Libby’s Trial May Finish Bush’s Second Term
When Irv Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s indictment came out on Friday, the stage was set for political theatre that the US hasn’t seen since Ollie North appeared before Congress in a Marine uniform. As a criminal case, it is a rather boring issue revolving around who remembers what and how. As a political issue, the charges could put the administration’s entire Iraq policy on trial as the nation gears up for the 2006 mid-term elections. If the case does go to trial, Mr. Bush’s status as a lame duck president will be written in stone.
The White House has already begun its counter-attack. The nomination of Samuel Alito, leaked to the press in time for the morning news and nonsense programs, to the Supreme Court will get the reactionary right juiced up for a fight between them and a Democratic Party that doesn’t have the votes to win. As Grenada proved, picking easy fights make a president look good. There will be more misdirection, and much of it will succeed because the interval between the indictment and jury selection is not very TV-worthy.
The president summed up the indictment as both “sad” and “serious.” For once, this journal agrees wholeheartedly with Mr. Bush. When officials whose duty it is to uphold even the dumbest of laws and to serve the Republic fail, there is no reason for the opposition to cheer. Mourning is appropriate. Moreover, there is nothing more serious than taking a nation to war, and if the Plamegate affair turns out to prove that America went to war with Iraq based on “fixed” intelligence, the incident rises to the Nuremberg standard of a crime against peace, if not humanity. Mourning is even more appropriate here. Not even the amusement derived from a grown man named “Scooter” facing 30 years for perjury can make up for that.
Iraq has been the defining issue of the Bush administration, and there is but one more possible incident that can go Mr. Bush’s way – December’s parliamentary elections. If these result in a popular government for which the people and security forces will fight, it will be a vindication of all Mr. Bush has said and done. It will also be the biggest surprise since Truman beat Dewey. After December, every bomb explosion in Baghdad, every extended tour of duty, every dead American kid will attest to the failure of Iraqization. And there will be 10 months to go before the elections in the US.
The risk for the White House is that the short-term distractions of Supreme Court nominations won’t last long-term. The continued loss of lives in Iraq, the lack of an exit strategy and the Libby trial reminding everyone that the war was fought on the basis of weapons of mass destruction will wear on the GOP. The Busheviks will try to turn the case into a trial of Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife's influence in getting him sent to Niger, but it won't work. Every time the argument gains traction, it will get derailed by the simple question, "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" The ambassador could be as crooked as San Francisco's Lombard Street, but it won't matter. "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?"
Ex post facto justifications for the war will no longer carry the day – if the evidence even appears to show that the neo-cons lied America into a war that hasn’t been won after three years, Mr. Bush will lose his hold on Congress. He isn’t a coalition builder, and that spells lame duck starting from the first words of prosecutor’s opening statement. And again, "where are the weapons of mass destruction?"
© Copyright 2005 by The Kensington Review, J. Myhre, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent.
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