Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What If A Democrat Did It: The Home Version

Junior Bush had his moment to show what he’s really made of, and came through for his puppeteers in grand fashion on Monday afternoon. His hand no doubt forced by his primary handler, Dick Cheney, Bush took a break from his boat party with Putin to commute Scooter Libby’s sentence, meaning that one of the driving forces of his disastrous regime has been spared the petty indignities and bad bedding of prison life. Libby’s outright lies to a federal grand jury are as good as forgiven. The only thing left to do is the complete pardon on Bush’s way out the door and, what the heck, how about a Medal of Freedom?

Despite the latest outrage and the threat to our democracy, not to mention law and order, by the always imaginative Bushies, the timing of this could not be better for me personally. Some of you don’t know that I am at heart an entrepreneur. I have in development a board-game that should be ready in time for the holiday season. It will be called: What If A Democrat Did It? WIADDI will be a revolutionary board-game – more educational than Trivial Pursuit, more tricky than Jenga, more mysterious than Clue. There are no wrong answers in WIADDI. The only limit is your – imagination!

As you play WIADDI, you progress through four levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. As a Beginner, you are presented with simple, easily-managed problems. At this level, you should be able to determine what would happen If A Democrat Did It without too much trouble. For instance, Bush selected a losing Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate and political hack who presided over the most negative campaign in Wisconsin history to an ambassadorship in Tanzania. Now – altogether – What If A Democrat Did It?!? (This phase is meant to be shouted by everyone in the room and everyone has to take a drink.) Points are given for each keyword hit, for which the moderator rings a bell. The obvious answer: Radio wingnuts (ding!) would accuse Democrats of blatant cronyism (ding!) and political payback (ding!). Three bells means a perfect score. See? It’s easy – and fun!

Higher levels present more challenging facts to really get your Cranium cranking. Let’s say a wealthy Democratic contributor and lobbyist for mining interests is put in charge of the Mine Safety Administration. The fox watching the chicken coop! Kickbacks no doubt expected! Contributor probably sleeping his way to the top! Can the head of EPA be far behind? You get the idea.

Here is a secret tip for success at all levels of WIADDI: All you have to do is think of everything that the mainstream media hasn’t done in response the Bush Outrages and assume they would do what they should have been doing all these years If A Democrat Did It. Given everything the lapdog media has failed to do in the Bush Years, you have thousands of options to choose from.

At the higher levels, the stakes get greater for the Hypothetical Democrat. Imagine a Democratic Vice President locks all his routine daily work in a man-sized safe every night, scrubs the Secret Service records of who has visited his mansion and, ultimately, declares himself a member of the legislative branch, untethered by executive branch requirements. WIADDI? Public flogging? Impeachment, surely, but that would be too good for him.

At the Expert level, the mind reels over what would happen If A Democrat Did It. The first problem at that level is a classic – the shutting down of the recount in Florida in 2000. This answer requires a thousand-page essay not about whether, but how the Republicans and the media would prevent the Democrat from taking office. What if a Democrat, after 9/11, used the tragedy as a bludgeon to grab power for himself, start a phony war in the fragile Middle East, wiretap phones without a warrant, and even hold people in a sun-baked prison, incommunicado for more than five years, complete with torture and secret renditions to countries who really know how to "get the job done"? You can almost hear the reporter outside the White House: "A delegation of Democratic congressional leaders went to the White House today to tell the President that the time has come to step down..."

At this level, it will be tempting for you to leap immediately to impeachment for such a lawless regime. But, remember, points are given for creativity. You have to let go of your disbelief about what Bush has managed to get away with. Forget also that a Democrat would never even think of pulling stunts like any of the Bush Horrors. Remember that, whoever the Democratic nominee and eventual president will be in ‘08 and ‘09, they will be run through the personal and professional wringer and held to a higher standard than the Republican, as they always are. Mountains will be made out of molehills, and, no matter who it is, you will feel icky marking the ballot for them. But, in WIADDI, you get to imagine what would happen if the Democrats really did elect a lawless dolt. The ultimate WIADDI challenge: What if it was the Democrats who nominated George W. Bush? Talk about an ass-kicking!

After the board-game takes hold, I plan to syndicate the game on the comics page, like the old There Oughta Be a Law or Sudoku, with problems ripped from the day’s headlines.

