Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough had me on his MSNBC show tonight to talk about impeachment.
It was smart, civil discussion that treated the prospect of impeaching the president as a serious matter.
Scarborough took the lead in suggesting that Bush’s biggest problem might be that Republicans in the House and Senate who — fearful of the threat Bush poses to their political survival — do not appear to be rallying ’round the president. The host’s sentiments were echoed by two other guests, columnist Mike Barnicle and Salon’s Joan Walsh.
The impetus for the show was Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel’s ongoing discussion of the impeachment prospect — Hagel’s not quite a supporter of sanctioning Bush, more a speculator about the prospect — and a new column by Robert Novak that suggests Bush has dwindling support within the congressional wing of the GOP.
Speaking about impeachment on ABC’s “This Week,” Hagel said, “Any president who says ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else’ or ‘I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed’ — if a president really believes that, then there (are) ways to deal with that.”
Novak wrote “The I-word (incompetence) is used by Republicans in describing the Bush administration generally. Several of them I talked to described a trifecta of incompetence: the Walter Reed hospital scandal, the FBI’s misuse of the Patriot Act and the U.S. attorneys firing fiasco. ‘We always have claimed that we were the party of better management,’ one House leader told me. ‘How can we claim that anymore?'”
Scarborough drew the two statements together for the purpose of asking whether Bush could count on Republicans to block moves by Congressional Democrats to hold Bush to account for high crimes and misdemeanors.
When a conservative commentator who was on the frontlines of Newt Gingrich’s “Republican revolution” entertains a thoughtful conversation about the politics and processes of impeachment on a major cable news network, it should be clear that the cloistered conversation about sanctioning this president has begun to open up.
No, Scarborough is not jumping on the impeachment bandwagon.
He is simply treating the prospect seriously, as did CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier in the day.