Hagel's moment?

On the front page of The Washington Post, he's thinking out loud about running for president. Over at Opinion Journal, Peggy Noonan is giving him a standing ovation for a speech he gave this week. Clearly Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska has the attention of the media. Will he use it solely to press his criticisms of President Bush's handling of Iraq, or will Hagel decide to seek the White House himself?

Here, as quoted by Noonan, is a piece of what Hagel said on Wednesday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was debating a non-binding resolution opposed to the president's announced plan for Iraq:

"I don't know how many United States senators believe we have a coherent strategy in Iraq. I don't think we've ever had a coherent strategy. In fact, I would even challenge the administration today to show us the plan that the president talked about the other night. There is no plan. . . . And I want every one of you, every one of us, 100 senators, to look in that camera, and you tell your people back home what you think. Don't hide anymore; none of us. That is the essence of our responsibility. And if we're not willing to do it, we're not worthy to be seated right here. We fail our country."

Two months ago, right after Hagel wrote an op-ed on the war, I suggested that Hagel is one of those politicians whose media image ("moderate") is at odds with his voting record (nearly down-the-line conservative) and that while that disconnect helps him get certain kinds of attention, it nevertheless hurts his chances to win his party's nomination. I still believe that, but he should run anyway. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are all subject to criticism, to one extent or another, from the right, and all three are on board with Bush on Iraq. Hagel may not be able to make the sale, but the constituency that fits his views is definitely out there.

UPDATE: That constituency is definitely not here.

UPDATE II: Jim Pinkerton opens up the run-as-an-independent can of worms here.