Friday, July 06, 2007

So Freaking Predictable: Clinton Did It Too

Who didn't see this coming? It is so predictable. When President Bush pulls a stunt which goes against every principle he's ever stood for and the entire nation (besides the inevitable right wing koolaid crowd) hoots and hollers in unified derision, the inevitable refrain from the Bush toadies is Clinton did it too.

I just want to scream when I hear some spineless Democratic talking head sputter and stutter over the latest Clinton did it talking point. Clinton did not do anything remotely similar to Bush's pardon of Scooter Libby. If Clinton had actually pardoned a member of his administration who had lied to a grand jury in order to cover the tracks of the Vice President and/or Clinton himself, the Republicans would have formed a lynchmob.

The case which most closely approximates the Libby situation is that of Susan McDougal. McDougal was indeed pardoned by Bill Clinton when he left office, but she spent 18 months in prison before Clinton's pardon for refusing to testify against Clinton. She spent all that time in prison, including 7 weeks in solitary confinement, on civil contempt charges for refusing to testify, and President Clinton had the same power to free her which Bush just used to free Libby. I think it is positively outrageous to compare Bush's self serving commutation of the Libby sentence with what Clinton did in McDougals case. Susan McDougal had the courage to stand for what she believed in, in defiance of a prosecutor gone wild, even as she rotted in jail. Her example has no comparison to Libby, who Bush and Cheney were afraid would start squealing like a stuck pig if he had to spend even one night in jail. Besides which nobody died in the Whitewater deal. Literally hundreds of thousands have died in the war which Libby lied to help get us into.

The most commonly cited pardon these brain dead right wingers bring out is the final day pardon by Clinton of Marc Rich. Can anyone show how Rich's prosecution, incarceration, fining, or otherwise legal harassment would have ever touched on anything relating to a legal issue regarding Bill Clinton? Oh oh oh!!! Don't forget that Rich's legal representative in Washington D.C. was none other than Lewis Libby...

The fact is that nearly ALL Presidencies are closed with a flurry of pardons. What is not a fact is that Clinton, or any other President, kept administration figures out of prison after being found guilty of multiple felonies in the pursuit of covering up the wrongdoing of people higher up the food chain. Wait a minute... there actually is one example of a President using pardon of an administration figure who could have told tales about that President. Digby reminds us all about George Bush the firsts pardon of Cap Weinberger over the Iran Contra affair, in a post appropriately titled Very Close To The Tree.

One really can't help but wonder how queasy it must make a typical right wing administration robot feel to continuously have to fall back on the Clinton did it too meme. Everything about these folks exudes disdain for Clinton. Clinton hatred defines these people. Yet they always find themselves measuring their manifestly wrong headed blunders by the Clinton yardstick. They also are invariably wrong in measuring themselves by the Clinton yardstick, comparing Clinton's apple to Bush's rancid pile of dung and equating both as equal. If Clinton pardoned Rich it's ok that Bush pardoned Libby. If Clinton issued a signing statement congratulating Congress on moving some piece of legislation to his desk, or clarifying legitimately obscure language in the bill until such point as Congress revisits the issue, then it's ok for Bush to issue a signing statement changing the meaning and intent of the bill he is signing. And so on and on and on.

The idea that one would justify their position by looking for the examples provided by someone they consider horrible shows how weak their position is. It actually reminds me of the weak justifications we heard for torturing detainees, and the Iraqi populace of Abu Ghraib. The terrorists treat people they capture even worse. They behead their captives. Well gee... Saddam strung up his prisoners and had rape rooms. We should be able to torture a bit because we're still not as bad as the enemy. Christopher Hitchens wrote a screed in 2005 that echoed precisely this logic. To paraphrase...'why is the west on the defensive over Abu Ghraib when under Saddam it was so much worse?'

Because Mr. Hitchens we SHOULD be better. We MUST be better. I mean... duh.

The right wing gas bags of this nation look at the enemy when they look for the standards they should hold themselves too. Whether it be in real war, or the political civil war they are losing so badly. George Washington didn't look to the example provided by the British with their ghastly prison ships when he decreed that British prisoners would be treated with respect. Remember, most of the people held by the Brits were captured civilians, not wearing a uniform and quite often involved in what today would be defined as terrorism.

Besides which, Republicans would be well served to consider how this is liable to come back to bite them. Can they imagine the shocking depths of depravity this nation will be exposed to if President Hillary Clinton is allowed to argue that Bush did it too!?

Oh that's right... we already are experiencing those shocking depths of depravity. It's just that the administration koolaid drinkers think it's ok because we have President Bush taking us down the drain.

I just know that if I ever hear a future Democratic President justifying some blunder with the admonition that Bush did it too, I'm probably going to retch.

BOTH clinton AND bush made decisions that, given their connections with the two individuals in question, rich and libby, shouldn't have even been considered, and that, to me, is the entire issue in a nutshell... if it's going to be perceived as a compromise of your ethics, why would you want to do it in the first place...?

more than any other elected or appointed public official, the president of the united states should be expected to avoid even the APPEARANCE of impropriety... i don't want to hear reasons, i don't want to be subjected to finely-honed legal arguments, i don't want to hear about executive powers of clemency... clinton's pardon of rich and bush's commutation of libby's sentence both reek of impropriety, and, therefore, neither president should have involved themselves, period...
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