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. docrock,lewisville.tx.

    The illegal invasion of Iraq was perpatrated on the world only to Patent"9/11"for the Republican Party.It is to be used as a cudgel against anyone that dares to disagree with this illegitamate Government.The rumbling sound you hear,is the sound of the Great Respectable Upright Patriotic G.O.P. American Heroes,rolling in their graves.Good luck America.

    November 29, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  2. D. Endo, Honolulu HI

    Kudos to Senator Hagel, but this is seriously way too little, way to late! How many troops have died between 2002 and now. We need to get our troops home. When you have the Bush twins partying, the Romney boys serving their country by working on big Daddy's campaign, makes me sick. If these bastard truly believe in the war, why is that other Americans are sacrificing their kids. Bush, Cheney and the rest of the bastards need to be tried for treason, crimes against humanity and for wasting oxygen.

    November 29, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  3. 4 Freedom

    VJ, Atlanta,GA

    What I said is "It was right to pull down Saddam; it's always right to help people escape tyranny." I still believe it was the right decision and I believe we should have stayed in Viet Nam till we had victory then the slaughter that happened there and Cambodia wouldn't have happened. I believe in standing up and fighting against evil before it rears it's ugly head here again. I have never heard a Democratic Senator state how he/she would fight terror other than beefing up the borders and I don't think that alone will do it. The terrorists are not deterred by cowardice.

    November 29, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  4. Rod

    Little late Senator but still very much appreciated. On second tour of Iraq, Not much different from last. Money does seem to be trown at this war; with overpriced technology and armor that you would think is made of gold it cost so much. No progress seeingly no end in sight to wasteful glutton "leaders"

    November 29, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  5. Don Longmont, CO

    When are some of these hard core Bushies going to open their eyes. Now even members of the Republican party are acknowledging the lack of leadership in this administration. Take a look at the secrecy and corruption of this admiistration for what it is.

    My hope is that everyone who staunchly
    supported this administation is voted out of office. We need representative's who will support the will of the people they were elected to serve.

    Lets restore "WE THE PEOPLE" back into our government.

    November 29, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. Dan, Minneapolis, MN

    A bit too late, especially after wathing the Republican presidential debate. The Republican world view as simply a black/white condition was evident in last night debate. A persistent refusal to understand the nuanced dimensions to socio-ethnic conditions within a historical process will prove costly for smug Americans. In grotesque terms "eat it" Americans! We deserve our current plight in all areas.

    November 29, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. Joe Nebraska

    I've missed the flurry of comments by about 4 hours, but I need to respond to some of these posts for the sake of catharsis;

    To those who accuse Hagel of being a closet Democrat: it IS possible to be a social and fiscal conservative and still have the sense to recognize failed policy.

    To those who attack Hagel for "voting for the war": pay closer attention to legislation. Many like Hagel voted to authorize the President to use all means necessary against Iraq and other nations if it wouldn't detract from the war on terrorism and if diplomatic efforts failed.

    To the guy who said "If Hagel was an Iraqi, he'd be thankful for Bush": an overwhelming majority of Iraqis (the ones who haven't fled) now consider themselves far worse off than they ever were under the old regime.

    To the Nebraskans who claim Hagel was afraid to run again in Nebraska: though clearly a red state, Nebraskans have a history of electing independant-minded politicians who do not always speak or vote along party lines (e.g., Ben Nelson and Bob Kerry). The only Republican contender Hagel faced when he made his decision not to seek reelection was the young and inexperienced Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning–who most area commentators agree Hagel would have easily defeated.

    To Tim from TX, steer clear from political blogs and stick to watching professional wrestling before you make (thoughtful) conservatives look bad.

    To both Democrats and Republicans: it is not weakness to admit your side gets it wrong sometimes–don't let mean-spirited, knee-jerk comments from the bottom-feeders in your own party drag you down!

    I'm sure I left some people out, but I doubt anyone is still reading this post. I feel much better, anyway. I wish you all the best!

    November 30, 2007 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  8. history repeats

    Looks like CNN is fully engaged in the campaign now. What don't they start a 12 week run of specials highlighting and investigating the sexual assaults of Bill Clinton and Hillary's role in intimidating the victims ?

    Posted By Paula and Vince, Santa Monica, CA

    ou know what i love the most about republicans that blog on cnn is that when CNN reports on anything that puts bush or actually any republican in a darker light they say CNN has taken sides. do you really think republicans are pure or are you playing the high school game where your team is the best no matter what!

    November 30, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  9. history repeats

    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.

    Posted By 4Freedom , NY : November 29, 2007 4:30 pm

    only people who dont ACTUALLY research the build up to this war and know nothing about the middle east say we attacked saddam to free the iraqi people. you do realize we employed saddam before. i guess we just made a look up the war in afghanistan against the russias and see how we armed the islamic militants over there. take a look at actual US foreign policy over the past 50 years and you will see soemthing different then AMERICA THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS. youll start seeing the real life side of real life...

    November 30, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  10. neil Williamson tampa florida

    I've been saying that for years!!!

    November 30, 2007 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  11. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    I see many Hagel haters on the board, like Fremont, CA who called for Hagel to be tried for treason. Are you forgetting that Hagel was in the armed forces? Sounds to me like you are resorting to the same tactics as with the Petraus ad!

    Hagel is a Vietnam War veteran, having served in the U.S. Army infantry, attaining the rank of Sergeant (E-5) from 1967–1968. While serving during the Vietnam War, he received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

    November 30, 2007 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  12. Mike Omaha,NE

    For those of you calling Hagel a RINO and telling him to switch to the Democratic party, you need to do some research first. While Hagel does disagree with Bush on the war, he votes Republican on EVERY other issue.

