The following is Columbia Spectator's opinion article Queasy From Politics? Consider Chuck:
People say politics make them sick. Last December, I found myself bent double in a Schapiro bathroom, cursing the irony of that figure of speech-I was probably the first in a long line of political junkies following this marathon 2008 presidential race to actually start throwing up. I'd just been an unpaid guest at a fundraiser for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's possible run, and a simple thought process began floating through my head: 1. I hope Giuliani's as sick off of his hors d'oeuvres as I am. 2. He's the "frontrunner" of my party? God help us. 3. I should've at least taken advantage of that free alcohol and gotten really sick. 4. Is there no alternative?
Well, according to polls in various early primary states, Giuliani is indeed in the lead for the Republican Party's nomination. Why's that a bad thing? Long story short-Giuliani is a firm supporter of the war in Iraq because, in his own words, "We didn't start this war." Those words came from that December fundraiser, but he's elaborated on them before, saying, "Bush stood amid the fallen towers of the World Trade Center and said... 'They will hear from us.' They have heard from us! [...] They heard from us in Iraq, and we ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror."
I watched the attendees of the crowded fundraiser shoot each other concerned looks. Oblivious, the former mayor waxed poetic about the "pillars of the global terrorism movement." Even the well-groomed Armani-clad Princeton grads in front of me looked uncharacteristically skittish. News flash, Rudy, they seemed to say-this is not a James Bond movie. There's no mysterious organization behind every single violent group, led by a cat-stroking Bin Laden that mysteriously pulls strings in the "Axis Of Evil," causing "Islamo-fascists" to magically pop up and hate us for our freedom. And there is positively no link-none, zilch-between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.
We Republicans lost the Senate and House in 2006 by trying to sell that moronic reductionist snake oil to a public that wanted actual solutions. Even more embarrassingly, we lost out to small-government Democrats like Jon Tester in places like Montana. The lesson seems clear-if we try running that stupid party line in 2008 when the death toll's even higher, we'll not only usher in the biggest Democratic sweep since Nixon's ouster, but we'll also cause more failures and chaos abroad in the name of hollow "victories" and more coffins at home. In the upcoming presidential election, we need to run a realist conservative who's willing to listen to reason, not another windbag who lacks any desire to talk about the realities of war.
Frontrunner Rudy isn't the only one barking up the wrong tree. John McCain, for example, has staked his fortune on this "troop surge" policy, even as he quietly seethed to The Today Show on Jan. 4 that it probably should be higher than 20,000, based on how peachy things are going at present. There's only one potential candidate I've seen from my party's field that's willing to discuss terror and foreign policy as real issues rather than empty talking points-and he's a staunch fiscal conservative with a record to appease the family values crowd, despite not caring if states allow civil unions for gay people.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong. Consider Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. He's been speaking out against the administration's conduct in the Iraq war since it rolled into Baghdad, and he should be our next president. For a long time, he was a black sheep in the Republican Party, despite the fact that he was the senator that most stringently toed the White House's line on issues like tax cuts in 2006. He was ostracized by Dick Cheney and largely ignored by the media.
Ignored until now, that is. He's put his foot down on this half-hearted and ill-planned "troop surge," going so far as to say, "I don't think we've ever had a coherent strategy [in Iraq.]" For those cowardly rhetoricians who'd rather cling to talking points on either side of the aisle than develop a cohesive solution, he has a pretty simple message: "Why are you elected? If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes." He's looking for actual debate on alternatives, instead of bleating on about "victory or defeat," like Joe Lieberman or Rudy Giuliani.
Chuck Hagel is not the "perfect" candidate for everyone. But he's willing to talk with others even as this supposedly proactive Democratic Congress drags its feet and holds empty oversight meetings. It's only fitting to close with a quote from John F. Kennedy, across the political aisle: "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer." Chuck Hagel's seeking that answer, and we, regardless of political affiliation, need to work to put him in the White House. These brain-dead blowhards in nice suits talking about "pillars of global terrorism" make me sick-figuratively, in this case. Real problems call for real solutions, and Chuck Hagel can finally provide those when we need them most.