Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Looking for Signs of a Bipartisan Sea Change on George W. Bush?

Keep your eye on Chuck Hagel.

Carl Bernstein, the anti-Woodword, has published a remarkable piece in Vanity Fair
, in which he calls for bipartisan hearings this year investigating the Bush presidency and asks the question, should Republicans on the Hill take the high road and save themselves come November?

Elsewhere, I have parsed Bernstein's piece, (albeit not too parsimoniously).

The mounting criticism of Rumsfeld from Republican politicians is directed at diverting blame from themselves for following, aiding and abetting Bush. Just as criticism from retired military is intended to divert blame away from the military which followed, aided and abetted Bush. Both want separation from Bush and by dramatically increasing degrees.

Those of us on the Progressive side are encouraged. We have welcomed signs of a sea change from GOP leaders on the un-provoked, unnecessary, unplanned, and largely unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq (UUULUIOI), on the incredibly mounting debts Bush has run up, and especially, finally, and penultimately on Bush himself.

Progressives want this 2006 election to be a referendum on impeachment: Congressional majorities are needed to hold oversight hearings and issue subpoenas. But nutcase saber-rattling and brinkmanship by the two demagogues, Ahmadinejad and Bush, make oversight much more urgent.

We need a Republican leader to stand up and tell Bush to stand down.

It's nice that George Will, Bob Barr, William Buckley, Bruce Bartlett, and Pat Buchanan all have a strong case of buyers' remorse.

What is needed to document a sea change on Bush himself is the same thing which is needed for a press/media event: it has to be a Republican office holder.

Richard Lugar came out this week or last for talks with Iran. That was nice, but Richard looks too nice and so gentle with his frozen smile. And hell will freeze over and Tehran will glow before chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter grows a pair.

We know where the Senator from Arizona is headed. At his advanced age, McCain wants so much to be President that he's willing to reinvent himself, courting the dixiecrats and the theocrats to grab at Bush's remnants. Why, he's even willing to out-Rumsfeld and out-Bush by calling for more troops and perhaps (by implication) a draft.

For those looking for historical parallels: LBJ had his obsequious vice-president, Hubert Horatio Humphrey; GWB has only his leader Cheney who's a dog who won't hunt (with others, anyway); so, it must fall to McCain to be the ultra-loyalist, entitlement candidate and reprise HHH.

But who's the other distinguished Vietnam Vet serving on the Republican side in the Senate? Who's that other GOP senator from a western state who has spoken out very critically on the UUULUIOI? And what does he have to lose by getting up out of his chair? Does he have a presidential chance against McCain's momentum?

I say he does have one chance. And I bet he's thinking about it.

If you're looking for a sea change, a tipping point, keep one eye on Chuck Hagel.