From Mr. Pierce’s 2007 piece:
His [Hagel's] face has darkened and his eyes seem to have turned to stone. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has come before the Foreign Relations Committee of a radically different Senate to try and explain, among other things, how sending twenty-one thousand additional United States troops into a meat grinder of a ground war is somehow not an escalation of the conflict. She keeps calling it an “augmentation.” She crawfishes on the subject of what will happen if the new strategy somehow sends American troops across the Iranian border. Chuck Hagel is having none of this.
“Some of us,” Hagel says, “remember 1970, Madam Secretary, and that was Cambodia, and when our government lied to the American people and said, We didn’t cross the border into Cambodia. In fact, we did. I happen to know something about that.
“I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign-policy blunder in this country since Vietnam — if it’s carried out.
“I will resist it.”
Rice sits there like an ice sculpture. The committee room erupts in applause.
I will resist it.
And as Pierce notes later,
Here’s another thing about that committee. A whole clutch of them are now — or have considered — running for president in 2008. [Then-chairman Joe] Biden’s in, and so are Barack Obama and Christopher Dodd. Feingold thought about it and, after contemplating how well a twice-divorced Jewish person from Wisconsin would play south of Kenosha, abandoned the idea. And then there’s Chuck Hagel, who isn’t even sure at this moment whether he’ll run for reelection to the Senate but who, in his own dogged, deliberately anticharismatic way, has found a cause with an audience.
I wonder what Obama and Biden think of this speech now. I’m sure there’s part of them that love the idea of a Republican telling his own president to cut the crap. I wonder, though, if they’ve considered that Hagel may do the same with them, if/when he becomes Secretary of Defense.
For example, over the growing — and unaccountable — use of drones.