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. B. Dill, Warren, OH

    "Your [Hagel's] attitude is helping Alqaeda." Enough of this childish political non-thinking! Being critical is NOT being unpatriotic. Even Pres. Bush has said so–believe it or not!!! Without critical thinking and the free speech thereof we will become slaves to
    tyrants and dictators.

    November 29, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Francine, Tampa FL

    Let me get this right, S. Wright..."what conservatives honor most is commitment to principle"?!?! How do YOU honor a president who DID NOT finish his tour of duty back in the day when serving in our Armed Forces was NOT an option?!?! How do YOU honor a vice president who chose to do what John Wayne did during WW II, using deferments to get out of serving our Country if not for the horror that was going on in Europe, how about after Pearl Harbor was attacked (John Wayne, that is)?!?! From what I understand, Colin Powell appears to be the only one in this Administration who served our Country! Even Rumsfeld served during an "easier" time...not his fault, just the way it was then. Don't talk about accountability and responsibility with this group. Hagel has more integrity in his little finger than this White House does. Bush is an insult to decent Republicans let alone decent Americans.

    November 29, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Walter, San Diego

    Too bad he decided not to run for President. At least it would have proven that you don't HAVE to be a war-monger to be a social and fiscal conservative. And he would have given those sane Republicans out there (both of them) someone other to vote for other than Ron Paul.

    November 29, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Tim Lent,Trumbull Ct.

    Only at election time do spineless politician try to save their butt's. If he felt that strongly why did he not say something long ago. It's just about money and saving your job. This is not what a politician are all about. They are for the people??? Not the spinless,they will say anything for a paycheck.

    November 29, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Chris, Nebraska

    To Dave, SC:

    Call me dumb, but how does having a different opinion or viewpoint from the president help Al Queda? It doesn't, but I do enjoy your fear mongering.

    November 29, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. B, Chico California

    I have said for several years now that as a Republican I am embarassed of this administration, as an American I am down right ashamed.

    November 29, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. VJ Atlanta GA

    Its surprising to read so many americans still believe that Bush is in Iraq for fight against Terror. This is the height of naivity. 4Freedom and billy are either stupid or Republicans.

    November 29, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. Mark D, Springfield, MO

    When looking up Republican in the dictionary you will now find the picture of a Lemming.

    It seems that to be a true Republican anymore you have to blindly follow the Republican Leadership as they lead the party off a cliff into a pit of darkness and despair. As a Republican party member it is now unpatriotic to question your leaders or have a different viewpoint. That sure sounds an awful lot like what is going on in Russia lately with Putin's party.

    A TRUE leader is one that can change his mind and position when viewing the overall picture and presented with VALID facts. A person who is committed to something no matter what is short sighted, arrogant and just plain moronic and no good for this country. This is what Bush has been and see where we have ended up? We went from most of the world supporting us after 9/11 to most of the world either hating or distrusting us.


    November 29, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. fair,washington,dc

    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


    "He's our President, show some respect to him."
    So how should I read this Dave, you mean he's your President because he's a Republican or that as the President of the United States he should be shown some respect. Let's come back to this when Hillary wins the election and see what your fellow Republicans think about respecting the President. Never mind, we don't need to wait we already know how thats gonna go

    November 29, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. John from America

    Thank you Senator Hagel for having the courage to tell the American people what you see going on with this administration.

    As far as some of you folks that believe that attacking Saddam because he was a bad guy, what about your GOP party platform about "we don't do nation building"?

    November 29, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    Bush is easily the WORST PRESIDENT EVER, but why, oh why, can't we get rid of him and his corrupt reich? I'm SO sick of hearing how the Republicans have scammed America once again. They used to be the party of responsibility, but now it seems that they're the party of cronyism, corruption, liars, cheats and religious nuts. ARGH!

    November 29, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. James, Houston, Tx.

    If You "PRESS" Sen Hagel He may let You know Who was really behind 9/11 and Why? Iraq was only There, a Pawn, when it needed to BE!

    November 29, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Step Montgomery, AL

    Hats off to Mr. Hagel!

    *And to Dave in SC- I think invading Iraq helped al Qaeda more than anything anyone could ever say...actions speak louder than words!

    November 29, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Hanna,andover,ma

    Do you feel duped. Yes, I guess so. Thanx for working hard for Bush and cheney to get Huliburton going.......

