Saturday, July 07, 2007

You Got Punk'd, America

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Well, he's gone and done it, just like I expected. This past week, King George granted a boon to one of his loyal henchmen when he let I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby out of his jail sentence.

It shouldn't have come as a complete surprise. As my friend Phoebe pointed out, President Bush did say, when the Plamegate scandal broke, "If [a] person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." Scooter broke the law, and Dubbya sure is taking care of him.

To be completely accurate, Dubbya let the jury's finding of guilt stand, along with the $250,000 fine. What he overruled was the sentence which he characterized as "excessive," even though the sentence was within the federal sentencing guidelines.

Now if Dubbya wants to make a case that those guidelines are too harsh, he'll get no argument from me. But apparently they're too harsh only if you're a Bush crony.

See, it appears that Republicans, despite all their tough guy talk, are some kind of delicate flowers who just can't take it when things get rough. I base this in part on the sentiments expressed by people who took exception to my last column on Scooter because -- oh, the horror! -- I called poor Mr. Libby names! These people apparently have no trouble with people saying harsh things about Democrats, such as calling John Edwards a "faggot" or referring to Hillary Clinton as "Hitlery."

You never hear these Guardians of Decency speaking out against that sort of thing. Therefore, one can only assume that they believe Democrats are tougher and can take more abuse. Q.E.D.

I mean, think about it. Martha Stewart was convicted of pretty much the same thing Scooter was -- lying to investigators -- and she did her time. And Martha took it like a man, by golly, including all the cruel jokes from satirists and late-night television hosts. And the Bushistas never said a mumblin' word about that.

Didn't see all the Agony Aunts rushing to defend "poor Martha" then.

As for Marc Rich, whose pardon by Bill Clinton is being faithfully trotted out as a talking point by the usual gang of right wingnut talking heads, let's not forget that the Republican Congress appointed not one, but two prosecutors to investigate that action. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pluto) asserted, presumably with a straight face, that his legal research showed that Clinton could be impeached again for the Rich pardon even after he left office.

Think we'll see the Republicans calling for investigations of this? If so, would you like to buy a golf course? I'll sell you Pinehurst No. 2, cheap. (I'd offer the Brooklyn Bridge, but it's already under contract to a guy who thinks Fox News is actually "Fair and Balanced.")

Oh, and Rich's attorney at the time? Scooter Libby. The ironies just mount up.

Bush may be thinking, hey, what have I got to lose? The 28 percent or so of Americans polled who still support him -- aka the Bush Cult -- would continue to do so even if their dear leader killed and devoured a litter of kittens raw on live television from the Rose Garden.

As long as his Wacky Iraqi Adventure continues, he's never going to get the other 72 percent back. It used to be he could drum up support by threatening another impending terrorist attack, but that's starting to wear thin, and if there actually was another 9/11 level strike on our shores, someone would eventually point out that "hey, we haven't had a terrorist attack on our soil since we decided to ignore the Constitution" was about the last "accomplishment" the Bushistas had to point to.

So, with no real way to go any lower in the polls, Dubbya decided to take steps to ensure the silence of one guy who could roll over on him and Darth Cheney.

Think about it. If Bush pardoned Scooter, he'd lose the protection of the Fifth Amendment, and he could be compelled to talk about what went on in the Dark Tower -- sorry, the White House. If Scooter went to prison, there'd be the risk he could decide to talk willingly in hopes of getting clemency.

The fine will no doubt be paid by rich Republican supporters who've been filling the coffers of Libby's defense fund. And the appeals go on, so Libby can still take the Fifth.

Scooter's being paid to keep quiet. And who's going to do anything about it? The Democrats? Please. We'll hear a few indignant squeals, then they'll move on for fear of being thought partisan.

You got punk'd, America. How does it feel?


Anonymous said...

So are you saying that Libby blackmailed Cheney into getting Bush to commute his sentence?

Could it be that Libby told Cheney that if he didn't walk free, he would make a deal with the prosecutor to get his sentence reduced by fingering Cheney? I recall right up to the trial his lawyer claimed they'd mount a vigorous defense defense and call Cheney as a witness, but then suddenly during the trial - they didn't call Cheney, they didn't even try very hard to defend Libby.

And then right before Libby was about to go to jail, before he said "Wait, Mr. prosecutor, I will co-operate now if you help me and tell you about Cheney" - here comes the get-out-of-jail free card.

Is that what he needed to get a pardon from Bush? The ability to tell a prosecutor something that will get Cheney put in jail?

JD Rhoades said...

Anon: you make the case as persuasively as I could. Except I think the scenario was more likely that, at some point after Cheney was subpoenaed, someone in the White House came to Libby and said, "you don't have to call Cheney, becuase whatever the jury decides, we'll look after you."

I'd like to know where the money came from for Scooter to pay his 250K fine within three days.