NARDI: Glad you could join us, Mr. Senator

Tom Nardi

Chuck Hagel is many things. For one, he’s a Republican. He’s also the senior senator from Nebraska. He’s a decorated Vietnam War hero. He’s pledged to retire from the Senate in 2008 after two terms, and he is a potential presidential candidate. But did you know he just woke up from a six-year coma?

On Friday, the House passed the Iraq Accountability Act, a supplemental funding bill that sets a fall 2008 deadline to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq. While the bill squeaked through the House by only a six-vote margin, it has a far smaller chance of passing through the Senate without being stopped by a Republican filibuster. Since there are 49 Republican Senators, 50 including Joe Lieberman, an unlikely 10 would need to cross party lines to bring a vote to the floor of that chamber. Yet, the piece of legislation itself has the support of 59 percent of the public, compared to 34 percent disapproval and 7 percent unsure.

I’m not surprised George Bush has come out against the act. If the past six years have taught us nothing else, it’s that Bush doesn’t like being told what to do. Not by the 9/11 Commission, not by the Iraq Study Group, not by the Supreme Court, not by the American people and especially not by Congress. So it came as a shock to me when Senator Hagel dropped this pearl of wisdom over the weekend: “This is not a monarchy … And I would hope the president understands that.”

Tell me, Senator, when did you realize that Bush was ruling like a monarch? At what point during these past six years did you realize that the man running our country has shunned good advice at every turn, ignoring distinguished men like Colin Powell and ignoring them in favor of the ideologically driven drivel of Donald Rumsfeld? At what point did you see that the man in charge of our country has done what he alone has seen fit in the face of insurmountable facts to the contrary? What impeachment-worthy offense tipped you off that something was amiss?

Was it using the rubble of 9/11 to score political points for his agenda? Was it the dismissal of the United Nations and the world community to justify the illogical invasion of Iraq? Was it lying about WMDs? Was it the impotent response, if you can call it a response, to Hurricane Katrina? Was it his empty promise to fire those involved in the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson? Was it one of his copious signing statements claiming broad power to ignore the rule of law and do as he alone saw fit?

Was it his endorsement of torture to extract useless “confessions”? Or was it Abu Ghraib? Torture for amusement? Was it illegal wiretapping, used without the purview of the courts? Did secret prisons in Eastern Europe and around the globe finally hint that something was amiss? Or was it finally the U.S. attorney scandal, obstructing justice in pursuit of partisan politics? Or was it Bush actually saying, “A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier; there’s no question about it,” at least the third time he’s been recorded expressing his desire to be a dictator?

Far be it from me to criticize someone for finally seeing the light. But I just can’t believe it’s taken the good senator so long. I know he’s been on the anti-war side of the argument for a few years now, but it’s not as if Bush’s disdain for contrarian ideas is anything new.

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Tom Nardi is a junior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]