Didn't see the entire thing, only the snippets, but it certainly seemed like Chuck Hagel was either a deer in the headlights or playing the shrewd game to keep from making news. He did anyway.
And the Repubs certainly tried to goad him into popping off. But this effort looks just a wee bit personal:
Rachel Maddow led off her show tonight highlighting this, pointing out how McCain had been best buds with Hagel back when we were going into Iraq only to split company after Hagel saw the bright light of the reality-based community and decided to follow the path taken by former GOPers like Colin Powell and Lawrence Wilkerson, jabbing the GOP at every available opportunity. There's definitely bad blood.
Speaking of the general, O'Reilly interviewed Powell this week and asked what no mainstreamer would--did old hard feelings arise after he was sent out to the UN to make the case for Iraq? In other words, is this just score-settling now? The general was officially shocked, shocked at such an insinuation and indicated he was fully onboard with the intel and he wasn't going to give traction to any such silliness, etc., which forced O'Reilly to back down. Maybe a designed play to leave the impression there were no ulterior motives in his supporting one of the most liberal Democrats the country has ever seen rise to the presidency.
But the question OR should have asked was, "does it have anything to do with you knowing who the Plame leaker was--your deputy Richard Armitage--very early on and not going to the president to inform him, letting the entire special prosecutor Libby thing go down?" He may have had a pat answer, but there is evidence Powell and his crew at State thought they'd been hosed by Cheney, Rove and the neocons and perhaps they've never gotten over it.
And that's probably part of what changed Chuck Hagel--Iraq. It split him from McCain and left the old loyal POW out there twisting in the wind with his decision. Maybe today was payback.
By the by, Maddow said repeatedly that "can we all finally agree the Iraq war was a mistake", the correct answer being the one Hagel used with McCain ("leaving the judgment to history"). It would be fun to ask people like her the question, "how would things have looked with Saddam still around this past decade?" Would the Arab Spring have occurred? Would Israel have given back Gaza? Or would our no-fly zones still be in operation? Maybe for 100 years? Few in the reality-based community care for such hypotheticals.