so many of us, has had enough.

    November 29, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. Dave, SC

    Senator, you are on the wrong side of the coin. Why are you arrogant about George W. Bush? He is our president. Show some respect to him.Otherwise it is better if you join the democrats.Your attitude is helping Alqaeda. Do you know that. I do not know if CNN will publish this letter.

    November 29, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Lee, Mays Landing, New Jersey

    Most right wing "conservatives" will stand by their party and never admit a mistake when they see one. They follow their leaders blindly, believe in following orders and authority no matter what. It's a type of personality we've seen with right wing regimes before.
    Chuck Hagel doesn't fit the mold and has the moral fiber to tell the truth.

    November 29, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. S. Wright

    Bush has alienated conservatives who voted for him to be sure, Senator.

    But what conservatives honor most is commitment to principle. You, along with several other politicians voted for the move on Iraq. You turned tail and ran from your decision, Senator, even after the latest operation has turned out a success.

    You are no different from a certain Senator from New York who also did what you did.

    Both you and Hillary are unfit to be President because you lack accountability and responsibility for your convictions.

    You haven't the guts to face Nebraskans in the next election, and it only mirrors your about-face on the Iraq question.

    November 29, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Howard Hewlett Des Moines Iowa

    Hey 4Freedom, what did that Kool-Aid taste like. Are you one of the "freedom fries" republicans that don't understand the difference between patriotism and nationalsim?

    Hagel hit the nail on the head that Bush and Andrew Jackson are bar none the worse leaders in American history. I pray every day that we can over come the damage Bush and his boys have done to this once great country!

    November 29, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Daniel, NY

    Lots of major congressional news today, as Republicans finally got a top recruit in a Senate race: John Kennedy jumped in in Louisiana to challenge Senator Landrieu.But Republicans also lost a top-tier candidate in a House seat in New Jersey which they could very well now lose next year.

    November 29, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Senator, you are on the wrong side of the coin. Why are you arrogant about George W. Bush? He is our president. Show some respect to him.Otherwise it is better if you join the democrats.Your attitude is helping Alqaeda. Do you know that. I do not know if CNN will publish this letter.

    Posted By Dave, SC : November 29, 2007 4:37 pm

    If you want to live in a country where everybody agrees with the leader, may I suggest that you move to North Korea?

    November 29, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Ms. Ellen Douglas, Springfield, MA.

    I agree with the Senator on this topic. Also as a citizen of the United States, I feel I have been abandoned for the war. It would be helpful if the current administration could find a way or ways to help us everyday citizens who are in a daily struggle for our survial. It saddens me very much to see how out of touch the President is towards his own countrymen and women. We need help!

    November 29, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Steve, Portland, OR

    Little too late and a few dollars and lives short. Why didn't you say something much earlier about all this and save this country from having to deal with this mess you went along with in the past.I guess your conscience finally kicked in, or could it be you don't want history remembering you like the history will of our current president.

    November 29, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. James,chicago,illinois

    He speaks the truth on some subjects but i don't feel it's for the right reasons. Every other politician is playing the race card on war to get votes, so he must be 2.

    November 29, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. billy

    "Senator, you are on the wrong side of the coin. Why are you arrogant about George W. Bush? He is our president. Show some respect to him.Otherwise it is better if you join the democrats.Your attitude is helping Alqaeda. Do you know that. I do not know if CNN will publish this letter."

    Where does this come from? Who told this person that blind obedience to a leader is American? Who told these people that they're patriots?

    November 29, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. I want my country back

    I think we can all agree that Saddam was a bad guy, but Iraq and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. It was Bin Ladin who is hiding in Pakistan. If we want to go after the culprit we are looking for him in the wrong country. All we are doing is creating more enemies within the Middle East. Remember not all Middle Easteners think the West is horrible its only the far right fringes of the religous sects. People in this country (far right religous sects) that think the same of the Middle East.

    Just because he voted for the occupation and later denounced the occupation does not mean he is a bad guy. Remember the Bush Administration did not give them enough time or all the facts about the occupation so many were dupped into voting for. I have more respect for people who are willing to admit thier mistakes instead of continualy try to demonize those who know and disagree that a mistake had been made.

    Unfortunately the Republican Party has sold out to corporations and created a corporatists state and continue to pass neoliberal economic policies.

    Sen. Hagel is a true American.

    November 29, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  23. Mike, Dallas TX

    "But what conservatives honor most is commitment to principle. You, along with several other politicians voted for the move on Iraq."

    And he realizes it was a mistake, presented under false pretense. Intelligent people change their opinions when faced with new facts or the reality of a situation. Delusional people push forward in the face of critical warning signs. I'm embarrassed to be a republican and our leaders are putting principle ahead of intelligent, well designed plans. Iraq is a complete failure and Bush will leave the mess for a competent person to clean up.

    November 29, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Joe,baltimore,md

    It doesn't make you look any better than Bush!

    November 29, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. Angel , Los Angeles of Anaheim

    Thank you Mr. Hagel.

    It's about time some on the right sttod up and stated the truth about the idiot in the White House and his corrupt bunch of CEO friends starting with that Dick, Cheney.

    I find it amaaing that so many of my fellow Americans can still stand up for the worst administration in American history. And I thought Nixon was bad....

    November 29, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6