The Libby conviction

Concerning the conviction of Lewis Libby today, Larry G. writes:

Thirty-three years ago I watched with my father as President Nixon resigned the presidency after essentially being hounded out of office by the press. After the speech was over, my father turned to me and said, “Well, we live in a banana republic now.” With all the wisdom of my 18 years, I disagreed. But I long ago concluded that my father was right.

This was a political show trial like those we see in Latin American dictatorships or the former Soviet Union. It was not the first—I put Martha Stewart’s trial in the same category, and the trend stretches at least back to the 1980’s—and I’m sure it will not be the last. My confidence in our “justice” system reached zero a long time ago, but this was further, unneeded confirmation.

In a country where this kind of thing can happen, no man is safe.

LA replies:

While I don’t agree with Larry G. about Nixon’s resignation, I agree with everything else he says. When has anyone been tried and found guilty of the crime of perjury and sentenced to jail merely for making misstatements to investigators concerning a non-existent crime? Oh, yes. In the Martha Stewart case (discussed by me here and here). But this is far worse, since, as we know, the supposed administration vendetta against Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame which was the original object of this investigation and which supposedly motivated Libby’s supposed leak never occurred, and Fitzgerald knew this three years ago. An evil thing has been done here. The left had to “get” someone in the administration, and now they’ve done it. Fitzgerald is an evil man who deserves to go to hell for what he’s done.

- end of initial entry -

David H. writes:

When I read your statement about the Lewis Libby trial, especially “…Fitzgerald is an evil man who deserves to go to hell for what he’s done…”, it reminded me of a time long ago when moral pronunciations like yours were the norm, not a condemned, marginalized, perhaps soon-to-be-outlawed exception. How I thank you for taking me to that long-lost time…

Peter A. writes:

The moment I began to feel like we’re living in a banana republic: when the two Rodney King cops were retried following their first acquittal.

LA writes:

I’m trying to remember the first time I felt we were living in a banana republic…. It’ll come to me…

David H. writes:

Apropos, I agree with Peter A., The Rodney King trial, and also the aftermath—when neither the Army nor the National Guard was sent to suppress flagrant acts of murder and vandalism (actual racist ones), that was the exact moment when I realized how bad it had gotten. There was a time when a shoot-to-kill order would have been issued and the barbarity would have come to a screeching halt, but that time has been relegated to picture books of events like the San Francisco earthquake.

Jay F. writes:

While I agree with your characterization of Fitzgerald and his prosecution, I have no sympathy for Libby. He forgot the first traditional value all of us should have been taught as children: “Tell the truth.” The circumstances do not matter. The questioner and his motives do not matter. Just tell the truth.

LA replies:

Do you have any insights into why Libby would have misstated?

Jay F. replies:

While I do not claim to know what was specifically on Libby’s mind or the minds of his attorneys and advisers, I can comment on the general culture of politics.

The predominant view is do whatever you have to do to win elections and policy fights because the good you have in mind outweighs any “minor” wrong you do in order to win. If you do not win, the good plans you have are worthless, and the bad ideas of the opposition hold sway. So you “fudge” a little here, “spin” a little there and get away with “white” lies when you can. You justify it to yourself by focusing on what the other guy is doing instead of taking responsibility for your own actions. Of course, one can not “spin” and “misstate” all day at work and turn that switch to be honest at home, which is why so many of our elected officials and their staffers have disastrous personal lives.

Howard Sutherland writes:

I see you have a good comment up about Libby. This is more about mainstream conservative reaction to Libby contrasted to the reaction to Ramos-Compean than about the merits of Libby’s case, but I still think the difference in treatment is noteworthy.

I can’t help noticing how the people at NRO are leaping to exonerate the just-convicted Mr. Libby, a very well-connected Washington lawyer and fixer. Mr. Libby may be pure as the driven snow and his case may be a trumped-up travesty of justice. I don’t know.

What I do notice is the contrast between NR’s instantaneous call for a presidential pardon of Libby and how the same electron-mag sicced prosecutor Andrew McCarthy on Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean, whom the Bush administration has railroaded into federal prison for doing their jobs, there to suffer the gentle ministrations of illegal alien inmates. McCarthy thought U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s fabricated case against the Border Patrolmen, which relied entirely on the unverifiable testimony of a Mexican illegal alien drug smuggler—whom Sutton had given an immunity and freedom to cross the border, which the Mexican used to keep smuggling drugs into the United States—was a proper use of a federal prosecutor’s time and resources.

Why the difference?

Paul Henri replies to my earlier reply to him:
Lawrence, you hit your correspondents hard, and we should thank you for it. I must admit I think the word is highly offensive to homosexuals, and I was uncomfortable with her using the word in a serious political conference. Still conservatives should make the establishment curses just as offensive as faggot. One way of doing this is to take it up a notch, which will require the media to discuss the relative offensiveness of establishment curses. Ann is one of the few people doing this. She is an iconoclast of liberal ideals. Conservatives have been playing goody two-shoes politics for too long, and it is time to play hard ball.

I do not understand why a pundit calling a politician a name means the politician should punch the pundit. Punching would be barbaric adult behavior; most adults would either walk away or respond in kind and then walk away.

Moreover, I think it is an unsupported assumption that Ann was ducking a punch with her femininity. Ann, based on my experience, has the backbone to say such a thing to Edwards’ face but would not do so because of politeness. Ann is very brave; she endures physical and verbal attacks wherever she goes. I could say so much more, but I must stop because I am going on too long.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 06, 2007 03:37 PM | Send

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