Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Written on the Fourth of July

In celebration of the 231st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, The Home Office is printing the letter that was sent today to Senators Mikulski and Cardin, and House Majority Leader Hoyer.

Dear -----,

President Bush’s pardon of Scooter Libby shows his complete disregard for the responsibilities of the presidency, but also a lack of common sense. Anyone elected by his razor-thin margins should be painfully aware of the need to reach out to ensure he is the president of all the people, not just those who got him the job.

I suspect Scooter Libby is a fall guy. Either his lawyers declined to call Vice President Cheney as a witness in the hope that the president would express some form of clemency, or the deal had already been brokered. Libby isn’t the problem here; he’s the symptom.

George W. Bush has shown a complete disregard for mercy or clemency for many years, extending back to his tenure as governor of Texas. No execution deserved a stay under his rule. He has often expressed an opinion that all sentences should be carried out in full, and the will of a jury should never be overturned. To make a complete change of direction is one thing; to start with a personal associate is disingenuous and unconscionable.

President Bush and his supporters in and out of government often refer to the “unitary executive,” and claim it as a Constitutional principle. Anyone with more than a cursory knowledge of the Constitution’s origins knows better. The Founding Fathers had learned from the failure of the Articles of Confederation that a strong executive was necessary to hold together factions and broker compromise. Their fresh memories of living under a king, and the potential for abuse inherent in unchecked power, led them to fill the Constitution with limitations on executive power and privilege.

There is no question a president does not have many of the powers the office’s current inhabitant has claimed for himself; or, even worse, those claimed by Vice President Cheney. Congress alone has the power to rein in such abuses, and for too long has allowed executive ambition to remain unfettered. Please take this opportunity to say, “No more.” Mr. Bush is either president to all of us, or to none of us. Surely he must answer to all of us, and Congress is the only instrument the people have to exercise their will, outside of an election. Please do not fail us.


Anonymous said...

While I agree in general with your comments, let's not forget that Libby isn't yet pardoned. He only had his jail sentence commuted.

Bill Clinton pardoned federal fugitives, murderers, etc. under his reign. But there was no great outcry over that. The fact that Bill and Hillary would even comment on the Bush action on Libby is hypocritical.

Bush's real "crime" here is once again doing things without any regard for how his office will appear to the American people. And yes, he has repeatedly said that he won't tolerate criminal behaviour in his administration. Then again so did Clinton.

2nd Amendment Correspondent

The Home Office said...

Thanks for the comment. I agree up to a point; for Clinton to make any disparaging comments about anyone's pardons/commutations leaves his glass house in considerable peril.

To me, the salient difference is that Clinton never pardoned anyone inside the Administration, for acts committed as part of the Administration. Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence is not only rank hypocrisy based on his previous record, it's akin to Nixon pardoning the Watergate conspirators. It tells everyone still facing heat (Gonzalez, Goodling, etc.) to stonewall, lie, do whatever, and Bush will take care of you.

I remember there was quite an outcry over Clinton's pardons, but he signed most of them on his way out the door, so continued argument was moot.