The fight over Chuck Hagel already has claimed "my patience" as its first casualty. And the reason has everything to do with why I probably won’t be seeing the new Tom Cruise movie, “Jack Reacher.”
- I feel I’ve seen these movies before and know how they’re going to end. With “Jack Reacher,” I don't have any interest in watching Tom Cruise save America from another international conspiracy if Lalo Schifrin isn't somehow involved. Which is to say: I’ve seen this movie, and I’ve seen it better. Likewise, with the GOP's adaptation of "Chuck Hagel," I don’t really have any interest in watching a bush-league D.C. bitch-fest pretend it's some “Top Gun”-level policy debate, particularly since I and everyone else can pretty much guess the ending: “Hagel/Cruise emerges victorious, scarred, but alive; ready to fight another day.” In other words, what the GOP is selling right now isn't worth the $12 plus popcorn and drink it takes for most people to sit, watch and recommend others do the same.
- I’m still not sure what the story is these people are trying to sell me. Best I can tell, "Jack Reacher" is an M.P. and he’s following somebody .. and then there’s a conspiracy .. and Werner Herzog plays the villain, who's Russian. That make sense to you? Ditto "Chuck Hagel": He’s the recipient of two Purple Hearts ... however he loves anyone who is an anti-Semite like him ... but none of this was really a problem until he endorsed Barack Obama in 20-08. ... What?!
- The reviews aren’t helping. “Jack Reacher” gets 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is fair. However, the bigger name critics are panning it, while even a few of the favorable reviews have lines like, “A less robotic lead would have been appreciated.” Ouch. Same goes for "Chuck Hagel." Bigger names are dismissing it, while the usual crowd, quick to give anything conservatives do a glowing review, are crowing the loudest:
“‘Chuck Hagel,’ most satisfying controversy in years!” – 60 Second Policy Review
“It’s ‘Die Hard’ on a Sunday morning talk show!” – Gipper's Film Quarterly
“’Chuck Hagel’ has an ending that will shock you .. if you only ever watch conservative media.” – Reel Republican
Okay, I made those up. But you get my point.
- Sequelitis. Politics works exactly like Big Budget Hollywood: Whatever sells, do it again a million times. You can smell "sequel" on the breath of "Jack Reacher." Ditto, "Chuck Hagel." Hell, you can argue "Chuck Hagel" is the unofficial sequel to "Susan Rice" (no nomination, though). And there are already reports that conservatives plan to make confirmation battles as ever-present as debt ceiling fights.
There is one key difference, though. Hagel, an honorable man, will emerge from this fight permanently, and unfairly, scarred--his reputation ruined among a large portion of people in the United States and the world, and all because Republicans gave him a starring role in their latest character assault.
Cruise, on the other hand? I can't wait to see what helicopter he explodes out of next.