Tag Archives: Chuck Hagel

Yep, the shoe fits

“I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more.”

Donald J. Trump



Do you believe the commander in chief’s denial that he denigrated and disparaged the men and women who serve in our nation’s military?

Yeah. Me neither. Nor does Chuck Hagel, the former Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska and former defense secretary in the Obama administration.

The source of this angst comes from The Atlantic magazine, which published a story by Jeffrey Goldberg citing four anonymous sources who reportedly heard Trump speak ill of those who were wounded in action, were killed in action or taken prisoner by enemy forces.

According to USA Today: Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and two-term Republican senator, told ABC News “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz that if Trump’s reported comments are “real, it’s beneath the dignity of any commander in chief. Truly they’re despicable.” 

OK, Hagel is giving Trump a sliver of a benefit of the doubt on the remarks attributed to him in The Atlantic. I saw the ABC News interview and I came away from watching it that Hagel truly believes the remarks fit a pattern that Trump already has exhibited.

No, this story won’t go away any time soon. Nor should it. The reporting paints the commander in chief in the most hideous context imaginable.

I would accept Donald Trump’s denial, that he would swear on anything he could find. Except that his constant and relentless lying has destroyed all semblance of credibility.

An ’embarrassment’? Yeah, do ya think?

Chuck Hagel isn’t your run-of-the-mill Donald John Trump critic.

He once served as defense secretary for President Obama. Oh, but wait! The man isn’t a squishy liberal. He also is a former Republican senator from Nebraska, one of the many states known to be rock-ribbed, red-state Republican bastions. Hagel also is a Vietnam War veteran, serving there in the U.S. Army. He’s been in battle and knows its consequences.

So, when Chuck Hagel calls the president an “embarrassment” to the nation, well, I tend to listen to him.

Hagel sat down with the Lincoln (Neb.) Star-Journal in which he unloaded on the president. He tore into him for his reported “sh**hole countries” comment describing Haiti, El Salvador and nations in Africa that account for many immigrants coming into the United States.

“Donald Trump is doing great damage to our country internationally,” Hagel told the newspaper.

He said lawmakers take an oath to defend the Constitution and not stand blindly behind any individual or their political party. “I was philosophically a Republican with a conservative voting record,” Hagel said, “but that did not mean I would always go along with the party.”

So, he’s not going along. He is speaking from his heart and telling us what’s on his mind. Moreover, he is speaking for a lot of his fellow Americans — such as yours truly — when he tells us that the president is embarrassing us.

I happen to be embarrassed — and ashamed — by the conduct of the man who is our head of state.

Thus, I share Secretary/Sen. Hagel’s pain.

Who will join Cruz in stopping Trump?


Ted Cruz has a problem.

He wants to become the “anti-Trump” candidate for president of the United States. He’s seeking a way to get Ohio Gov. John Kasich to bow out. He believes he can coalesce enough “true conservatives” behind him to derail Donald J. Trump’s march to the Republican Party presidential nomination.

The junior U.S. senator from Texas, though, needs some help from his colleagues in the Senate. But as Politico reports, he is nearly universally detested by his fellow senators. And that’s just the Republicans with whom he serves.

Cruz needs to build some relationships. I don’t mean “rebuild.” He’s got to start from scratch.

He’s been in the Senate for slightly more than three years. He’s halfway through his very first term in the very first elected public office he’s ever held.

As Politico reports: “Cruz’s relationship with his colleagues is now a central paradox of his campaign: He’s openly arguing for the party to rally behind him, but Republican senators are plainly wary of going anywhere near him. Those who feel burned by Cruz in the past say he’ll come to them only if he decides it’s in his self-interest. ”

The man who leads the Senate — the body’s top Republican — once was on the receiving end of a barrage that Cruz leveled at him. Remember when the Cruz Missile called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a “liar” in a speech on the floor of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body?

How does McConnell put that epithet behind him? How does McConnell gather the forces to help one of their own take down this “interloper” named Trump.

Moreover, Sen. John McCain — the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee — has taken Cruz to task in public for his intemperate remarks about a couple of fellow Vietnam War combat veterans, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.

Finally, he’s been campaigning against the very “Washington establishment” where he works these days. He’s an “outsider,” he says.

Something tells me Cruz’s efforts to put distance between himself and his Senate colleagues ain’t going well with the ladies and gents with whom he serves.


GOP fretting like crazy over Trump, Cruz


The drama being played out in the inner circles of the Republican Party national network is among the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen.

Two men have emerged as co-favorites for the GOP presidential nomination — and the party brass is none too happy about either of them.

Donald J. Trump has managed to insult his way to the top of the still-large GOP heap; U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas antagonized his Senate colleagues to the point that it’s no generally understood that, well, no one on Capitol Hill likes, or even respects, the junior senator.

Republican statesmen, such as Robert Dole, say a Cruz nomination would bring “cataclysmic” losses to the party; it could cost Republicans control of the Senate and bring Democrats within striking distance of getting control of the House.

