People are making rather a lot of Sen. Chuck Hagel's statement yesterday in an Esquire magazine interview. I think it means more than nothing, but less than it might seem.
I thought Hagel's statement on impeachment was extraordinary, even though he put the thought in the third person and hypothetical future tense. "you might see calls for his impeachment" isn't a call to arms so much as a warning. He later refers to Congress' dereliction of duty as though he weren't a part 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."
See a "boy, did I screw up" in that? Any sign of a "yes, I made some noises that I didn't like the Military Commisions Act and some seriously unconstitutional parts of the Patriot Act that indicated I knew how dangerous they were, but voted for them anyway"? I don't see it, either. Part of any move for impeachment on the Republican side will have to include a mae culpa on the part of its leaders. We're not there yet.
So far, I mostly see posturing by Hagel to try to claim the role of the "maverick" Republican, even though mavericks are usually people who actually do something to set themselves apart from the crowd. We clearly live in a world of diminished expectations. And let's not forget Hagel's origins: he's the guy who owned the voting machine company that made the machines that counted the votes in his election, and apparently did it badly.
In 1996, Hagel became the first elected Republican Nebraska senator in 24 years when he did surprisingly well in an election where the votes were verified by the company he served as chairman and maintained a financial investment. In both the 1996 and 2002 elections, Hagel’s ES&S counted an estimated 80% of his winning votes. Due to the contracting out of services, confidentiality agreements between the State of Nebraska and the company kept this matter out of the public eye. Hagel’s first election victory was described as a “stunning upset” by one Nebraska newspaper.
Diebold, Electronic Voting and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
Let's just say that when I think of Chuck Hagel, Zorro isn't the cartoon character that comes to mind.
Still, this interview is important because it's a Republican mentioning the possible impeachment of his party's President and leader. It will get easier now, even though I still don't think Congress have the will to do it.
NOTE: Much of this text was part of a comment I made at Taylor Marsh's site.