Having survived a tour of duty in Vietnam and having made a fortune as a pioneer in the cellular phone industry, Chuck Hagel seemingly came out of nowhere to beat a popular sitting governor in a race for the U.S. Senate in 1996. Berens charts Hagels quick rise to national recognition and influence and examines the background that has led Hagel to an outspoken internationalism that often puts him at odds with his own party and president. This complex, plain-spoken Nebraskan may be on his way to the White House. Charlyne Berens explains why and how.
In late August 2004 the Republicans were celebrating the nomination of incumbent George W. Bush for another term as president of the United States. In the midst of the festivities, Chuck Hagel, a senator from Nebraska, was telling reporters that the Republican Party had come loose of its moorings. This was a bold position for someone identified by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe as a prospective 2008 presidential candidate, but it was not surprising coming from a Republican senator who had also recently remarked that the occupation of Iraq was poorly planned and that it had encouraged the spread of terror cells throughout the world. Who is Chuck Hagel, what is his story, and is he a genuine player on the national political stage? Charlyne Berens sets out to answer these questions in her close and careful look at one of the most interesting and independent figures on the current American political scene.