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Washington Discovers Chuck Hagel Isn’t Brilliant (But We Knew a Decade Ago)

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: US embassy bombing in Turkey.  Have you heard about this one?  Do you know it is the eighth embassy attack during Senator Clinton's reign as secretary of state?  Our old buddy Jim Hoft at the Gateway Pundit has the news. A suicide bomber blew up today US embassy in Turkey, killing myself and one other person, and it is the eighth embassy attack during Hillary's reign. I told you yesterday that we're gonna have audio sound bites of the hearings of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense. It is amazing. It's a made-to-watch event to listen to the ruling class. Republicans, Democrats, media and elected people, inside the Beltway, they're beside themselves.

They can't believe how badly he did. They can't believe how ill-prepared and how unprepared he was. They can't believe how stupid he was. They can't believe it, because they had talked themselves into believing that Chuck Hagel was brilliant. I got a sound bite of me that we resurrected from September 23, 2002. We don't have anything of Hagel back then, but it is of me remarking on how everybody was talking how brilliant Chuck Hagel was back then. Because he was ripping into Bush, of course. He was ripping into America's defense strategy, America's foreign policy.

All he was doing was asking questions, and they said, "He's brilliant!" and I'm sure they believed it. These people believe the stuff that they tell each other about each other in the ruling class. Well, yesterday Hagel showed up. They couldn't believe that he didn't do any of the necessary work to prepare himself. They couldn't believe he was ill-prepared, unprepared, stupid. They're embarrassed. But they still admit he's probably gonna get confirmed, and it doesn't matter, because he's not gonna be secretary of defense anyway.

He's a placeholder. Obama's gonna do that job just like he's gonna do secretary of state. Hagel, one of the mistakes he made is he actually let the mask slip. He actually said what he really thinks. See, most Democrats know better than to ever do that, but he let people know what he really thinks about Israel. He let people know what he really thinks about the US military. That this guy was ever a Republican...? I have always been at odds with Hagel over his credentials, either as a Republican or conservative.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I'll take you back to this program and me back in 2002. This is Chuck Hagel, and I need to do a tiny bit of table setting here. In 2002, the media loved Chuck Hagel. Chuck Hagel was off the Republican reservation by then. He's a Republican senator from Nebraska. By 2002, he's questioning everything. He always was a RINO, a Republican-in-name-only. He was always a moderate Republican, but I'm telling you...

Back then, he was constantly disagreeing with Bush, and at this point he's McCain's best friend. Back in the 2000 campaign, McCain said that he would offer Hagel secretary of defense if he was elected. They've since had a falling out because Hagel endorsed Obama in 2008, not McCain. That's why McCain humiliated Hagel on his thoughts on the surge in Hagel's hearings. But to understand this sound bite, you've got to believe me on this.

Trust me, if you weren't around, that the media and everybody loved Hagel, and not just that. They thought he was brilliant! They thought that he had a special intellect that set him apart. That's why, by the way, the entire ruling class -- Republicans, Democrats, elected officials, media people -- are beside themselves. They're shocked at how poorly Hagel did yesterday. They're shocked at how ill-prepared he was. They are stunned at how unprepared he was. They are overwhelmed by how stupid he sounded.

But just 11 years ago, this guy was among the smartest politicians around, and I saw the need to comment on it.

RUSH 2002: Upchuck Hagel from Nebraska, who (sigh) I swear I don't know what he thinks. He just asks questions but everyone answers them. He gets all this credit for asking a bunch of questions.

"Shall we go it alone or shall we do it with others?"

"Oh, what a brilliant mind is Chuck Hagel!"

"We have choices to make in the twenty-first century. We can be a nation of peace or we can be a nation at war."

"He's brilliant! Would you listen to this?"

It's almost like Peter Sellers in that movie. Oh, what was the name of that movie? He played... (interruption) Who? Being There. Right. He says nothing, and everybody thinks he's the most brilliant guy in the world. "Well, in the spring, the plants grow," and he's a guest on all the talk shows for having a brilliant mind when it comes to politics.

RUSH: Peter Sellers played that character. "There's growth in the spring." Oh, yes! Chauncey was the character. But it was Hagelmania back then. That's why they were just shocked yesterday. Let's listen to some examples of how they could not believe Hagel. Up first, Dana Bash on CNN's Situation Room. She was on with Wolf Blitzer -- and, by the way, here's the Blitzer quote from the Hurricane Katrina days. I'm not making this up.

Blitzer said, "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, as Jack Cafferty just pointed out, so tragically, so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." Wolf Blitzer: "They are so black." Soledad O'Brien was let go from her morning show because her audience was "too ethnic."

Anyway, Dana Bash on with Wolf Blitzer, who said to Dana Bash, "What's been the reaction there to the Chuck Hagel hearings? You were watching these hearings for several hours, Dana. What's the reaction up there?"

BASH: During that break, senators were on the Senate floor voting, and as senators like to do, they were gossiping. They were very surprised that Senator Hagel is simply not doing as well as many people thought he would. All the talk [is] that the senators are shocked about how ill-prepared he is on some of the most basic, controversial comments that he made that he and everybody knew were gonna be coming at him. Even a Democrat who is supporting Hagel was sort of shaking his head in disbelief saying that he is surprised that he's not more forceful. Simply put, there is a, a-a-as I said, disbelief.

RUSH:  We move over to CBS This Morning.  Bob Schieffer was talking to the cohost Norah O'Donnell on the morning show.  She said, "What was stunning about yesterday, Bob, the White House saying they were disappointed by that performance, the White House usually preps their nominees, but there's no way to spin this one, Bob."

