Chuck Hagel, the senator from Nebraska, describes himself as a "tidal" politician, one who believes that larger forces in society shape careers more than the ambitions of individuals. "The only mistakes I've made," he told me last week, "were when I tried to go against the tide."
Next month, Hagel will make a threshold decision -- whether to run for a third term in the Senate. He gave me no definitive answer, but my guess is that he will say that 12 years of battling the institutional lethargy of Capitol Hill will be enough. Certainly he is under no illusions about how much he can achieve as one of 100 lawmakers.
The imperative the public will impose on the next president, Hagel says, "is to lead the country and restore the sense of national purpose." But the early start on campaigning for the GOP and Democratic nominations, and the prospect that the battles on one side or the other or both could continue right through next summer's conventions, could make it harder for the survivor to be that unifying figure.
Monday, August 27, 2007
David S. Broder's column in yesterday's Washington Post, "Bloomberg And Hagel For 2008?", is certainly worth a read.