Aw, but today’s firebrands label the likes of former Sen. Dole as “has been,” “loser,” “RINO.”

That’s their view. It’s not mine.

Trump is now calling himself a conservative. His prior public statements about such things as abortion and universal health care betray his claim, according to so-called “true conservatives.”

But there he is. Looking down from atop the GOP heap. He’s going after Cruz’s eligibility to run for president. He’s feuding with a broadcast journalist. He’s managed to insult Iowa voters, Hispanics, Muslims, our allies abroad, every working politician in Washington, D.C., women, reporters and editors . . . and others I can’t even think of at the moment.

Hey, it’s all OK with those who think Trump is “fresh.”


As for Ted Cruz, well, he took his senatorial oath in January 2013 and began hunting for every open microphone he could find. He had his presidential ambitions planned out even before winning a contest in his first political election . . . ever!

He’s trampled over Senate colleagues, broken long-established Senate rules of decorum by calling the body ‘s majority leader a liar. He questioned whether decorated Vietnam War veterans, such as Secretary of State John Kerry and former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, had a true appreciation for the military; and this came from someone who never donned a military uniform!

The Republican Party has a problem, all right.

What will the GOP do? How will it deny either of these men its presidential nomination?

Given that so few of us have ever seen such intraparty angst, I’m afraid the Grand Old Party is on its own.

Good luck, ladies and gents.


Sen. Cruz just isn’t ‘likeable’


Readers of this blog know that I’ve spent a good bit of time over the past couple of years writing unflattering things about U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

I don’t apologize for any of it.

George W. Bush the other day more or less climbed on board with many of the rest of us when he said of the junior Republican senator from Texas, “I just don’t like the guy.”

The former president was speaking at a private fundraiser in Denver on behalf of his brother, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, against whom Cruz is competing for his party’s nomination.

Ah, likeability.

Mr. President, I don’t like him either.

I’ve struggled a bit to say precisely why I dislike Cruz. I’ve never met him; forgive me for saying this, but I have met President Bush and I find him amazingly likeable.

Cruz, though, presents a different situation. Maybe he’s a terrific fellow — in private. The public version of Cruz, though, is remarkably unlikeable.

He blew into the Senate in 2013 and immediately began hogging lots of TV time. The mainstream media love the guy. He’s what the media describe as “good copy.” He was everywhere, making pronouncements on this and that, speaking of the venerable Senate institution as if he’d been there since The Flood. The young man seems to lack any self-awareness of how it looks to some of us who have watched him pontificate about the Senate and his new colleagues.

He’s managed to antagonize even his fellow Republicans, such as John McCain, who chastised Cruz for questioning whether Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel — a fellow Republican, former senator and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War — was sufficiently loyal to the United States of America. He’s called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and liar.

It’s all about Cruz.

Then he launched that presidential campaign of his barely a year after becoming a senator. I get that he’s not the first rookie congressional politician to reach for the brass ring. Barack Obama did it. JFK did, too. Heck, you even could say George W. Bush did, too, after serving only a term and a half in the only elective office he’d ever held — Texas governor — before being elected president in 2000.

It’s Cruz’s brashness, though, that seems so … umm … unlikeable.

Bush had it right when he blurted out to the political donors that he doesn’t like Sen. Cruz.

Does it matter that a president is likeable?

It matters to me. How about you?


Sen. Cruz draws outrage … from the GOP!


Ted Cruz has had this problem almost from the day he joined the U.S. Senate in January 2013.

He thinks much too highly of himself and too little of his colleagues, many of whom have much more time in the senatorial saddle than the junior Republican from Texas.

The Senate leadership, led by Cruz’s fellow Republicans, has shot him down yet again.

And to think the leadership did so after Cruz called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor earlier this year. Shocking, I tell ya! Shocking!

Cruz in trouble in Senate

He wants to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding. He’s griped about GOP senators being too willing to work those dreaded Democrats. He once accused former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of consorting with communist North Korea while Hagel was seeking to become defense secretary in the Obama administration. He once said John Kerry — a decorated Vietnam War veteran — lacked sufficient appreciation of the military; Cruz, by the way, never wore his country’s uniform.

Now the Cruz Missile is running for president of the United States and he’s running into trouble among his colleagues.

They keep pushing back on this young man’s efforts to obstruct whenever and wherever he gets the chance.

Cruz has his fans on the right and the far right. They’re with him in his efforts to shut down the government. They like his fiery rhetoric. They believe he’s capable of fixing whatever ails the nation.

A legislator, though, has to cooperate — even with those in the other party. If he fails to learn that fundamental truth about legislating — which is the making of laws — well, nothing’s going to get done.

Ted Cruz then will have nothing to show for his bombast.


Cornyn is correct; Cruz is, um, incorrect

John Cornyn knows how the U.S. Senate functions.

He’s been serving there for some time now as a Republican from Texas.

His whipper-snapper colleague, fellow Republican Ted Cruz, doesn’t know how it works quite so well.

