Thursday, October 20, 2005

Finger Wagging, Then And Now

In Wednesday's Daily News, Thomas DeFrank reported the following:
An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."
Now as Josh Marshall notes in this post, "two years ago"---particularly in this case---leaves a lot to fuzziness. On October 7, 2003, Bush made the following comments about the investigation:
I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out.
If we give Bush the benefit of the doubt on the timing and assume (via DeFrank's piece) that he learned of Rove's involvement sometime after he made the above comments, what did the president say from that point on? We do know that---actively and passively---he continued to deny knowing the identity of the leaker for many months. From a press conference on June 10, 2004:
Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.
Of course, we know that subsequently the president moved the goalposts, saying he would fire anyone who "committed a crime." And that stance then morphed into the current total clam-up. But if readers have other examples of Bush professing ignorance of the leaker's name during 2004 or 2005, please post them in the comments section.

To me, Bush's public statements on this are paramount. Yes, what he said to the prosecutors is legally crucial---and as reported in this piece by Murray Waas, Bush stated to prosecutors in June 2004 that Rove had assured him he was not involved with the Plame leak. If both DeFrank's and Waas' reports are true, this president could be in extremely serious trouble. But here's what I really want to know: did this president stare into a camera and lie about this to the American public? My definitive, lasting memory of Bill Clinton is the finger-wagging "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." After the past few years, how insignificant and silly that all seems now, eh? But I still consider that to be outrageous conduct by Clinton and---legalities aside---it was the main reason I favored his impeachment at the time. In each of the articles of impeachment, the following supporting paragraph appeared:
William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
To me, looking into the camera, wagging a finger and lying to the American people embodied the spirit of impeachment as expressed in the above paragraph. If we learn that President Bush's version of the finger wag has been just as deceitful, the relative seriousness of the underlying issues may make the I-word far more of an imperative this time around.

39 Comments:

Anonymous JWC said...

Bill Clinton lied about sex, and in doing so demeaned his presidency. I too was angry at the time, but much less so now.

On the other hand, I can no longer believe anything that comes from Bush or his administration. I am angry in a way I have never been before.. and very very afraid for our country and the future of my grandchildren.

I hope Fitzgerald brings Rove and the Cheny cabal down. I cynically doubt that Bush will fall and am sure that he will pardon the whole bunch. But I still desperately want to believe that our system of laws and justice works... And indictments would go a long way for me to begin to have hope again.

Great Post.

10/19/2005 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to impeach Clinton for lying about a blow job made America the laughing stock of the world.
Immoral? You bet. Endangering national security? Not so much.
Now, no one is laughing. America has transformed herself from puritan to a country which advocates "our way or the highway", torture, degredation and a radical religiosity.
Quite a leap!

10/19/2005 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TCR, do you know the site www.firedoglake.blogspot.com? you should go there and check out the coverage of treasongate, including the comments. It's very interesting.

10/19/2005 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure how an intelligent person can compare the two, if they are honest and not crazied by ideology and rage. Clinton was hounded most of his presidency by well financed radical conservatives (makes as much sense as the Swift Boaters) that freely used the pulpit, we spent millions, and we got a Starr report. Clinton's Presidency was lost when he shook the finger. Yes indeed. But Clinton could generally communicate, lead, and governor; he worked like crazy and hired generally knowledgeable/capable people; most people truly believed he cared about all people no matter race or financial status.

Bush will be remembered for his many PR moments like: "Mission Accomplished", guitar strumming when the coast was being hit, fake-turkey meal in Iraq for Thanksgiving, fake audiences... operative word, fake; perhaps the creation of Karl Rove and a radical religious right base. Bill Maher said it best in his New Rules: "Ready? New Rule: For Halloween, President Bush must go as either a cop or an Indian. This week, Bush dressed up like a construction worker. He's also been a biker, a Navy man, and of course, a cowboy. You know, for a guy who's anti-gay, he spends an awful lot of time dressed like the Village People."

With Republican congress with the likes of Delay, Frist, Santorum and this administration leading us into a war in Iraq on manipulated intelligence, creating an environment that allowed 9/11 and then using it for the PNAC agenda, attacking people with different views, attacking the environment, putting inept people in charge of important positions, no bid contracts, torture, the largest budget deficit, growing government, pay-to-play politics ...is blind allegiance really the right thing to do. This republican party screwed a lot of American people, and people are dying because of it, and our financial future is in jeopardy. Bush is all P.R. and no substance. Close your ears, and just watch their actions. Bush can be called out from his ranch in the middle of the night to go to Washington for one personal affair involving a brain dead person, but when an entire coast is getting hit he continues with his P.R. This administration severely lacks ethics and morals when it comes right down to it.