Today’s WIADDI: What if a Democratic president commuted the sentence of a key aide who was convicted of lying to investigators and a federal grand jury about his involvement in a political smear job that resulted in the outing of a CIA operative?

Answer: What, are you kidding me? Maybe we should just take bets on how long it would take an administration like that to be run out of town on a rail.


Mike Plaisted said...

Clinton never pardoned anyone in his administration. Nixon let Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell, et. Al. stay in Club Fed, as they should have. Except for his Daddy pardoning the Iran-Contra criminals on the way out the door, Junior is plowing new ground here. This is a new level of favoritism, arrogance and cover-up.

Anonymous said...

Kind of hard for Clinton to pardon himself after lying under oath to a Federal Grand Jury!

EddyPo said...

I wonder if Libby will get his old job at the White House back. I mean why not? I suppose he can make more $$$ in the private sector. All in all, this will end up being very lucrative for him.

Mike Plaisted said...

Here's a flash for you, Anony -- Clinton did not commit perjury in his Paula Jones deposition or before the grand jury.

When he was sandbagged in the Jones deposition, he was asked whether he had "sexual relations" or a "sexual affair" with Lewinsky. As defined by the court, he didn't. No lies there.

He didn't lie in front of the grand jury, either. He simply explained the legal parsing that he legitimately made because of the rather convoluted definitions created by the judge in the Jones case. He had no obligation to step outside the definitions to help the Scaife lawyers in the Jones case who were trying to destroy him.

Libby's lies were focused, intentional and designed to protect his boss, Dick Cheney. His defense of forgetfulness -- which he never did make, because he didn't testify -- is ludicrous. The entire office of the Vice President was on fire about the Wilson column and it was Libby's job to put out the flames not on the merits, as usual, but with charactor assassination. He couldn't have forgotten what he did because it was one of his most important missions at the time.

There, that's two phony wing-nut talking-point Clinton-did-it-too excuses for Junior's action yesterday knocked down.


Russ said...

"Clinton did not commit perjury".
Is insulting people's intelligence your full time job?

Mike Plaisted said...

Alright, Russ. Prove it.

I know it is accepted by some that he did, but he didn't. If you don't think Ken Starr would have gone for it if he thought he could possibly prove it, you're nuts.

Sorry to jar you with the facts. He didn't commit perjury. If you're so smart, show me how. If you can't, you are the only one insulting your intellegence.

Rick Esenberg said...


I'm honestly confused. Are you referring to Judge Wright's opinion holding Clinton in civil contempt ? She found that his deposition testimony regarding whether he had ever been alone with Lewinsky and whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky was intentionally false. That's not a finding of perjury but, then again, that question wasn't before her. This opinion was referred to the Arkansas Supreme Court - before which he was ultimately disbarred for "serious misconduct" in the Paula Jones case.

I'll grant you that Clinton was never convicted of perjury although I would never say that he "did not commit" it. But however you want to slice that, he engage in what most people - say my wife if I tried to get that stuff past her - would call an unmitigated lie. I wouldn't spend too much energy in his defense.

Anonymous said...

As they say -- No One Died When Clinton Lied.

Try to make this about the Clintons again, all you want, but answer us this:

Is there a difference between lying to protect your family and a young intern as well as yourself, of course (disgusting as that entire episode was) . . . and lying that prevents the federal government from figuring out who endangered a covert intelligence officer and possibly expose covert operations, especially in a time of terrorist attacks on the country?

Mike Plaisted said...


I don't think enough Democrats spent enough "energy" on Clinton's defense, but I will, even at this late date. Especially since Bush's usual defenders are throwing around that and the Rich pardon as some sort of they-do-it-we-do-it justification.

"Not cooperating with discovery" is hardly perjury, although Wright somehow declares a falsehood involving her own convoluted definition of "sexual relations". Starr certainly recognized that or he would have charged after Clinton like the wing-nut bull he was (is).

Although cable TV shows that should know better (like Hardball) are treating the Clinton obfuscations and the Libby outright lies as equivalent, you know they are not. Clinton was sandbagged during his deposition in the soon-to-be-dismissed Jones case and danced around as best he could. Libby had plenty of time to prepare, had numerous conversations with investigators, testified under oath in the grand jury and told bald-faced, prepared lies.

