As Chuck Hagel said, America rejected a king long ago. As George Will wrote, some of the seizures of presidential power demonstrate monarchical tendencies.

As former Congressman Bob Barr and former House Republican Leader Dick Armey have said, some of these extreme actions violate classic notions of conservatism, Republicanism and common sense.

These individuals and other very principled conservatives have spoken out strongly and clearly. They are not liberals, Democrats or progressives, and they would disagree with much of what I write on many things, but have spoken out with integrity on matters that have gone terribly wrong.

One test of integrity is having the willingness to challenge one’s friends, not only criticize one’s adversaries. I often work with very senior Democrats privately and rise in support of them publicly, but on this page yesterday, in my column about Imus and the apartheid in media (and elsewhere), I made these points:

Democrats should have put more support behind issues of importance to blacks and Hispanics, especially voter registration, voter turnout and the integrity of the franchise.

As strongly as I support Air America they should reach out far more boldly for alliances with African Americans and Hispanics. And while Rahm Emanuel is a brilliant political leader, it is absurd and ridiculous for him to treat Democrats in Congress as airheads and wimps and warn about appearing with Stephen Colbert.

Where are the Senate Republicans on Iraq, with a policy that a majority of their caucus privately believes is terribly wrong yet which only Chuck Hagel has spoken out against with conviction?

The blind support of almost the entire caucus of Senate Republicans, with almost 100 percent support, almost 100 percent of the time, for the entire length of this war, may be the single greatest abdication of constitutional responsibility in the history of the United States Senate.

I propose we refer to the Bush-Cheney-Susan Collins escalation of the Bush-Cheney-Norm Coleman policy in the Bush-Cheney-John Sununu war.

Enough of these dainty, wimpy, valueless public butt-covering comments about how they are oh-so-concerned about the surge while their voting records, for more than four years of this misbegotten war, are 98 percent to 100 percent in lockstep with salutes to the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Perle-Wolfowitz disaster.

George Bush just invited Democratic leaders in Congress to a Soviet-style meeting in the White House. His approach to bipartisanship with a coequal branch of government is that Congress crawls on its knees to the executive branch, is given marching orders by the Crown, and obeys.

In the Bush 43 version of democracy, leaders in Congress assume a supine position in their meetings with the Crown and are told there be no discussion of policy and no deviation from the dictates of the Decider. Congress will travel to the Castle, receive their orders, and execute 100 percent the whim of the Decider without even the trappings of collaboration between branches of government, or the pretense of cooperation between the two political parties.

The party that recently won control of Congress with a sweeping victory from the American people, who supported a dramatic change in the policy, has no role greater than taking orders from the Decider the way the goodfellas take orders from the Don, after kissing his ring.

The president was not merely insulting the Democrats; he was insulting and demeaning John Warner, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Norm Coleman, Arlen Specter, John Sununu, Dick Lugar. He was demeaning a coequal branch of government and demeaning the very notion of constitutional government where power is diffused among three branches government.

Many Senate Republicans know this is true.

Why is Chuck Hagel the only one to say it, and act on it, when they have the power to make a difference? Bush 43 invites Congress to a meeting with the same ground rules that Leonid Brezhnev invited the Soviet Central Committee to a meeting at the Kremlin.

Of course Bush 43.5, the senator from Arizona, seeking the goodwill from the Crown to win support for the succession, does the most bizarre and dishonest attempt at Pravda-like propaganda in the history of Baghdad media. Bush 43.5 then attacks Democrats for not supporting the troops, accuses Democrats of advocating surrender, charges Democrats with taking actions that America’s enemies cheer.

The real debate in Republican politics is the debate between the straight-talk, honest-politics, religious-tolerance, ethical campaigns of McCain 1, who ran in 2000, versus McCain 2, who runs as Bush 43.5, in 2008.

Bush 43 has learned no lessons from his five years of failed policy; Bush 43.5 has learned the wrong lessons from his defeat in 2000.

To paraphrase Barry Goldwater in 1964: When John McCain levels these McCarthyite charges against Democrats, in his heart he knows he is wrong.

Here is what the conventional-wisdom gurus don’t tell you: Who do you believe George Bush wants to be elected in 2008, and why? Of course, he wants Bush 43.5, for a simple reason. The ultimate goal of George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush is to elect Jeb Bush as President. The worst case for the Bush family is that Americans elect a new, two-term president in 2008, from either party, which destroys the Jeb Bush ascension. The best case is a new president too old to serve two terms, hence the alliance between Bush 43 and Bush 43.5.

To our brother and sister Republicans in the Senate, think about this: The election of any two-term Republican in 2008 is even worse for the Jeb Bush presidential plan than the election of a two-term Democratic president.

Enough of the flim and the flam in American politics. Enough of the positioning of partisans, which corrupts the conduct of war.

Here is my advice to Republicans in the Senate, which is simple: My fellow Americans, act with conscience and do what you privately believe is right. Marching in lockstep with a policy that you know to be tragically wrong is as damaging to your party as it is to our country, and our troops, and our military.

Here is my suggestion to Democratic leaders. Offer a full one- to two-day Camp David summit, with no preconditions.

Include every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who privately agree with Democratic leaders far more than they agree with Bush 43 or Bush 43.5).

Include Senators John Warner and Chuck Hagel (who privately agree with the Democratic leaders far more than they agree with Bush).

Include Jim Baker and every Republican from the Baker Hamilton Group (who agree far more with Democratic leaders than they agree with Bush 43, Bush 43.5 or Bush 44 in waiting).

In this meeting, try to devise a truly bipartisan policy that would save America from endless escalations of the same disastrous mistakes.

Let America be America with three branches of government and two political parties that act with honor, and mutual respect, in pursuit of the national interest.

Let’s end the proposals for Politburo-style meetings. Let’s end the politics of Pravda-like propaganda. Let’s end the conduct of war as the abuse of presidential power in the pursuit of partisan ends. Let’s end the Bush-Cheney-Collins-Snowe-Specter-Warner-Lugar-Sununu-Coleman-supported policy that has done too much damage, for far too long, been voted for too many times, by senators who know it is wrong, but who have lacked the courage of their conviction, from the beginning, until today.