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Chuck Hagel's Cheap Shot

I was flying this past Sunday so I bought the New York Times (which is really the only time I buy a newspaper....what does that say about the news print business?) and I read the Magazine cover story on Chuck Hagel. Senator Hagel is the type of Republican that media liberals love, because he is almost always good for a shot at President Bush, particularly when it comes to Iraq.

And that in and of itself is fine, each party could use more Senators who don't always toe the party line all the time. But it is one thing to buck your President or party on substantive policy issues out of conviction, and quite another to take cheap shots at leaders of your own party.

I don't know the tone with which Hagel uttered his snide comment on the Cheney shooting to the Omaha World-Herald that "If he'd (Cheney) been in the military, he would have learned gun safety" but unless it was a bad attempt at a joke, this comes across as the type of cheap shot I'd expect from left-wing partisans. And to that point, Ari Berman over at The Nation latched on to Hagel's comment Friday as the "best zinger of the week."

I don't know how serious Hagel is about higher positions in politics. If he is content being a Senator from Nebraska he can probably get away with this stuff for as long as he wants. But if he has aspirations for higher office, as a Republican, he is going to need to change his attitude and change it quick.

Otherwise I can give him and any of his would be supporters a piece of advice -- comments that win kudos form The Nation and the New York Times are not the path to winning the Republican nomination or a VP slot. Sucking up to the Washington press corps may get you good coverage in the Washington Post and on CBS News, but it is not going to win Republican votes in 2008.

If Hagel cares about his standing in the Republican party he ought to clarify his remark or publicly apologize to the Vice President.