Cynicism

01.09.13

Is There Anything Chuck Hagel Won't Say?

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Last night, Rachel Maddow took after Chuck Hagel because of the "Akin-esque" views on abortion expressed during his Senate career, as reported by Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski.

[A]s a Senator, Hagel repeatedly voted against amendments to allow servicewomen to pay for abortion services at military hospitals out of their own pockets.

According past campaign literature, he also opposed abortion in cases of rape and incest because those cases are "rare."

When he announced his candidacy for Senate, Hagel said that he opposed abortion except to protect the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest. Hagel decided he didn't believe that exclusion for rape were necessary after studying the issue near the end of his campaign. …
Then Senate-candidate Hagel said that he "tightened" his position on abortion after he said he discovered that abortion in the case of rape and incest are "rare" according to multiple local press reports.

The story is rich with entertainment.

It seems like only yesterday that people who cited Hagel's past views and comments were accused of practicing a politics of slur.

Will Democrats as quickly rubbish Rachel Maddow's scouring of the record as they did Brett Stephens'?

Adding to the entertainment: while Hagel's statements on Israel, Iran, and terrorist groups do seem to reveal the man's inner thinking, Hagel's statements on abortion - extreme as they are - look less heartfelt, and more cynical. Yet it's the insincere words that seem likely to do the nominee the most harm, because (having changed his mind on abortion once already), the nominee cannot easily dismiss them as just something he said to woo Republican primary voters back in Nebraska. Not "easily" because a confession of insincerity about abortion views in 1995 and 1996 will raise the question: if this is a man who 17 years ago said things he didn't believe to win an election, isn't there equal risk he'll today say things he doesn't believe to gain confirmation?