As reported in Newsday, the Bush Administration has already started shopping the notion of Bush pardoning Lewis “Scooter” Libby. The advantages to Bush are obvious:
Bush has powerful incentives to pardon Libby, however. They range from rewarding past loyalty to ending the awkward revelations emerging from pretrial motions, a flow that could worsen in his trial next year.
Although the Newsday article frames the discussion as though a Libby pardon is still just one possibility under consideration, one gets the distinct impression this is a done deal — with the only issue remaining one of timing. Will Bush act preemptively, by granting an early pardon before Libby even goes to trial, or, instead, follow his father’s example by waiting until the very last day of his administration to grant whatever pardons are needed to keep the family’s dirty laundry well hidden?
Newsday, quoting an attorney with presumed inside information, suggests that the timing of the pardon may depend on the outcome of this year’s congressional elections:
If Republicans retain control of Congress, Bush could act swiftly. But if Democrats win control of the House or Senate, Bush might wait, and use Libby’s trial as an excuse not to cooperate with any congressional investigations into the leak.
I doubt this. In fact, I think it’s a virtual cinch that Bush will pardon Libby well before the start of any trial, regardless of what happens in the midterm elections. This best reflects his long standing pattern; when faced with any sort of scandal, Bush always stonewalls every step of the way.
– Are there politically embarrassing aspects to Cheney’s Big Oil hugging energy task force? No problem, just steadfastly refuse to release any pertinent information; go all the way to the Supreme Court if you have to.
– Are there papers from the Reagan Administration due to be made public that could cast a bad light on dear old Dad (and members of junior’s administration)? Hey, don’t sweat the small stuff; just ignore the law.
– Are Lawsuits being filed that might prove that Bush, or at least the people around Bush, have authorized the torture of prisoners? It’s good to be the king: Just get those silly lawsuits thrown out of court based upon the need to preserve the secrecy of national security information.
– You say Bush & Co. told a pot full of lies that landed this country in a God forsaken war? So what’s the big problemo? You still have Pat Roberts’s phone number, right?
– Karl Rove helped to out a CIA agent for political reasons? Oh well, you know what to do. Stonewall, stonewall and then stonewall some more. Don’t give an inch — not even one lousy millimeter.
So why would Bush want to change a winning routine now?
My guess is that Bush will pardon Libby soon after the midterm elections. And if a Democratic Congress then decides to hold hearings, the administration will simply refuse to cooperate, citing national security and executive privilege.
If Congress issues subpoenas, Bush will refuse to honor them. Instead, he’ll go on a media blitz, with plenty of help from his dependable toadies in the pundit elite, accusing the Democrats of playing politics with national security. At least a few moderate Democrats will then dutifully pee in their pants and refuse to vote in favor of a contempt of Congress resolution. So-called moderate Republicans will go on camera to demand that the administration be forthright: “No cover-ups will be tolerated,” they’ll scream. But when the crucial votes come, somehow they’ll find a way to do the “right thing” for good old President George W.
And so it will continue until a new season of American Idol comes along and knocks the whole controversy off of page 11 for good.