This weeks questionee is Nebraska's Chuck "Miraculous Upset" Hagel, US Senator and former chairman of Election Systems & Software, among other interesting part-time jobs. Let's go to the tape:
How would you compare the situation in Iraq with the one in Vietnam?
Congress was absent during the Vietnam War, and they didn't ask the tough questions, and consequently we lost 58,000 Americans and lost a war and humiliated this nation. It took a generation to get over it. As long as I am here as a U.S. senator, I am going to do whatever I can to make sure that isn't going to happen.
I know Chuck Hagel has been the posterboy for Republican sanity in some liberal circles, but I'm rather less inclined to pass out medals for simple sanity, rare though that may be. Hagel voted for the Iraq War Resolution. He's voted for all three blank checks we've handed out to fund the thing. He gets to make noises like he's the voice of sanity while knowing it makes no difference to our policy.
Claiming there was a failure of Congressional oversight of the Vietnam War amounts to saying Congress should not have voted for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Whether it would have passed had Congress known the report was erroneous is a moot point. After the resolution Congressional oversight was itself moot, as it had given LBJ the power to wage war without a declaration of war. If there is a single lesson we should take from Congress and Vietnam, it is that.
But, Senator, what did you do when your own time came? You authorized the President to wage war absent a declaration of war. You did so despite the fact that you had expressed misgivings about a potential conflict. How does that differ from Vietnam, Senator Hagel? The difference is that with Iraq we should have known better from the start, and there was every chance to do something about it before there were needless US casualties.
What do you suggest that the president do?
For starters, we don't have enough troops. But I don't think the answer to increasing manpower is to pursue some of the things the Pentagon is doing, such as doubling and tripling bonuses for those in the military.
That seems to leave a draft, Chuck. Have you forgotten how to introduce a bill?
On the other hand, with our deficit now exceeding $400 billion, aren't we sort of out of money?
In terms of the deficit, we have blown the top right off. We're a bunch of Democrats.
Did I mention "talk radio host" on his resumé? Lessee, in addition to forking over $400 billion tax dollars for a war with no oversight you've pledged to combat, what else have you done about the deficit? Oh, yeah, voted for all the Bush tax cuts.
I've never heard anyone call President Bush a Democrat.
That's my point. We're less honest about it. We built the biggest government history has ever seen under a Republican government. The Democrats are better because they are honest about it. They don't pretend. I admire that. They'll say: ''We want more money. We need more money.''
God, me too. I get so tired of hearing Democrats ask for more money so they can piss it away on social programs. That's how Clinton ran up those big deficits, innit it? And isn't it about time we held the Dems feet to the fire on the Wilmot Proviso? 'Cos like the Democrat Big Spenders most all those guys are long gone, too.