On Fox News’s Special Report tonight, discussing potential new Cabinet members for President Obama, Weekly Standard senior writer Stephen Hayes dismissed former senator Chuck Hagel as “an anti‐Republican Republican — somebody who’s officially a Republican but in fact isn’t all that Republican.”
It’s true that Hagel didn’t always march in lockstep with the Bush‐Cheney administration, whose loyal amanuensis Hayes has been. But is this really an “anti‐Republican” record?
- Voted for the Iraq war
- Voted for the Patriot Act
- Voted for the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts
- Voted against No Child Left Behind
- Voted against Bush’s Medicare prescription drug bill
- Voted against McCain‐Feingold
That’s not a down‐the‐line Bush‐McCain record. But would Hayes say it’s not a Republican voting record? Hagel had a lifetime rating of 84 percent from the American Conservative Union and consistent A and B grades from the National Taxpayers Union. He did emerge in 2006 as a critic of the Iraq war. And his wife endorsed Obama in 2008.
I never really bought the “epistemic closure” charge against movement conservatism. But if a leading conservative TV commentator can call Chuck Hagel an “anti‐Republican Republican” when his actual record is more traditionally Republican than the policies of the Bush‐Cheney administration, then there’s an odd sort of blacklisting going on.