Hagel: Bush Might be Impeached ‘Before This is Over’
Charles Pierce dressed up as Zorro every Halloween until his freshman year in college. And he loves Chuck Hagel.
But there are no places in Hagel for metaphor. His face is too meaty for poetics, its tectonics shaped by old football injuries and one horrible day in the Mekong Delta when the flesh of it bubbled and burned. His sentences are too often arrhythmic, breaking in the middle, when what he’s saying takes an unexpected turn that seems to startle him most of all.
“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore,” Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”
The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word — impeachment — spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It’s barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.
“Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility,” he says. “The press abdicated its responsibility, and the American people abdicated their responsibilities. Terror was on the minds of everyone, and nobody questioned anything, quite frankly.”
The problem with impeachment, aside from the tactical difficulty of getting enough votes together, is that there have been no obvious crimes, high or otherwise, with which to bring charges. The “lying to get us to war” trope was rejected by the electorate with the 2004 election. The NSA surveillance controversy has long subsided. The Plame mess resulted in the conviction of Scooter Libby for a crime unrelated to outing a CIA agent. It’s hardly clear for what Bush would be impeahed.
Hegel is right, though, that “Congress abdicated its oversight responsibility.” But, then, that’s nothing new; with rare exceptions, they’ve been doing that since the 1930s. They’re too busy scrambling for their share of the pork–or running for higher office–to focus on something as unsexy as doing their job.
UPDATE: This talk, clearly calculated to endear Hagel to Bush haters and to further alienate him from the Republican base, buttresses the idea that he may be hoping to be the standard bearer for Unity08.