Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is the latest Republican leader to break ranks with the Bush Administration, calling the administration's Iraq policy "disconnected from reality."
Hagel, in an interview in the June 27 issue of U.S. News & World Report, said he's angered by the 1,700 U.S. soldiers dead and nearly 13,000 wounded in Iraq. But he's also aggravated by the Bush Administration's never-ending propaganda campaign — telling Americans to ignore their television sets and agree with their sunny assessments of the war.
"Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," Hagel told the magazine. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq. ... More and more of my colleagues up here are concerned."
That makes 10 Republican Senators who have spoken out — dare I say, taken "leadership positions" — against the Bush Administration in less than a month. It's a list that covers topics such as whether to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, protecting U.S. consumers from the administration's drug industry pals, and preventing Bush lackey Bill Frist (R-TN) from being able to employ the "nuclear option," upending the Senate's rules on filibusters.
The list of 10, if you are scoring at home, is now:
-- John McCain of Arizona
-- Mel Martinez of Florida
-- Charles Grassley of Iowa
-- Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine
-- Mike DeWine of Ohio
-- Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island
-- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
-- John Warner of Virginia
Critics of criticism — that rare brand of conservative who believes in free speech only when it's tied to some sort of loyalty oath — would identify the New England Senators as "liberal Republicans" (gasp), and DeWine, Graham, Hagel and McCain as possible 2008 presidential candidates (harrumph).
Let's not be naive. While politicians want to keep one eye on their constituent's best interests, they're keeping the other eye, both ears, their nose, mouth, arms, legs and tushy on their viability as elected officials.
The "you're with us or you're un-American" attitude of the Bush administration works better when Bush's popularity is soaring. It's not right now. And on issues like the rising cost — financial and human — of Iraq, and our treatment of detainees at Gitmo, Bush's popularity has fallen to very uncomfortable levels. Abandon the ship levels.