What was interesting were two side notes that he made. The first was when he traced the origin of the idea of the all-volunteer army back to Richard Nixon. Ok, fine. But what does it say about the state of our public discourse when we have prominent politicians claiming the mantle of Nixon? And it’s not that everything Nixon did was categorically bad (detente, and the EPA, for example, I think were good), but I just don’t think that when most people think of Nixon they think of dentente; I think they think “watergate, crook.” So maybe this is a non-deal, but for someone interested in rhetoric (me), it seems a perplexing choice for someone to favorably mention Nixon when he doesn’t have to. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Maybe Schwartzenegger started all of this at his convention speech?
The second interesting thing was when he was musing about the ’08 presidential election. Hagel said that it is bound to be historic insofar as neither major party has an heir (spoken like a true non-heir), and so both parties will have a great opportnity to have a debate within themselves to determine the priorities and message and etc of the party. I hope so. But I am not optimistic about the Republicans’ ability to emerge with anything new as a headlining act. I am optimistic, however, about the consequences of their inability to do that: the disintegration of their current regime, and the marginalization of their attempts to dismantle the Welfare State. (There’s my way-too-early prediction. Anybody else have one?)