One of the more popular of my blog entries is “What Has Bush Done Right?” from 2004. I spent the entire slog through Bush’s second term asking myself that question, and honestly never really came up with a good answer. Bush was a bad leader, an idealogue, and is, I believe, directly responsible for a lot of the mess we’re in now.
However, an article yesterday gave me a sliver – an extremely tiny sliver – of respect for the man: “Aides Say No Pardon for Libby Irked Cheney (New York Times).
Dick Cheney spent his final days as vice president making a furious last-ditch effort to secure a pardon for his onetime chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., leaving him at odds with former President George W. Bush on a matter of personal loyalty as the two moved on to private life, according to several former officials.
The officials said Tuesday that Mr. Cheney’s lobbying campaign on behalf of Mr. Libby was far more intense than previously known, with the vice president bringing it up in countless one-on-one conversations with the president. They said Mr. Bush was unyielding to the end, already frustrated by a deluge of last-minute pardon requests from other quarters.
For a quick reminder, here’s what “Scooter” Libby was convicted of:
Mr. Libby was convicted of four felony counts in March 2007 for obstruction, perjury and lying to investigators looking into the leak of Valerie Wilson’s employment with the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence, wiping out the 30-month prison term imposed by a judge.
Since Bush removed the prison time, this isn’t a big win for him, but I think everybody assumed that Libby would get a pardon.
Cheney and others think Libby was railroaded, that he was made a scapegoat. But Libby’s case exemplifies the problem of the Bush Administration, and Cheney in particular: there was no respect for the rule of law. Libby was tried, found guilty, and sentenced using the laws that Bush and Cheney promised to uphold. Libby broke the law, and his actions endangered America’s safety. But Cheney thinks laws apply only when they’re convenient.
The article goes on to quote insiders who tone down the idea that Bush and Cheney are somehow fueding over this, but then wraps up with what I think is a good insight:
Kenneth L. Adelman, another Bush supporter turned critic who has called for a pardon for Mr. Libby, said he believed “Bush got it in his head that he did not want to leave office like Clinton did,” a reference to the disputed pardons that President Bill Clinton issued in his final hours.
For eight years, Bush and the Republicans did so much to distance themselves from Clinton, when they never needed to. I think Bill’s ghost hung over them at all times, which is a nice image.
So it’s entirely possible that Bush did something right without meaning to. I’ll take it.
Goodbye Dubya, and an especially hearty goodbye to perpetually Cranky (and Paranoid?) Cheney. May you never be heard from again, unless it’s in the context of legal action against you.