I'm absolutely sure if anyone is found guilty, Bush jr will pardon them, just like his father's Iran-Contra pardons. Perhaps his father's pardons were to protect his own *ss from his own potential culpability. Clinton pardoning Marc Rich was nothing compared to what Bush Sr did, but the right base didn't care.

When did conservative principles get so slimy, and anti-everything :-( I just think we should call a rat, a rat, regardless of party. But the radical religious right base and right ideologues don't care about laws, right, or wrong, they only care about themselves. For anyone that has principles, it is ironic to watch how Republicans, and that includes Fox, act when it is a Republican's ethical lapse, verses anyone else. Wrong is wrong, whether Republican or Democrat or Libertarian, or Green...

10/19/2005 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem with this type of conservatisim is the notion of: we know best.

true classisim at its best.

10/20/2005 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THR

In today’s world of 24 hr 'news entertainment' its nice to see that some people still understand the value of truth, and the questions that need to be asked to uncover that truth. Having just seen the movie I may be biased, but in today’s world you are one of the closest things we have to a modern day Morrow. Please keep up the posting, its people like you that Hamilton was depending on to keep the press free and open.

RSB

10/20/2005 1:25 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

You can stick it in your ear. You try doing your job for eight goddamn years with Congress and the Washington press corps sticking a knife in your back every time you turned around. And don't think the rest of the world didn't know it.

Ask yourself who is more respected in other countries, Bill Clinton or that moron in the White House? Ask yourself who is more respected in this country?

Do you remember Mr. E-I-O, the most crooked senator in American history, Alphonse D'Amato, investigated a sitting president while you watched and had a good time like the rest of the f**king stupid Republicans?

That someone could bring suit against a sitting president for sexual harrassment was a disgrace. And I didn't forget for one minute that Richard Mellon Scaife financed the whole operation.

I bet it was all a big f**king joke to everybody on Wall Street.

I bet you thought it was hilarious when the Republicans funded a special audit of the poor people who claimed the earned income tax. Ha,ha - let's make them take a day off from work to come down to the IRS and justify their existence.

Meantime, the pigs on Wall Street were running their phony NASDQ stock swindle. Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns, every last one of them knew they were selling junk.

Why do you think that none of these investigations are ever completed? Because everyone is afraid to tell the American public that they were swindled and none of the slobs want to go to jail. It's been four years since the DOJ opened the Enron case. What do you think is taking them so long?

Bill Clinton would not have spent six months during a war to convince Americans to use their social security money to buy into a house of cards.

The Republicans have dismantled the stock market like they have dismantled every other institution in this country. Don't want to pay taxes? Wreck the IRS.

So, you favored impeachment. If I remember correctly, you favored this idiotic war. Maybe it is time you questioned your judgment.

You probably believe in fairy tales and Osama bin Laden. Me, I'm going with Prince Bandar, friend of the Bushes. He wasn't sent packing for nothing.

The Long Island Railroad engineers talk openly about Americans being behind 9/11 and they don't think it was the conductors.

I want Bush, Cheny, Rove, the whole lot of them to sit there for the next three years so everyone in the world can watch the stupid Republicans wreck this country.

10/20/2005 5:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's not the sex... it's the lie."

"It's not the treason... it's the lie..."

Oh-oh...

Maybe treason is serious... especially if (when?) an actual death of an intelligence asset due to the "it's just politics" leak of the idenity of a CIA undercover agent comes to light...

10/20/2005 8:19 AM  
Blogger Lifetime Fiscal Conservative said...

Sorry, TCR, but you lost me when you said "I favored his impeachment at the time". You quote a paragraph from the articles of impeachment rather than the Constitution. As a refresher:

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

It is pretty obvious to me that nothing he was convicted of endangered the country in any way, shape, or form. In fact, he was only accused of lying about something that while immoral is actually completely legal.

It became obvious to me that Ken Starr threw away his objectivity and became a partisan hack intent on bagging Clinton when his hand-picked ethics advisor resigned stating that Starr had become an advocate for impeachment. You can read his full
letter of resignation here.

I didn't like what Clinton did at all, but anybody who agreed with impeachment at the time was driven by personal feelings, and not by indignation over real harm done to the country.

10/20/2005 11:26 AM  
Blogger Roy said...