You know and I know, Rick, how anyone else by Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff would have been treated in this situation. To pretend that the Libby case somehow lends itself to commutation (and, no doubt, a pardon as Bush hits the door) on some objective merits, as the right-wing contends, is ludicrous. They have spent the past six months softening-up the media and electorate for this outrage, but that doesn't make it any less so. Libby walks not just because he's rich, but especially because he is connected. Even the criminal Nixon let his flunkies do their time. Why not Bush?

Anonymous said...

Mike -

I am a little concerned. You seemed to a significant amount of "dancing" around in your response to Rick.

According to Wikipedia, Clinton was only not persued for perjury for agreeing to being disbarred. Perhaps there is more to the perjury issues than you are aware of? I also find it interesting that the Supreme Court was going to disbar him also - and only did not because Clinton decided to resign. What kind of man is up from disbarred from the Supreme Court, an honorable one?

I also find it interesting that you combine legal and social definitions (depending on which one suits your argument the best).

One minute you are speaking technical nuances of legal theory and then the next you are speaking about media public relations.

This little two-step makes you a little difficult to follow. I have a feeling your points would be a little more coherent if you did not feel a need to push an agenda (thus minimizing pain points and maximizing positive points) but rather sought a logical and reasonable perspective.

Anonymous said...

Oooooh, Wikipedia. There's a reliable source for ya. Next?

Mpeterson said...

Grin. I save all this stuff for my logic midterm exams. My thanks Mike.

Whenever the theo-neo-cons get caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they can't defend themselves so they distract us... maybe by shooting an old friend in the face (true friendship there) or by invading some country that hasn't attacked us (disagreeing with me you treasonous bastard?), or by indignantly snorting up a shadow puppet version of Bill Clinton's administration.

I'm only surprised that Anony didn't suggest that maybe Libby was a Clinton appointment.

[wait, he wasn't, right?]


Anonymous said...


Mike, you must admit that if all things were equal and Libby had a "D" after his name instead of an "R", you'd provide the same defense of him as you have of Clinton's perjury case.

Hacks complaining that hacks are hypocrites is highly entertaining, because it's ALWAYS different when your guy doesn't it, and you've got complex, great-sounding reasons why.


Other Side said...

And, the irony of LAWLZ's comment escapes him/her completely ... whoosh!

Rick Esenberg said...


You know better than this. Wright said that he didn't cooperate with discovery by lying about Lewinsky. Remember this is the same judge that granted summary judgment on the underlying sexual harassment charge (more or less on the novel grounds that a superior gets one free exposure of his member) so this is hardly a right wing judge.

I've taught this case. Maybe a convoluted parsing of the proferred definiton of sexual relations would have walked him on the perjury charge, although, if you look at the deposition, it's, at best, a horse race for Bill's side.

Libby says he doesn't remember a conversation the same way some reporters do. You're a defense attorney. Do you really not have a problem with a perjury conviction behind that?

Mike Plaisted said...


Hey, he's not my client. I understand the defense he wanted to make. The problem is that he didn't make it.

As is his right, Libby didn't say anything during the trial. Although his defense team misled the judge all the way along so that he could make a "I didn't remember" defense, he never actually made it. Because he never testified.

And, it makes absolutely no sense that he would have forgotten what he did to push the Plame connection to undermine Wilson. Countering Wilson's claims was Priority #1 for the manipulative Cheney and Libby was doing his job by floating the Plame connection at every opportunity. That was a very hot time in the VP's office. What he did to undermine Wilson is something he probably was bragging about for weeks, much less forgetting about it.

That's why he didn't testify. He would have been literally laughed out of court.

Clinton was sandbagged and danced and obfuscated, getting caught in a game of gotcha by right-wing zealots. Libby was testifying before a federal grand jury before an experienced and respected prosecutor. He planned to lie ahead of time. And he did. Repeatedly. There is no comparison.

Anonymous said...

For my former teacher Mr. Esenberg. Any jury of rationale people, including the Libby jury, would realize that Clinton's parsing about how and when he "got it on" with Ms. Lewinsky is much, much different than Scooter's calculated obstruction of justice in the Plame case.

Anonymous said...

The lines are drawn. Sides are chosen. An election ends and someone takes power. The other side then spends all the time remaining chipping away at their opponent. How long can this country limp on with this childish feuding controlling its politics?

Anonymous said...

Oh...and where do those of you who label Libby's testimony as "calculated", "planned" or "focused, intentional and designed to protect his boss" get that opinion? Is it based on something substantive or just a product of your vivid imaginations?

Anonymous said...

*sounds of crickets*