    November 30, 2007 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  13. seth, minneapolis

    One of the last true conservative republicans. I don't know why people don't just admit the neocons are a bunch of big-government, big-war liberals. And they're the worst tax and spend liberals yet because they're taxing us years into the future by running up the deficit and destroying the value of the dollar. I see no difference between Johnson and Bush, except that Bush is more arrogant and less competent.

    November 30, 2007 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  14. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    During his first campaign, Hagel indicated that, were he to be elected, he would retire in 2008 after two terms in the Senate. [2] Six years later in 2002, Hagel overwhelmingly won re-election with over 83% of the vote, the largest margin of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska history.

    Looks like a politician is actually fulfilling a campaign promise...if only we could get more Dems and Reps to move to term limits like Hagel.

    November 30, 2007 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  15. Chris, Texas

    It's really not that Hagel has always been honest or not afraid to speak the truth about what he really thinks about Bush & Co. It's that he is not running for re-election in '09 and he knows that anything he says now is inconsequential.

    November 30, 2007 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  16. Paul TX

    You know, I think I would just like to point out one thing that I think the majority of Americans, including myself, need to be reminded of from time to time; WE PUT THE PRESIDENT IN OFFICE! I believe that all candadites should be carefully contemplated in the campaign season and people should vote as they see fit, no problem there. However, once we have a president in office we're stuck with him for at least four years no matter what you think of him. if you don't like the president fine, free country and all that, just protest with your vote at the next election. while he is in office, we need to be much more supportive of the president. he is the representitive leader of the UNITED States of America and, currently, to the rest of the world we really come across as many things but united. we need to unite as a people under a single leader and support his actions, we can give our opinons to our congressmen to help shift the government in the direction we feel it needs to go, but if legislation has already been instituted, or if a war has already been started then i feel that we need to unite under our president and form the kind of support structure that america has displayed in the past. this is just one college students opinion but hopefully someone will read it and start thinking.

    November 30, 2007 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  17. mcclaud

    I weep for my fellow Nebraskans who totally play the blind Conservative motive to slam Chuck Hagel because he practices his right to free speech against a horrible Administration with a horrible agenda. Our party has taken a bad turn into the mire of moral politics with arrogance and an inability to be diplomatic to allies and enemies together.

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

    I think that you're entirely wrong. As a Nebraskan, if he ran again, I would vote for him. As would most of the people I know in western Nebraska (where I'm originally from). Don't include us in your generalized, brainwashed opinions, please.

    November 30, 2007 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  18. Kevin LA CA

    Its really stupid to blame Hagel, Hillary and others who are now against the war they voted for. At the time of 9/11, the country was in distress and everyone beleived Bush and his cohorts out of sheer patriotism and voted with the President believing he would do the right thing, for the sake of soldiers in harms way. To blame them for siding with the war to show terrorists the county was united. Little did anyone know that Cheney,Bush and the Neo-cons were in this business for oil and profit. They fooled the people then, and they are fooling the people now. SHAME ON THIS ADMINISTRATION.

    November 30, 2007 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  19. mark wilkes barre pa

    Republicns follow blindly tied to there party ? look at all the dem /lib responses above,,, they all look the same to me, the republican responses look a little more based on personal opinion. Hagel is not the politician you all want to get into a discusion on who follows who blindly or who is speaking with integrity and virtues over ???? I can"t wait to see how the next president dem/rep handles the war on terror. My guess is not much different than Bush

    November 30, 2007 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  20. Frank Robertson, Amherst, NY

    It's about time! We have labored for years under the argument that 'you shouldn't criticize the president!' Unless I am mistaken, this is the United States, a country which was founded by people who were seeking the right to criticze their political leaders. If Bush has done a great job, then let's celebrate that. Unfortunately, the truth is that he has done a tragically poor job of leading our country, and the criticisms of his performance are not only warranted and deserved, but are in need of being loudly proclaimed! Face it – he's been a arrogant and self-serving president!

    November 30, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |

    Oh give us a break, I thought this anti Bush ,Hagel had left!
    Give us a break, who really cares what Hagel has to say, he
    never was a Republican, he is just
    envious of the President, and is
    angry that the President just discounted him and his advise, as

    November 30, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Danny, LA, CALIF.

    I'm not a republican, but finally, somebody with some standing has the "Cajones" to say what everbody thinks but was afraid to say! Arrogant is a good adjective, W also must be hard of hearing too, he doesn't listen to the citizens who put him in office.

    November 30, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Andy Sacolaro Indio, California

    Hagel, you flip-flopper.
    You voted for the war, now you're against it.
    It is a sign of a complete lack of intelligence when one changes their mind, especially if confronted with new information.
    Imagine where the world would be if that flip-flopper Copernicus hadn't decided that the earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around.
    Clearly the man was a terrorist, as well as a flip-flopper.
    Bring back spontaneous generation!
    We don't need people using intelligence to change course or make new decisions.
    It takes a real man to never, ever, admit when they are wrong.
    A course must be pursued-even to total ruin–once it has been set.
    Anything else is weakness,flip-flopping and liberalism.
    God Bless America.

    November 30, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Brandon, Tampa, FL

    Nice to see a Republican grow a spine.

    November 30, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. Barbdoyle cape Coral FL

    Hey Dave from SC; It's not a case of respecting the President it's respecting the OFFICE of the PRESIDENT. The present occupier of that office has done nothing to gain my resepct. Quite the contrary.

    November 30, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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