I can honestly say that while it was wrong for Clinton to lie about his BJ, he shouuld not have been impeached for it. That being said, it happened and Buh should be held to the same standard. But, there seems to be a little too much glorifying his administration.
Someone wrote: "creating an environment that allowed 9/11 and then using it for the PNAC agenda"
Uh the environment was created years before Bush, let us not forget about previous attacks and the years of planning these guys did.

Second people are attacking Bush for not moving fast enough on Enron, the implication is that Enron is Bushes problem. Call me crazy but I am willing to bet that they were cooking the books while Clinton was President as well. They need to be prosecuted but lets not act as if this country was some sort of paradise that was perfect under Clinton. This country has had crooked businesses and business people since its founding, likewise Presidents have lied and the bureaucracies (fbi, cia, etc...) have placed their interests ahead of this countries for way too long. This is not new.

10/20/2005 12:20 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Folks, this has been going since the first stirrings of government centuries ago. Worry about something where you can effectuate a change.

10/20/2005 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that thirdeye got through a paragraph without mentioning Israel?

10/20/2005 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Most Important Criminal Case in American History

"We know, however, based upon what we have read and seen and heard that someone created fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and used them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq. And when a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts, a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife."

10/20/2005 4:39 PM  
Blogger SherAn said...

Why does anyone on this thread believe it's okay to personally attack TCR for stating his personal views? Can you not debate the facts without self-righteous attacks?

I was personally offended that Clinton lied, but I was also offended that the "vast rightwing conspiracists" spent more than eight years going after him the way they did. Which is the greater crime and which did greater harm to the country?

Frankly, I find the conduct of the current administration unconscionable, egregious, and amoral. What has it done for the betterment of this country? It seems to me that every single item on its agenda, past and present, was/is geared to benefit a privileged minority to the detriment of the vast majority of our citizens.

When Congress advances bills that seek to cut Medicaid, food stamps, low-income housing while enacting additional tax cuts for the multi-nationals and the upper 5 percent, we have evidence that this country has lost its moral compass.

Whether they are Dems, Independents, or GOPers, let's sweep out the trash -- now. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Frist, Libby, Rove, DeLay, Pombo, Ney, Burns, Hastert, (Pat) Roberts, (William) Jefferson, and all the rest of them. Local, state, and federal -- we need to get rid of all of them. It's called a do-over.

Clinton was vilified for a knob job. Who's going to hold Bush accountable for jeopardizing the security of these United States?

And please, spare me the details of how that rogue Guiliani would make such a great president. Or McCain, for that matter.

We need a do-over. New blood. Both parties.

10/20/2005 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here!

10/20/2005 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Antonie said...

I will never understand how Clinton, who is a smart person, could be so stupid when it came to his affairs with women. Nevertheless, I still think it was a matter to be discussed between him and Hillary, not the entire world.

As to Bush not commenting on the Valerie Plame leak, it is possible that he's just trying to protect Rove knowing how loyal he is to his close circle. If it weren't for that character trait, I would have to think that that he's trying to make the buck stop with Rove, but that more people were involved, maybe even himself.

10/20/2005 7:59 PM  
Anonymous KevinNYC said...

Ken Starr never had any objectivity. Remember he was put on the job by Jesse Helms and Judge Sentell and Ted Olson when the first independent prosecutor, the Republican Fiske, was being too professional and was going to wrap up the Whitewate case in just 6 months with no charges against the Clintons.

Starr was never objective. Remember he filed a friend of the court brief for Paula Jones, a brief, he conveniently didn't tell Janet Reno about when he asked to put on the Lewinsky matter. Starr was the equivalent of terrorist sleeper cell. He was always a hard right partisan, but he kept it quiet until the right moment. Remember that he wanted to be on the Supreme Court before he was given this job. He filled his staff with extreme partisans. The professionals were disgusted by it.

How Starr got the job
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/campfin/stories/op093097.htm

Judge Sentelle's panel, you'll recall, dismissed the original Whitewater counsel, Robert Fiske, and appointed Kenneth Starr. Sentelle thought the fact that Reno had picked Fiske raised the appearance of conflict of interest.

But appearances didn't seem to bother Judge Sentelle when he lunched with Sens. Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, both North Carolina Republicans, shortly before he replaced Fiske. The same Sen. Faircloth had accused Fiske of a "cover-up." Five past presidents of the American Bar Association issued a statement saying the meeting was "unfortunate, to say the least" and gave rise "to the appearance of impropriety."

"Sentelle has polluted the waters," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and a fierce critic of both parties' 1996 fund-raising tactics. "The notion of the independent counsel is to depoliticize the process, and the Republicans in Congress want to turn it into a political process."

