December 27, 2010 7:06PM

Is Chuck Hagel a Republican?

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.