As Republicans continue to distance themselves from the political suicide of George W. Bush’s policies and his failed war in Iraq, some are also privately expressing doubts about his mental stability, saying the President’s erratic actions show a man increasingly out of control.
Even Bush’s former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, tells confidants he feels the President has "buckled under the pressure" of the administration’s increasingly unpopular and often contradictory actions.
That concern prompted Powell this week to publicly oppose Bush’s proposed plan to ignore the guidelines of the Geneva Convention and give the military and Central Intelligence Agency the right to torture suspects in the so-called "war on terror."
"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell said in a letter to Sen. John McCain, one of the Republican Senators opposing Bush’s push for the right to torture. "To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."
Powell, a career military soldier and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, knows a hell of a lot more about war than George W. Bush, who evaded service in Vietnam by using his then-Congressman father’s connections to land a safe spot in the Texas Air Guard only to fail to even complete that nominal service.
So does McCain, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. McCain is another Republican who tells aides that he is "increasingly disturbed" by the President’s actions.
McCain, Congressional sources say, was upset to learn the Bush White House pressured military lawyers who testified against the bill to sign a new letter expressing support. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who joined McCain in opposing the President’s plan, confirmed the military lawyers were forced to sign the letter.
Graham is also a former military lawyer and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
"It’s a bridge too far, and it’s not necessary," Graham says of Bush’s proposals. "It will result in putting us in legal jeopardy and erode our standing in the world community."
Other Republicans object to Bush’s strong push to pass his plan quickly with little time for consideration or debate. It reminds them of the headlong rush to pass the USA Patriot Act, a bill that stripped away most of the protections of the Constitution and was rushed into a law by a post-9/11 shell-shocked Congress. Many who voted for the bill admitted later they hadn’t even read the legislation.
Graham did take time to read the bill.
"I fell over when I read it," he said.
A growing number of Republicans admit shock at the President’s actions.
"The White House has lost its way on a number of important issues," says Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. Bush’s Iraq war, Hagel adds, "is a replay of Vietnam."
Republican Tom Kean Jr., running for Senate in New Jersey, says Bush has been dishonest with the American people about the war in Iraq.
"There have been horrendous mistakes made in the war in Iraq," Kean told the Newark Star-Ledger. "The president should acknowledge that. He needs to level with the American people."
Asked if such a step might bring down the wrath of the President, Kean shrugged his shoulders and added:
"If it means that I’m angering the White House, so be it."