10/21/2005 2:36 AM  
Blogger 277fia said...

Roy, The president has a particular obligaton to ensure that the Enron investigation is thorough and timely.

He spent six months encouraging Americans to invest in the stock market yet the one scandal that everyone remembers is still an open question.

If he wants to restore worldwide
investor confidence in the US stock market which is part of his job as president, George Bush has to demonstrate that the investigation of a very Texas company is scrupulous and aboveboard.

We already know for certain that Enron's senior management lacked integrity.

President Clinton's administration assisted Enron's international development projects. As a nation, we have an obligation to assure
the world that Enron conducted its business fairly.

James Baker was a $2m a year consultant to Enron, beginning in 1993. He has represented the Bush administration and this country in both an official and unofficial capacity. We should have a clear understanding about his role at Enron.

Jon Corzine was chairman of Goldman Sachs from about 1991 to 1999. At one point, GS owned 20% of Enron. Corzine refused to disclose his financial holdings when he ran for the Senate.

Wendy Gramm was an Enron director and she is married to a former US senator from Texas.

Frank Wizner, another director, was formerly with the CIA.

Two Texas companies, Enron and Reliant, committed financial sabotage against Californians as soon as George Bush was elected. Senior management's role has never been disclosed.

Enron went under at the end of November 2001 which meant that almost a full year of operations was never disclosed to the public.

The shareholders of Enron's lenders are entitled to know the crcumstances under which billions of dollars were loaned to Ernon when it was clearly in financial trouble.

A couple of years ago, I searched the archives of the Wall Street Journal and mapped everywhere where Enron had operations and did not have operations.

I was surprised to learn that Enron had been operating on Long Island since at least 1992. At that time, Alpohnse D'Amato, who
I know lacks integrity, was my senator.

Charles Gargano, NY's Boss Tweed for the 21st century, was the ambassador to Trinidad-Tobago between 1988 and June 1991. Gargano is unscrupulous and has ties to organized crime that extend back to at least the '70s.

According to the Trinidad energy website, there was a "bizarre" industrial accident in June 1991
which caused a major problem with a gas field. Subsequently, in
2002, Enron gained the rights to Trinidad's gas fields from the company that had previously operated them.

If there was link between that bizarre accident and Gargano, I want to know about it. I think we can all agree that we, as Americans, do not want to be known as thugs by the rest of the world.

Four years is more than adequate time to conduct an investigation of Enron. I am sure that information was forthcoming by any number of injured parties.

Calling President George W. Bush.

10/21/2005 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're being a little naive. Can you ever imagine a public figure in such a position saying, "oh yeah, I did it" when asked such a question? Duh. I don't know why reporters even bother to ask except that they enjoy putting people on the spot. Politicians lie all the time in press conferences, I would have a low opinion of anyone who laid out his cards all the time. This is why I look at our officials' actions, not their words - what are the policies they enact?

I have to admit my own naivete in this matter, though. I would not be shocked at anything this administration did for money, I recognized long ago that they will do absolutely anything. And they care so little about good results that they will put any incompetent fool into important positions. But I really was shocked to learn that they are willing to possibly compromise national security just for political payback. I am very frightened for this country.

As for Bush's part in it, sadly, I can easily believe that he had nothing to do with this, he seems to be out of the loop on many things, especially when it comes to Cheney.

10/21/2005 12:47 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

Correction: Enron got the Trinidad gas rights in 1992.

Anon, My impression of the president is that he probably, at heart, is a decent enough man but he has never had to make any tough calls.

This might sound strange but I wondered, at the time, if he was afraid to come to NYC after 9/11 because he thought NYers would blame him.

10/21/2005 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clinton lied about sex like any other guy. big damned deal. it was consensual and they are both adults and thus it's not a national issue. the real travesty there is the false puritan outrage over sex in general as a MORAL issue.

well, that's the kind of MORALITY that has over 2000 of our military dead and countless iraqis, and has twisted the laws of human DECENCY into a power grab.

under bush and the neocons who put him there we have become truely evil.

bush belongs before the world court, and a trashed constitution and deaths of thousands due to the corruption of our government demands impeachments a hell of a lot louder than some damned blue dress saved by a tool.

feral

10/21/2005 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How moral have the republicans become when torture is concered to be legal under our constitution?

What we need is a Nürnberg trial for the cabal that is our socalled goverment.

Will we ever see this gang held accountable? Of cause not republicans cannot lie or do wrong by definition as they are christians, in contrast to those nonbelievers, democrats.

Future for our country? NONE

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