Inkwell has already nominated Sen. Chuck Hagel for a False Courage Award. Now, Mark Lasswell of the Wall Street Journal praises Chuck for courageously taking on the shoe salesmen of America:

“Washington is a city of many diversions, but very little surpasses the pure entertainment value of watching a senator–media chatter about his potential attractiveness as a presidential prospect ringing in his ears–commandeer the microphone during a committee meeting and then posture in a most forceful and statesmanlike way for the television cameras. Sen. Hagel did not disappoint last week. As the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations prepared to vote on the resolution expressing outright opposition to the increase in troops, Sen. Hagel, a longstanding critic of the war, was in ultra-dudgeon about what he apparently regards as an insufficient amount of Capitol Hill kibitzing on the president’s conduct of the war.

“I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line” by having to make a “tough vote” on the troop increase, Sen. Hagel said. In a bit of bullying that instantly became the TV quote of the day, he then appeared to call out an unspecified number of his honorable colleagues as cowards: “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.”

“Now, this seemed like a low blow–against shoe-store employees. Surely Sen. Hagel was not suggesting that selling shoes is physically safer than serving in the Senate. In the past two months alone, according to police reports, robbers have struck several shoe stores across the country. A Payless ShoeSource store in Philadelphia was held up on Jan. 16. At another Payless, in Palm Bay, Fla., near Melbourne, a man with a knife robbed the store on Dec. 26 and then demanded a kiss from a female clerk, police said. (Reader, she kissed him.) At the Boynton Beach Mall in Florida on Christmas Eve, according to police, a gang confrontation in a shoe store turned violent, leaving one victim dead from a gunshot wound. On Dec. 10 at the Shoe Biz store in South Bend, Ind., a man posing as a customer asked about children’s shoes and then threatened to “get violent” unless he was given money. An employee handed over the store’s cash; the man also stole her cellphone. On and on the police blotter goes.”