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Hagel Chides Colleagues On Iraq Vote: ˜If You Wanted A Safe Job, Go Sell Shoes

By ThinkProgress on January 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm

"Hagel Chides Colleagues On Iraq Vote: ˜If You Wanted A Safe Job, Go Sell Shoes"

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This morning in his opening statements before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said, “The American people are far ahead of us” on what to do next in Iraq. “They’re not conflicted with the nuances of life. They understand what’s going on.” According to a recent Gallup Poll, 56 percent of Americans want a withdrawal from Iraq within a year.

Hagel chided his fellow colleagues for being too concerned about the politics of their Iraq positioning. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes,” he said. Hagel concluded that all 100 Senators have a responsibility to take a position on escalation. “We owe it to those men and women that we continue to send in that grinder.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/01/hagel_grinder.320.240.flv]

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Transcript:

This is a very real, responsible addressing of the most divisive issue in this country since Vietnam. Yes, sure, it’s tough. Absolutely. And I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this.

What do you believe? What are you willing to support? What do you think? Why were you elected?

If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes. This is a tough business. But is it any tougher, us having to take a tough vote, express ourselves and have the courage to step up on what we’re asking our young men and women to do?

I don’t think so.

When I hear, on both sides of this argument, impugning motives and patriotism to our country, not only is it offensive and disgusting but it debases the whole system of our country and who we are.

My goodness. Can’t we debate the most critical issue of our time, out front, in front of the American people?

The expect it. Are we so weak, we can’t do that?

I don’t think so. Like always, the American people are far ahead of us sitting here, far ahead of us. Because we’re concerned about politics. We’re concerned about our position. We’re concerned about our next election.

So we tinker. So we figure out wordsmithing. So should we oppose the president or just not support the president?

Different languages: disagree with the president ; that’s not as harsh as oppose the president.

But you know what, the American people have got this sorted out. They always have. They’re not conflicted with the nuances of life. They understand what’s going on. What we are proposing here — and everyone will have an opportunity to voice their opinion, present their amendments, make their case, as they should.

It’s the strength of who we are, the fabric of our society.

But we owe it to those men and women that we continue to send in that grinder.

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