On the Iraq War, Sen. Chuck Hagel has long been one of those people we call the "Even Republicans," that species of politician who often side with the Mainstream Media Party to please reporters, who can say "Even Republicans are opposed" to something liberal reporters oppose. On Friday's Today, MRC's Justin McCarthy noted that just after White House reporter David Gregory was finished underlining the importance of swallowing every bite of James Baker's glorious "fruit salad" of negotiating with terrorists and other acts of political wisdom, this comedic line emerged:
Gregory: "Politically, time is running out. The White House has begun to lose critical support even among Republicans."
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE): "Much of Iraq is embroiled in a civil war. 140,000 U.S. troops find themselves in the middle of this civil war."
Ha! Just begun to lose Hagel, Bush has? (Just listen to how Hagel's scratching Tim Russert's civil-war itch.) Maybe there's a Republican who backed Bush on Iraq until just the last few weeks, but that wouldn't be Hagel. Perhaps Mr. Gregory would like to consult the NBC News archives for a double-check. Try this Carl Quintanilla story on Today on...September 20, 2004:
Carl Quintanilla: "Ahead of Mr. Bush's speech, Kerry today will accuse the President of misleading the public about the war and the escalating violence on the ground. On Sunday, even Republicans said the conflict is taking its toll."
Sen. Chuck Hagel: "There's no question Iraq has focused all of our resources, are our attention, our efforts in that one area. And I've been concerned about that."
Three days later on Today, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw discussed how interim Iraqi leader Iyad Allawi had a tough job, but couldn't possibly argue the American media is too negative. After all, that Hagel guy is on their side:
"Matt, this is a guy in a very tough job and yesterday I was talking with him about what has been going on in this country and his blame this week on the American news media for saying, what he says, is not a true picture of what's going on in Iraq. He says that they're concentrating much too much on the negative, not enough on the progress. But I pointed out that members of Congress have gone there, they've talked to the experts and even Chuck Hagel, who is a ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said things are very bad there. So we talked about that."