Wednesday, March 07, 2007

White House Damaged by Libby Verdict

In Bush's first term, the media and Congress did very little to hold the president accountable. Six years later, there is much to answer for. It appears to me that the Libby trial was only the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, it's interesting to hear what a Republican like David Gergen has to say; I don't always agree with him but, more so than other Republicans, he's a reasonable straight-shooter. Here's what what Gergen had to say on Larry King last night:
"Perhaps [defense attorney] Ted Wells never even knew why Scooter Libby didn't want to go on the stand. But clearly, there's something behind this case," Gergen, a former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, told CNN's "Larry King Live."

"Why would Scooter Libby lie, as the jury determined? Why would he not take the stand? Why would the vice president not take the stand? There's clearly something they do not wish to discuss. And I don't know what that is."


Well, Congress needs to find out. As a co-equal branch of government, it is their right and their obligation to find out why a top administration official lied and obstructed justice. Our government (which includes Congress) has still not found out why such a phony case for war was made in the first place, who was responsible for that case and so on. It's also important to remember that Scooter Libby was part of the White House Iraq Group whose special assignment, beginning in the summer of 2002, was to sell the war in Iraq and we know now that sales job involved outright lies. Some paint a sympathetic portrait of Scooter Libby but he was no innocent; he knew what he was doing. It's also important for Congress to find out if a deal was made for a pardon; that may explain why Cheney and Libby were not called to testify. The president has a right to pardon whoever he wants but he does not have a right to obstruct justice or to make deals that essentially buy off a witness. A cloud indeed hangs over the White House.

David Gergen said one more thing that actually seemed odd:

Gergen also said he expected political fallout from the verdict.

"This is an administration that has been mostly free of scandal over the last six years and now they have the taint that they cannot erase," he said. "It has damaged this White House, and I think it's damaged the Republican prospects for 2008 in taking the White House and keeping it."


Gergen is right in a sense that the current administration has been relatively free of perceived scandal but only in the sense that if one doesn't look closely when scandals happen or ignores scandals when they happen or even suppresses them, then the taint is minimized and that is largely what has happened for six years. It should be noted that the lying about the case for war in Iraq happened nearly five years ago; the initial crime of outing a CIA covert operative happened nearly four years ago. In Washington, justice grinds very slowly these days and very conveniently for presidents seeking a second term.

Both political parties are understandably wary of scandal fatigue and perhaps there's something to be said for that but we have a broken government riddled with corruption, cronyism and incompetence. It needs to be fixed; and it can't be fixed if we all get tired of the noise that comes from charges, countercharges, phony posturing by people such as those on cable news or at The Washington Post or the RNC, and of course the endless denials from places like the White House press room. Bush's Department of Justice is increasingly so politicized that it's incapable of investigating even garden variety problems within the administration to any extent.

It's an old problem. Who polices the police? Who in government makes sure the government is honest? If the Department of Justice is rigged to look the other way, that leaves Congress. If Congress won't do its job (as it refused to do under Republicans for six years), that leaves the media. If the media is more worried about access and getting along with conventional wisdom, that leaves the people. If the people aren't paying attention, then... where are we? Ultimately, the American people need to pay attention. It's our lives and our government. And there are consequences. On any day of the week, if one is paying attention, there are consequences all the way from New Orleans to Baghdad.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

You are so very right about the need for people all along the line to pay attention and be involved. That hasn't been the case, and the mess this counry's in stands as harsh testimony about how and why broad alienation and distraction inevitably come back to hurt us all.

"It's also important for Congress to find out if a deal was made for a pardon."

Good luck with that. Six years after the fact, we can't even find out who in the energy industry Dick Cheney met with for his so-called energy task force, much less why and anything about what was said.

8:51 PM  

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