HAGEL WAITS FOR GOP TO ‘COME BACK TO ITS SENSES’…. Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) of Nebraska hasn’t been especially fond of his Republican Party lately, and one assumes his party hasn’t been pleased with him either.

With this recent history in mind, it didn’t come as much of a surprise to see the center-right Nebraskan take his party to task in a recent interview with the Washington Diplomat.

“I don’t see them presenting any alternatives, any new options or any new thinking,” Hagel said. “If the Republicans get back in power, what are they going to do? There is no articulation. It’s just a ‘no no no, I’m against Obama because he’s a socialist and he’s taking America in the wrong direction.’ That’s certainly an opinion, but what about you, Mr. Republican? What would you do?”

Of particular interest, though, was Hagel’s relative optimism about the future of his increasingly radicalized party.

…Hagel has no plans to renounce his membership in the party and says he remains confident it can “come back to its senses.”

“The Republican Party will find a new center of gravity,” he predicted. “I think they’ll let this nonsense play out. It’s like a bad storm — it just has to go through.”

I hear this sentiment from time to time, usually from sane, mainstream Republicans who aren’t thrilled with the hysterical right-wing takeover of their party, but who are inclined to wait it out. This too shall pass, they say. The nonsense is like a fad, eventually to be replaced by GOP grown-ups.

I’d like to believe this. The American political system is far more effective when there are two major political parties that are serious about policy and problem-solving, and I’m convinced that everyone would benefit if Hagel’s right and his party’s radicalism “plays out.”

But I’d also really love to know when, exactly, we might be able to expect this to happen. It’s certainly not likely anytime soon — if the most right-wing Republican Party in generations is rewarded in November, the GOP’s leadership will conclude that radicalism produced the victories, and the incentive to “let this nonsense play out” will disappear.

So when can we anticipate this return to maturity?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.