NO HAGGLING LATELY: Have you noticed the lack of media appearances by Chuck Hagel lately? The Republican, who may very well be more liberal than his Democratic counterpart Ben Nelson, had been a regular on the TV circuit since the inauguration. That is, however, until last June when he opened his mouth and inserted his foot for US News and World Report, saying that the White House is "totally disconnected from reality" about Iraq. Search Google News for "Chuck Hagel" and you'll see what I mean. Who knows how CNN's Inside Politics and Hardball have managed to survive without Hagel's daily musings.

I'm thinking that someone whom Hagel trusts, whether it be an aide or a senate colleague, pulled Hagel aside and gave him the straight news: If you want to be a contender for the Republican nomination in 2008, don't say stuff that will make you a star among the MoveOn crowd. Looks like Hagel could be listening.

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