The Lewis Libby indictment is an overdue rein on the cowboys of the Bush administration. Finally, some accountability is demanded. Finally, the kneecapping suffered by anyone who publicly questions this White House is being revealed. Finally, a little slice of karma has plopped on the administration’s plate.
But let’s be realistic and face the hard fact that this is probably as far as legal justice will go. Not only is the underlying crime of outing a covert CIA agent swept under the rug, but what lies at the heart of Libby’s criminal activities – an illegal war foisted on innocents through unprecedented, executive-branch con artistry – will likely go uninvestigated till George Bush and Dick Cheney are snug in retirement. Only historians will be left to unravel the monumental scamming allowed to proceed unimpeded and unpunished.
That’s the downside, and perhaps the only justice ever dished out to Dick and George will materialize in the form of their reincarnation as Iraqi children subjected to Air Force cluster bombs.
There is, however, an upside. Naturally the Washington network of elitist schmoozers is in full responsible-civics mode, jumping at every on-air opportunity to declare that it’s a dark day for America when a presidency is crippled by the fallout of Libby-like criminality. Their boo-hooing may be entertaining, but nothing could be further from the truth. Some thing, or some body, was needed to neutralize this reckless White House before it did even more harm to the nation and the world. Its crippled footing is the best political footing of all possible worlds.
I dropped in on local talk radio over the weekend to hear if the callers, the most loyal of administration loyalists, were still sporting blinders. After 30 minutes it was clear they were. The airwaves were full of everything from one caller’s report on the horrible health dangers of diet soda to another caller’s astonishing discovery of sparse automobile traffic at 5AM – but not a peep about Bush, Cheney, Libby & Co. So I called in to rattle their cages, reminding them that had Bill Clinton lied his way into an illegal war they would have lynched him at the end of his own rope, and quite deservedly. That didn’t sit well. The loyalists soon began calling to denounce the deranged, hate-filled, liberal Bush-basher who dared question their main man.
So the radical base is as solid as ever. No matter. George W. Bush could stand naked in Lafayette Park enticing little boys with Halloween Milk Duds and the talk-radio crowd would say it only proves his love for children. But at long last, the country at large has had enough, if opinion polls – which now put his approval rating at an abysmal 39 percent – are to be believed.
The CIA leak blow-up, the surpassing of 2000 American deaths in Iraq, the amateurism of natural disaster relief, the Harriet Miers fiasco, ballooning deficits, those soaring oil company profits courtesy GOP policies and the criminal troubles of both Republican congressional leaders have depleted the right’s credibility and taken an irreversible toll. The heavy odds are now that this administration’s and the hard right’s well-laid plans to further advance a Darth Vaderian empire and Gilded Age Redux are, at best, lightly browned toast for the next three years.
The weakened White House promotes a liberal-moderate coalition in Congress, one now emboldened enough – or so says the writing on the wall – to say enough is enough. True, the administration’s boss and underboss (you decide which is which) and most of their caporegimes likely will evade Lewis Libby’s woes, but they’ve created others of their own.