Brief of the Week September 22

HAGEL DOWN ON PALIN: Having pointedly refused to endorse fellow Republican John McCain for President and at odds with both McCain and the Bush Administration over Iraq for years, Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel last week took an unusually harsh whack at his party’s vice presidential candidate. In an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, the two-term senator (who is not seeking re-election this year) said of Sarah Palin: “I think it’s a stretch to, in any way, to say that she’s got the experience to be President of the United States.” Palin, in Hagel’s opinion, “doesn’t have any foreign policy credentials. You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don’t know what you can say. You can say anything.” The senator went on to pounce on Palin’s observation that her state and Russia are “next-door neighbors,” telling the World-Herald: “I think they [sic] ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about ‘I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia.’ That kind of thing is insulting to the American people.” As for other governors who won national office without meeting a head of state (such as Bill Clinton, who freely admitted he didn’t know any world leaders when he first ran for President in 1992), Hagel said that “in a world that is so complicated, so interconnected and so combustible, you really got [sic] to have some people in charge that have some sense of the bigger scope of the world. I think that’s just the requirement.” Regarding Hagel’s stand on the presidential race, his spokesman Jordan Stark reiterated to HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi last week that the Nebraskan “reserves the right as a citizen to make a choice, but at this point, he has not endorsed either candidate and has no plans to do so.”