    November 29, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. Jack Lambrecht - Indianola, Washington 98342

    No surprise. Senator Hagel has been dissing the President for a long time. At the conclusion of his term, which will coincide with that of the President, he will no longer have to continue the denigration of a fellow republican to the delight of the opposition party.

    November 29, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. Angel, Los Angeles of Anaheim

    388 more days until we can call America 'OUR COUNTRY' again.

    November 29, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Jake Austin Texas

    The intelligence quotient on here seems rather low.
    First a senator who thinks just because he said it, it must be true. That's referred to as arrogant in my book.
    Then the same senator who voted for it in the first place now has second thoughts, he is the problem.
    Pile on dumb pot-addled minds with your 2 year old mentality "bushies" comments. You sound like a senator named Reid.

    November 29, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Tom Masaryk, Omaha NE

    First, in defense of Sen. Hagel's standing with average Nebraskans, he is a study in contrasts–and still enjoys no mean support here. On one hand, he has continued George Norris's progressive, non-partisan thinking. His rarefied political scholarship and thought would be held in esteem even in much more populous states. At the same time he seems to stand in diametrical opposition to the isolationism of Norris. In response to the comment about "honoring commitment to principle," well...what principle? Globalization is the agenda of a world that no longer values the expenditure of lives and production capacity in dead-end, destructive endeavors. The principle of optimized human freedom to work and develop is only agenda that will be acceptable to the world in the long view. Norris fought against it because he thought it would lead to sham wars fought by the populace for the rich. I wonder if he would still support the breaking of rank and Hagel?

    November 29, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. Enraged, SLC, UT

    Chris from NE,

    Fear mongering is a natural tendency for those too ignorant to understand a dynamic world that is truly far from black and white. Their lack of intellect leads to an absolutist viewpoint that is only reinforced by the likes of Fox News, which gives them talking points to regurgitate ad infinitum. The thought that everyone must agree with the leader of the nation (trust me, I use "leader" very loosely) is the antithesis of what this country stands for. Just don't tell that to any Republicans...they might accuse you of being a terrorist. I say kudos to Chuck Hagel for at least having the fortitude to speak out against Bush's tyranny.

    November 29, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Norm Las Vegas NV

    Too late to comment Senator Hagel

    Saturday morning quarter backing at this point is counter productive to everyone, especially you.

    Perhaps if we sent you to Iraq you could stand up and say the same things and watch the RPGs come flying your way. Criticism is not allowed in the jihadists society. You'd be fodder for the garbage can.

    November 29, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  21. jms, Tn

    It is so refreshing to hear a Republican admit that this government is a sham. Now lets vote out the others that support this corrupt administration.

    November 29, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  22. Genifer, Washington, DC

    I think I hear the Hallelujah Chorus on these comments.

    November 29, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    Eric, from THE Republic of Texas
    and other Hagel Haters

    Whats the matter, don't like it when a Republican doesn't tow the party line? What about Lieberman, who generally supports Bush in the Iraq War? Does that mean that I think Lieberman is a Democrat in name only? NO! Lieberman is entitled to his opinion and he represents his state of Conn. (Technically Lieberman is an Independent, however he does caucus with the Dems and he is only an Independent cause he lost his primary election battle)
    Likewise, what about McCain? He has shown moderate stances and a willingness to buck the party line from time to time. Though not lately because he is trying to shore up (pander to) the conservative vote.

    My point is that if we had more politicians from both parties spouting moderate views, Congress might actually get something done for a change. Furthermore, if both parties were a little concilitory, we wouldn't have the partisian gridlock that we have now. Put your party beliefs aside for a time and I'm sure you would likely agree with at least some of the things Hagel said.

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for those conservatives on this blog who stop towing the party line to come to the defense of Hagel. He is one of the few conservatives that I respect and admire. If Hillary wins the Dem nomination, I would vote for Bloomberg/Hagel in a heartbeat.

    Truth be told, an Obama/Hagel ticket would be a lock for the Presidency, but I don't see a politician crossing party lines for a VP slot

    November 29, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Alice, Seattle, WA

    Thought there was a motive when I read the headline....just a bit of posturing, huh Chuck. Actually, most Republicans too long for the day when GW is out...realizing, however, the Dems don't have the answer to solve our problems either...and likely would make them worse with their brand of socialism.

    November 29, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. Tom Good, Bakersfield, California

    I said to my wife when I saw the caption but before I read the article, "bet it is Chuck Hagel again." It is hard to take him seriously as he is always negative toward Bush. I do agree with him on occasion, however.

    November 29, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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