Although they spent 45 minutes seated almost side by side Wednesday morning, U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel and U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne weren't their usual easygoing selves at the weekly Nebraska Breakfast.Highest regard? I think Osborne would probably disagree with his treatment by Hagel indicating that. No, highest regard would have to entail at least waiting for Osborne to be settled-in from his trip to Iraq before laying this sort of bombshell on him. A gentlemanly phone call probably wouldn't have been asking too much either.
There's usually some lighthearted banter between the two during the gatherings of the state's congressional delegation and Nebraskans visiting Washington. But as Wednesday's event wrapped up, Osborne made for a quick exit....
Asked..what he thought of Hagel's surprise endorsement of Gov. Dave Heineman's 2006 election bid, Osborne, a Republican who's considering running for governor himself, said only: "I really have no comment on that...."
The senator said he tried to get in touch with Osborne earlier this week, but Osborne was on a congressional trip, meeting U.S. troops in Iraq and Germany. Hagel's chief of staff, Lou Ann Linehan, did speak with Osborne's staff chief, Bruce Rieker, before the endorsement announcement, he said.
"I don't know what Congressman Osborne's going to do," Hagel said. "I have the highest regard for him."
What was the hurry? Hagel endorsing Heineman later in the week, after having a chance to talk with Osborne, would have still nabbed the same headlines without the implied slap in the face - at least to the degree seen here. Sure, Osborne probably wasn't going to be happy about the endorsement of a potential challenger, but such a simple gesture would still have paid him the courtesy and respect to which he and his adoring public surely think he's entitled.
Osborne's done a lot for Nebraska, whether his Congressional record testifies to that or not. Maybe Hagel's 15-year absence during the majority of the Osborne-era of Cornhusker football is to blame. Obviously, the pride he helped instill in this entire state never quite reached Hagel's Virginia home. Otherwise, it would be understood that Dr. Tom deserves better.
But, then again, this is politics. What did Osborne expect? Back-stabbing and innuendo are how the game is played - even when playing with fellow Republicans. If he doesn't like it, Osborne can get off the field, surely asking himself as so many have done before him, "Where is the love?".