I was watching Scarborough Country Monday night and it felt like I'd fallen into an alternate universe. Joe Scarborough, you'll remember, went to Congress in 1994 and served as a first lieutenant in Newt Gingrich's Republican revolution. When he first came on the air a few years back, he was promoted by MSNBC as its version of Bill O'Reilly. I found him an insufferable flag-waving nit.
So imagine my surprise when I tuned in to see Scarborough leading a restrained discussion about impeaching the president. The day before, I watched Republican senator Chuck Hagel's appearance on ABC's This Week. On that program, 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."
The I-word is being brought out of the closet and into the public square. And it's little wonder, given the parade of incompetence and cronyism that has been unearthed of late. Seemingly every day, there is a new and more damning revelation about Attorney General Gonzalez' inability to get his story straight. Now, the recently fired attorneys are on the warpath, angrily hitting the news shows and demanding that the Justice Department clean up its act.
Again, I remind you, these are Republicans who are making these accusations.
The president's truculent unwillingness to accept the reality of a Democratic Congress intent on limiting his royal powers is one thing, but refusing to acknowledge the reality of his disconnect with the American public is quite another. Republicans are starting to get it. They realize their vulnerability in the forthcoming elections and they're jumping ship. They understand that Bush, as a lame duck, has nothing to lose by "staying the course" -- acting tough, holding his breath, and hoping the scandal goes away, and wishing with all his li'l Texas heart that Iraq will get fixed if we only just believe.
Bush's believers are a dying breed. And it's about time.