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Chuck Hagel is quickly becoming Barack Obama's answer to Joe Lieberman.
The Republican Senator from Nebraska was a political thorn in McCain's side on Tuesday night, repeatedly lavishing praise on the presumptive Democratic candidate and levying major foreign policy criticisms at the GOP nominee and the Republican Party as a whole. At one point, Hagel even urged the Arizona Republican to elevate his campaign discourse to a higher, more honest level.
"We know from past campaigns that presidential candidates will say many things," Hagel said of some of McCain's recent rhetoric, namely his policy on talking to Iran. "But once they have the responsibility to govern the country and lead the world, that difference between what they said and what responsibilities they have to fulfill are vastly different. I'm very upset with John with some of the things he's been saying. And I can't get into the psychoanalysis of it. But I believe that John is smarter than some of the things he is saying.
"I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way...."
When asked to respond to rumors circulating within political circles that the Bush administration was ginning up the possibility of war with Iran, the Senator even raised the specter of impeachment.
"You've got the power of impeachment, now that is a very defined measure if you are willing to bring charges against the president at all. You can't just say I disagree with him, let's impeach him," said Hagel. An attack on Iran without Congress' consent, he added, "would bring with it... outstanding political consequences, including for the Republican Party."