Accordingly, Cornyn took Cruz to task for the attack he leveled at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Cruz did so in a speech on the Senate floor in which he called McConnell a liar.


McConnell had allowed a vote on the Export-Import Bank, which Cruz and some other Senate conservatives want to eliminate. McConnell, R-Ky., allegedly had promised that a vote wouldn’t occur. Cruz took him to task for it and then decided to say out loud what he could have said in private, which is that McConnell can’t be trusted to keep his word.

Enter the senior senator from Texas, Cornyn.

“I have listened to the comments of my colleague, the junior senator from Texas, both last week and this week, and I would have to say that he is mistaken,” Cornyn said, adding that McConnell did not deceive any senator with his fancy procedural footwork. According to the Texas Tribune: “If the majority leader had somehow misrepresented to 54 senators what the facts are with regards to the Ex-Im Bank, I would suspect that you would find other voices joining that of the junior senator, but I hear no one else making such a similar accusation.”

“There was no misrepresentation made by the majority leader on the Ex-Im Bank,” Cornyn added.

I continue to believe that Cruz — who’s also running for president — hit the floor of the Senate when he took office aiming to make a name for himself. He’s done so quite nicely and along the way incurred the wrath of his GOP colleagues, not to mention the Democrats with whom he must work.

Remember, during former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing, when Cruz questioned out loud whether Hagel — a former Republican senator from Nebraska and a decorated Vietnam War combatant — was taking money under the table from North Korea? That line of attack drew a sharp rebuke from another noted Vietnam War combatant, Republican Sen. John McCain, who scolded the freshman for impugning Hagel’s patriotism and integrity.

Now the senator who wants to be president has been lectured by his fellow Texan about the rules of the Senate.

You just don’t call another senator — let alone the majority leader — a liar.

'Easy' confirmation ahead?

When a Republican curmudgeon like Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma says he would vote for a Democratic nominee for defense secretary, then you might expect the next nominee to have a relatively clear path toward confirmation.

Today, President Obama is going to nominate former deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter to run the Pentagon; he would replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel. He’s been highly decorated and has been confirmed already by the Senate for his one-time post.


Carter is a well-known expert on weapons and their procurement. He knows the ropes inside the world’s largest office building and it appears he’s got support from at least one Republican senator who’ll get a chance to vote on his confirmation. Will there be more?

GOP lawmakers have been making a lot of noise lately about blocking Obama appointments as payback for his executive action on immigration. They’ve been careful to exclude national security posts from that petulant game.

Let’s hope they’re faithful to their pledge.

If there was a federal agency that needs leadership and cohesion in this troubled time, one would expect it to the be the Department of Defense.

Do not dilly-dally on this one, senators.



Now it's Ashton Carter at DoD

We’ll get to see just how partisan it’s going to get in Washington, D.C.

CNN reports that President Obama is going to nominate Ashton Carter as the next secretary of defense.


Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson withdrew from consideration. So did defense expert Michelle Fluornoy. Presumably others have pulled out, too, for all I know.

Carter is a big hitter. He’s been a deputy defense secretary and was the main weapons buyer for the Pentagon. He also worked as a deputy defense boss during the Clinton administration.

He doesn’t seem to be overly political. He doesn’t have a lot of baggage. Carter seems to be a good fit for the Obama administration, which reportedly forced Chuck Hagel to quit as defense secretary after less than two years on the job.

However, in this day and time, politics seems to matter the most. Republicans who’ll take control of the Senate in January are likely to find all kinds of things to throw against Carter. The chief among them just might be that he’s Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Pentagon.

Senators have said they won’t block national security picks, while fighting other presidential nominees in retaliation for the president’s immigration executive order.

Many of us out here intend to hold them to their word.



DHS boss on short list for Defense post

Jeh Johnson has emerged as a favorite to become the secretary of defense.

This could be a most intriguing choice, not so much for the job he could get, but for the job he would abandon.


Johnson is the current secretary of homeland security. He’s a sharp lawyer and a former Air Force general counsel, which is a civilian post. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has submitted his resignation but will stay on until the new defense boss is confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate confirmed Johnson as homeland security secretary in a 78-16 vote and he figures to be confirmed for this new post.

Ah, but what about the homeland security job?

This might cause some serious headaches for President Obama.

The Department of Homeland Security is the lead Cabinet agency on this immigration matter, which Obama inflamed with his executive order the other day that delays the deportation for 5 million illegal immigrants. Senate Republicans — who’ll take control of the Senate in January — might see this as their chance to stick it to the president. They could block whoever the president picks to lead the Homeland Security Department.

It could get tough, bloody, nasty — which well could be the norm for the remainder of Barack Obama’s presidency.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the president deserves to populate the Cabinet with people with whom he feels comfortable. Jeh Johnson is qualified to be the next defense secretary. Barack Obama will find an equally qualified individual to protect the homeland.

It won’t matter to those who are angry over the president’s legal and constitutional executive order on immigration.