- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

The I-word

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska has become the first prominent Republican lawmaker to raise the possibility of impeaching President Bush over his conduct of the war in Iraq.

The Nebraska Republican, a longtime Iraq war critic who is considering an outsider bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, said in the most recent issue of Esquire magazine that Congress could impeach the commander in chief if he doesn’t pay heed to actions on Capitol Hill.

Some say “he’s not accountable any more, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends on how this goes,” he said in the magazine’s April issue.

Mr. Hagel also held out the possibility of impeachment on yesterday’s political talk shows, reports Eric Pfeiffer of The Washington Times, though Mr. Hagel neither directly called for Mr. Bush to be impeached, nor said he backs any such move.

“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 … there are ways to deal with that,” Mr. Hagel told ABC’s “This Week” yesterday.

“This is not a monarchy,” Mr. Hagel said of the Democrats’ ability to impeach the president. “There are ways to deal with it. And I would hope the president understands that.”

Politics and crime

“The recent flap over the Bush administration’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys has demonstrated the escalation of two related and unfortunate trends in American politics: the politicization of crime and the criminalization of politics,” James H. Joyner Jr. writes at Tech Central Station, www.tcsdaily.com.

“Regardless of whether any laws were broken, there has been a disturbing lack of professionalism in the way this has been handled, from the overzealous reaction to the president’s expressed concern about going after voter fraud to the instinctive [defensive reaction] when Congress started making inquiries,” he writes.

Mr. Joyner, a private-sector defense analyst, says both the firings and the ensuing confrontation between the White House and Congress are part of a continuing trend of “the politicization of everything [that] has been going on for quite some time now.”

Bill Clinton’s administration took it to a level of high art. Unfortunately, its successor, which ran on a pledge to ‘restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office,’ has instead raised the bar.

“The corollary phenomenon, an outgrowth of the Watergate scandal, is the criminalization of even minor political disputes. … The use of independent counsels, special prosecutors, congressional subpoenas and the like are so pervasive as to be commonplace. The unfortunate result is more entrenchment and reluctance to simply come forward and admit mistakes. Ironically, as we saw in the Scooter Libby trial, that often leads to actual criminal conduct.”

Huckabee’s pitch

A blip in most of the early polling, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Saturday he believes his conservative views will prevail.

“Sometimes when people say, ‘When you get traction, I’m going to be with you,’ my answer is, ‘You are my traction,’ ” the former Arkansas governor told the Associated Press.

“If people of genuine conservative convictions don’t support a conservative with convictions, then quite frankly I’m not sure what the point would be to be in politics,” he said in an interview.

Snubs and honors

Former Gov. Jeb Bush was snubbed for an honorary degree at the University of Florida — but he can still call himself an honorary alumnus.

The university’s Alumni Association’s Board of Directors passed a resolution Saturday to make Mr. Bush an honorary alumnus. The move came on the heels of a 38-28 Faculty Senate vote on Thursday to deny Mr. Bush an honorary degree.

The main difference between the awards is that the degree is given by the university, and the alumni association decides who receives honorary alumni status, said Steve Orlando, a University of Florida spokesman. The association extends the honor to a handful of people each year.

“They might be in two different categories, but from the alumni perspective, we highly respect those that have been given or granted the status of honorary alumnus,” said Leonard Spearman, president of the University of Florida Alumni Association.

In deciding not to give Mr. Bush an honorary degree, some faculty members cited concerns about Mr. Bush’s educational record in respect to the university, the Associated Press reports. Some said his approval of three new medical schools has diluted resources. He also has been criticized for his “One Florida” proposal, an initiative that ended race-based admissions programs at state universities.

But Mr. Spearman said the association selected Mr. Bush because he supported research at the University of Florida, and because of his efforts to provide funding for more faculty and create a statewide scholarship program. He said the association’s selection had nothing to do with the faculty’s vote.

“What we did was in our own rights, not in our reaction to the Senate,” he said.

Hog wrangler

Former White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu has a new title — hog wrangler.

Mr. Sununu and his wife, Nancy, recently were named to the honorary post of hog reeve in Hampton Falls, N.H., complete with a swearing-in ceremony and a badge. The post, which dates back to the 1700s, means the couple are responsible for rounding up any loose pigs in town.

The title is usually given to an unsuspecting newcomer each year. The Sununus recently moved from Salem to Hampton Falls to be closer to relatives.

“Somebody had warned us,” Mr. Sununu said. “We had some friends who had come to town earlier.”

He was New Hampshire governor for three terms in the 1980s and chief of staff to the first President Bush from 1989 to 1991, and now he’s taking his new job in stride, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s one of the great honors,” Mr. Sununu said. “We got a badge and everything. If you need any hogs rounded up, call me.”

Healthy Hooters

A congressional staffer saw an article in the Seattle Times that reported that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was funding a Web site, HealthyDiningFinder.com, that allows diners to search for healthy menu options by ZIP code.

Curious, the staffer went to the site, entered the Senate ZIP code (20510) and discovered that “the first restaurant to pop up was fast food — Burger King. Hooters also made the list. Also worth noting, Hooters was listed as a ‘family’ restaurant.”

A check by The Washington Times verified the staffer’s discovery. Other eateries on the federally funded site’s recommended list of healthy dining spots for senators: Domino’s Pizza, Au Bon Pain, and Maui Tacos at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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