SCHIEFFER:  This is stunning.  But I agree with you.  I mean, generally on something like this what will happen, the White House will come back and stoutly defend the guy and say they're being unfair to him, and they didn't say it on the record, but started leaking all these reports, they were disappointed and all that.

RUSH:  Had no prayer, had no choice, it was devastating. (doing impression) "I mean, Hagel, what did you mean, the Israelis treat the Palestinians like caged savages?" 

"Well, I don't really recall any --"

"You did say it.  What did you mean?"

"Well, I think I'll let history be the judge." 

"What did you think of the surge?  I want to know.  You tell me, the surge, did it work or did it not?"

"Well, I would like the history --"

"I don't want history. I want just a simple yes or no."  McCain was all over him, everybody was all over him.  "How come the Iranians are endorsing you?"  If he had his wits about him, "So what, the Iranians endorsed Obama. Big deal. I'm serving for Obama."  Bob Schieffer wasn't through.  Charlie Rose weighed in, said, "Bob, we in the ruling class are worried here.  This is the next secretary of defense.  This guy doesn't sound like he knows what's going on.  How serious is the damage, and does it derail the nomination?"

SCHIEFFER:  I've never heard or seen a White House react quite the way they did to this.  You knew these were the questions they were gonna get, and he did not seem able to really answer them.  And I think this nomination may be in trouble.

RUSH:  Yeah, it might be in trouble.  I'll tell you what happened.  Hagel is a victim of his own press.  He read it, he believed it, and all through the 2000s, early 2000s he was the smartest guy in Washington, he was brilliant.  And all the guy ever did was ask platitudinous questions.  He'd call a press conference.  "Do we want to be a nation at war?  Do we want to be a nation at peace?"  And from that, people said, "This guy, he's figured it out."  And Hagel is a classic example of a guy who read his press clippings and believed it and thought he was the smartest guy in the room.  I bet he probably didn't even think they were gonna come at him this hard.  He's our colleague. He's an ex-senator.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Hang on, folks.  I'm looking at the sound bite roster.  I thought I saw something here by Chuck-U Schumer, and I guess I didn't.  Chuck-U Schumer -- no, I did look at it during the break, but I had to go -- quickly, I'm looking -- Chuck-U Schumer, Chuck-U Schumer.  Maybe it was -- Cookie, I need the Chuck Schumer sound bite where he essentially says, he said a couple times, that border security, that's not part of what we're doing, we've already got it, it's not a big deal, something like -- need that sound bite from Chuck-U Schumer.  Not even, Ted Cruz, I mentioned --

Ted Cruz just launched.  He's the rookie senator from Texas.  Ted Cruz, I'm telling you, I don't want to jinx the man, but along with Rubio, Ted Cruz is gonna be a very important figure for this country as we move into the future, and he's a rookie.  Normally rookies come in, they're quiet the first year, don't make waves.  He just fired both barrels at Chuck Hagel yesterday.

CRUZ:  In a speech on the floor of the Senate you referred to Israel's military campaign against terrorist group Hezbollah as a quote, "sickening slaughter."  Now, I would suggest the characterizations, do you think it's right that Israel was committing a, quote, "sickening slaughter," as you said on the floor of the Senate?

HAGEL:  I've said many, many times, Senator, every nation has a right to defend itself.  And --

CRUZ:  Do you think a "sickening slaughter" would constitute a war crime?

HAGEL:  No.  Depends on -- they were attacked.  Depends on many factors.  If Israel was defending itself, there was slaughter going on on both sides.

CRUZ:  Does one typically characterize defending yourself against terrorism as a "sickening slaughter"?

HAGEL:  No, but again, Senator, I'd want to look at everything.

RUSH:  That's just embarrassing.  I mean, the ruling class, the political elites are beside themselves.  One of their own, the next secretary of defense, a guy's gonna help Obama dismantle the American military complex, and that's what his role is because that's what he believes in, by the way.  The ideology is what has to survive.  When these guys come up there and embarrass themselves they've gotta go because liberalism must triumph, progressivism, whatever they call it.  It cannot be damaged by incompetent boobs like this.  And that's why the White House, "Oh, gosh, terribly disappointed. This is not who we thought he was," da-da-da-da-da. 

But his job is to help Obama dismantle the military complex.  You want somebody that's gonna be able to do that to command respect and make the low-information crowd think that he's smart and knows what he's doing.  Hagel did not pull that off.  So Cruz, next up, played a clip of Hagel being interviewed by Al Jazeera in 2009, and in the clip, the host of Al Jazeera read an e-mail from a woman who said America's perceived as the world's bully, and Hagel agreed with it in the clip.  And after the clip, Cruz and Hagel had this little discussion.

CRUZ:  Do you think it's appropriate for the chief civilian leader of the US military forces to agree with the statement that both the perception, quote, and the reality is that the United States is, quote, the world's bully?

HAGEL:  I think my comment was it's a relevant and good observation.  I don't think I said that I agree with it.

CRUZ:  You did say you agree with it.

RUSH:  He did say he agreed with it, and what is it if not agreeing with it when he says, "Well, that's a relevant and good observation.  America is the bully of the world."  And he was saying things like that.  He was loved, by the way, when he was saying things like that when Bush was in the White House.  Hagel was loved and adored, and I think that's another thing that caught him up short.  He used to say this kind of stuff and got praised to the hilt from the media.  He forgot he's not a Republican in the White House anymore.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  I'll tell you what, Chuck Hagel, if he's confirmed as the secretary of defense, he's gonna make damn sure that the United States is not in the position to be anybody's bully.  That's his job, because that's what Obama is going to down, downsize the US military.

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