Sen. Chuck Hagel, one of the first Republicans to break with President George W. Bush on the failed Iraq war, believes Bush could face impeachment for his many crimes against the Constitution.

In an interview in the April issue of Esquire magazine, due to hit newsstands soon, Hagel says Bush has gone too far.

The president says "I don’t care." He’s not accountable anymore. Before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends on how this goes."

How it goes is what concerns Hagel and other Republicans, even though most of the others won’t speak out publicly about their misgivings over Bush.

To many, Bush has become the "despot-in-chief," a wannabe dictator run amok, oblivious to the rule of law, the constraints of the Constitution or the concept of checks and balances in what used to be a Democratic Republic called the United States of America.

Hagel told friends recently that whenever Republicans get together behind closed doors of the Senate cloakroom the conversation always turns to "what are we going to do about Bush?"

Publicly, conservative Republicans put on a façade of support for Bush. Privately, they call him the party’s biggest liability, a threat that not only cost them control of Congress in the November 2006 mid-term elections but one they feel will cost them the White House in 2008.

In a political system where survival trumps loyalty, Republicans look for ways to distance themselves from Bush.

Publicly, they still praise Bush as a "strong leader," although even that rhetoric is muted, but privately they admit their President will go down in history as a monumental failure and rank among the worst leaders in the history of the country.

"President Bush thought playing the 9/11 card would never grow old, even as voters watched with growing concern his administration’s incompetence, misjudgments and failures," writes Democratic strategist and consultant Norm Kurz on The Politico:

Continues Kurz:

His record — neglecting to fully prosecute the war that really mattered against Al-Qaeda; hyping the threat to national security when simply telling the truth about a genocidal dictator would have sufficed; needlessly dissipating the support of a sympathetic world after 9/11; an imperious attitude regarding domestic surveillance; the shameful symbolism of Abu Ghraib; sending our soldiers into battle without proper equipment and then bringing the injured home to inadequate care facilities — has finally broken the myth of Republican superiority on national security. As it turns out, Republicans are simply the War Party, and they are not very good at that either.

Although Republicans trivialized the impeachment process with their ill-conceived pursuit of Bill Clinton over an affair with a White House intern, impeachment is, and always should be, a tool of last-resort in dealing with an out-of-control President like Bush.

Yet Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley saw reasons to think about impeaching Bush in 2005 when he wrote an op-ed article for USA Today:

In some ways, it was inevitable that we would find ourselves at this historic confrontation. Bush has long viewed the law as some malleable means to achieve particular ends, rather than the ends itself. In this sense, there is an eerie similarity between the views of Bush and two of his predecessors: Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Beyond the fact that these two presidents share the ignominy of being accused of high crimes and misdemeanors, they shared a deep inherent flaw as individuals: They were relativists who treated morals or the law as fluid concepts that could be bent. A relativist believes that there are no absolute truths, but rather that morals or laws differ according to the context and people involved.

Sen. Hagel raises the possibility that Bush could be impeached for his many crimes. The question remains on whether or not Bush should be impeached.

He should.

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