There it was on the front page of Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post, big as life and twice as ugly: "In the West Wing, Pardon Is A Topic Too Sensitive to Mention."
The gist: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby got clocked with a 30-month prison sentence after being convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame matter, and now squadrons of GOP die-hards are insisting that Bush pardon him before he goes to jail. On the surface, debate over whether or not to pardon Libby centers around how much more scandal and public disgrace this administration can endure. The Post story reports that several White House aides are deeply concerned that a Libby pardon risks "renewing questions about the truthfulness of the Bush administration."
Perish the thought.
Beneath this simplistic surface, however, boils a cauldron of deeper and far more complicated troubles. Bush, Cheney, the administration as a whole, and the entire Republican Party face the simultaneous eruption of several potential catastrophes, which, if they were to coalesce into one gargantuan avalanche, could very well render all prior problems quaint by comparison.
Peel the onion:
And peel it he does, layer by tears-of-rage inducing layer.
The newest Pew Research Center poll shows Bush's overall popularity coming in just under that of scabies and bubonic plague. [...]
The movement faction hasn't quite realized the degree to which they are considered useful-idiot cannon fodder by GOP officeholders and the check-writing faction. Whenever the GOP needs to divide public sentiment or distract public attention, the movement people get deployed to scream about gay rights, the Ten Commandments, snowflake babies, or whatever happens to be available at the moment. By mouthing platitudes about these issues, the party fools the movement faction into thinking the party actually cares about them.
But now, there is this immigration debate, which threatens to rip the scales from the eyes of the movement faction. Battalions of GOP politicians have made careers out of spitting venom at illegal immigrants to gain support from the movement base. Simultaneously, however, those same politicians have been accepting gigantic campaign checks from the big-money faction, who absolutely depend on easy access to the dirt-cheap pool of slave labor availed to them by the existence of millions of undocumented immigrants within the US.
The problem for the GOP politicians, of course, is that their movement-faction constituents have bought into their demagoguery about illegal immigration to such a degree that, today, this issue is second only to abortion on their list of Hated Things. The issue has birthed a seething anger within the movement faction aimed at illegal immigrants in general, but now aimed also at any GOP politician who stands for anything besides mass deportations.
But there are all those checks to consider, right?
If Judge Walton decides June 14 is go-to-jail day for Libby, and no Bush pardon is forthcoming, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will find himself gripping the handle of an awesomely formidable battle axe. Fitzgerald has made clear his belief that Libby broke the law, but did so to protect his boss, Dick Cheney. Fitzgerald will be able, under these circumstances, to offer Libby a choice: do hard time, or roll on your boss and spill the beans.
If that happens, and Libby decides to escape prison time by telling Fitzgerald what he knows, the cat will finally leap all the way out of the bag. The outing of Plame, the manipulation of WMD intelligence, the Office of Special Plans, the manipulation of terror alerts, the true intentions behind the decision to invade, and the whole smelly pile of fish heads will come spilling out onto the dock for all to see. Such an outcome might even pierce the veil surrounding Cheney's secret energy meetings from way back when; many people suspect that an invasion of Iraq, and a capture of their oil infrastructure, played a large part in the formulation of those plans.
June 14, simply put, is going to be a really, really big day.
And yet tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps ever on in this petty pace. Any one of these troubles is trouble enough for the GOP, but to have all of them come together simultaneously portends the kind of total political calamity this country has not seen in generations.
I got a 5-point harness and a roll cage. I'm going to watch this wreck with my eyes wide open and a shit-eatin' grin on my face. Let 'er buck!