Monday, March 12, 2007


In early 1992, Mario Cuomo -- then the governor of New York, and at the prime of his political and oratorical skills -- had a plane ready to take him to New Hampshire, where he would enter the Democratic presidential primary and, presumably, take the country by storm.

The plane, filled with campaign workers, stayed in New York. Cuomo never ran for president, and his indecision tarred him as the Hamlet of Albany.

On Monday, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) made an announcement in Omaha. With national reporters in the front row, and his political mentor in the audience, Hagel said ... not much of anything.

He said he and his family would decide, sometime this year, whether he would run for president:
“In making this announcement, I believe there will still be political options open to me at a later date,” Hagel said, adding that the “political currents in America are more unpredictable today than at any time in modern history.”

“We are experiencing a political reorientation, a redefining — and moving toward a new political center of gravity,” Hagel said. “This movement is bigger than both parties. The need to solve problems and meet challenges is overtaking the ideological debates of the last three decades — as it should.”
Words like that make Hagel sound as if he is considering an independent bid for the White House. But he seems too much a pragmatist to pine for something so impossible; before his non-announcement announcement, Hagel talked shop in a conference call with political supporters and said he still enjoyed serving in the Senate.

Our gut tells us Hagel was tamping down early -- make that too-early -- expectations. He could wait six months, allow other GOP candidates to flame out, then come in as the real conservative in the race, right with his party on the issues. Sure, Dick Cheney talks smack about him, but why should Hagel care? Cheney's past his sell-by date, and voters are with Hagel on his stand against the war in Iraq. Maybe an announcement about nothing was the wise move, after all.


John Stone said...

As far as Repug Prez politics go this time around, it is going to be fun to sit on the top of the hill and watch the bloody battle below. And then when all the bloodletting is exhausted, to saunter down to the battlefield and kill off the survivors.

He is just waiting until "it's time is right" ...

He's wrong ... but I like him for standing up to Bush anyway.

Strannix said...

Fred Thompson is taking much the same tack as Hagel, playing coy by not yet announcing, but putting the possibility out there. Considering how unenthusiastic GOP voters are over their current prospective crop of candidates, this seems fairly pragmatic. Why weary the voters of your face so early if you don't have to?

On the flipside, any Democrat that wants to get in the race and be seriously considered best hop to it (the exception being Al Gore; he could probably wait till Christmas and still do just fine).

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or Whig. If you're not out there raising money NOW, your chances are slimmer by the day of having your message heard by enough supporters, and then voters, to ultimately matter in November '08. The "tamping down" theory only makes sense if Hagel is a total idiot, which he is not. He may be posturing for a VP nomination, but not for the White House.