A crook in the White House
Tue Jul 3, 2007 12:46

A crook in the White House
by margieburns on Mon 02 Jul 2007 09:51 PM EDT | Permanent Link

The total commutation of Libby’s sentence should put an end to any questions, if any questions remain, as to whether the Bush-Cheney cabal is completely crooked.

Briefly: the published statement for public consumption that the president found Libby’s sentence “excessive” is transparently false. If he had merely found the sentence excessive, he could have commuted it PARTLY. Two and a half years could have been reduced to two, or to one and a half, or to one year. It could have been drastically commuted to six months, or to three months.

That did not happen. Instead, George Walker Bush elevated smarmy propagandists like Byron York over federal judges like U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton. He elevated Charles Krauthammer over three U.S. Circuit Court Judges – appointed by Reagan, Bush senior, and Clinton. (Not that Krauthammer’s first reaction after Libby was indicted was to defend Libby. Au contraire: Krauthammer took the line, on ABC’s Inside Washington, that Libby’s actions were the work of one man, namely Libby. Neocon loyalty at work – until the echo chamber went to work, pulling Krauthammer in line.) Bush elevated rightwing talk show hosts, the National Review – which has published easily 150 articles attacking the CIA leak investigation -- Fox television and PNAC over the U.S. justice system.

Typical for him, that.

We won’t finish paying for the wholesale erosion of the justice system for a while. And there is scant consolation that Bush will also pay. Nobody in his right mind thinks that Mr. Libby is the object of widespread public adulation. At the moment, even the large media outlets are claiming merely that Libby’s getting off will please the president’s “base” – a term used far more often than it is defined. Personally I would take even that claim with a grain of salt. If the president’s “base,” as that term is generally used, includes devout Christians and/or social conservatives, neither of those groups is going to be thrilled to see Libby relieved of all discipline. For one thing, neither group was ever all that sold on Libby, surmising accurately that Libby was never going to go to the mat for them either.

The hurried and abject quality of the commutation does suggest pressures on the president. But some of the easy hypotheses may be too easy. 1) As already suggested, I do not necessarily buy that the “base” demanded and got Libby’s walking. 2) Influenced at this stage by the excellent writing of Elizabeth de la Vega on this topic, I also don’t believe that Libby could easily have helped mount a court case against Bush et al.

However, I do believe that information in Libby’s possession would amount to evidence for impeachment. And it was surely useful for Bush to puncture a large and visible impeachment threat virtually right in front of Vladimir Putin’s eyes. And it would undoubtedly lead to equally damning information in the possession of other administration personnel.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, a good prosecutor with a good team, compared the defendant’s actions, much earlier, to throwing sand in the umpire’s face. Now we’ve got the White House doing the same, and doing it openly, and doing it at an even higher level and on a larger scale.

On a purely local level, I’m glad I’m getting out of town for the Fourth. When I first moved to the DC area, I was childless and had no dependents, and it was the Cold War era; the joke that a good license-plate motto for DC would be “DC: motto: No Radiaiton Sickness” seemed funny.

Times have changed.

Speaking of radiation, we’re suffering some lack of adequate reporting, to put it nicely, on Bush’s feeble negotiations with Putin. Suffice it to say that “missile shield” means “missiles.” There is no gigantic super-plastic ‘shield’ going up, to protect us from missiles. “Missile defense,” to these guys, always means more missiles. So the temporary resolution to bring Putin on board with more US missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland – something Putin understandably does not want – is to allow, or help, Putin to base a corresponding expansion of Russian missile power in the Federation countries of the former Soviet Union. It’s much along the lines of the ‘compromise’ that allows Libby to avoid all prison time, placating an entrenched and powerful interest group that touts itself as representing some kind of groundswell.

Bush didn't please the 'base.' He pleased just enough of the entrenched no-talents in rightwing media outlets and corporate media outlets to buy himself a little more time, trying desperately to stave off wider discussion about impeachment. Meanwhile, that destructively early 2008 primary season sucks all the oxygen out of political discussion on the topics we need most to be talking about.
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