Opinion » Bill Cope

Crime and Commutation

They're starving the Blind Lady to death


I tell you, citizens, we are running out of words to describe these creeps. A vice president who insists he's beyond the reach of any examination whatsoever? A White House that refuses to comply with Congress' oversight authority? Vanishing e-mails, an attorney general with less honesty than the average convict? "Arrogant," "corrupt," "imperious," "elitist," "smug" ... the usual adjectives no longer suffice. Calling the Bush administration "arrogant" is like calling a burst sewer line "inconvenient." And now this Libby affair, good God! What's a fella gotta do anymore to get his dumb ass impeached?

For days, I have been struggling to find something even slightly funny to write about Bush's commutation of Scooter's prison sentence. I could hardly let it go without saying anything, could I? The leader of our country lets a snake off the hook after said snake obfuscates the truth so thoroughly that the master criminals (in an act of vicious treason, mind you) cannot be brought to justice? That simply could not pass without comment—even if I had to wait 16 days after Bush took his vile dump on the American legal system for it to appear in print. I'd written myself into a corner with the decision to waste two columns on a meaningless narrative of Alberto Gonzales' meaningless trip to Boise and the meaningless press conference that came of it. I promised the second part and I had to deliver, which meant that whatever I had to add to the discussion wouldn't show up until long after everyone with a radio show or a blog or a talking-head spot on a Sunday morning news re-cap will have already had their say.

Oh my, and have their say, they did. The bleating Right went immediately into hyper-spin to defend the mockery Bush made of justice. "There was no underlying crime!" they squealed. "It was all politically motivated!" they squawked. And like every whining snot on every playground who gets caught doing something rotten, they brought out their all-time favorite diversionary tactic: "Look at Bill Clinton! He's worse!"

Surely, I could make something funny out of all that ... I thought. But I couldn't. I'm too mad. Still, days and days after it happened, I'm boiling. I'm angrier over Bush commuting Scooter's sentence than I was when the lousy bastard invaded Iraq in the first place. Madder than when we learned he had no valid reasons to have invaded Iraq. Madder, even, than when it became clear we actually had been lied to about the reasons he invaded Iraq, or that the Praetorian thugs around him were willing to destroy anyone who exposed the lies. I am not one who can convert anger into funny, not when I'm this mad.

So I'm giving up on funny. I'll just lay it out straight, and this is it. We—the people who still have some respect for justice—cannot allow the bum to finish his presidency. And if he does manage to grease through the next 17 months without being thrown from office, we must never stop pursuing a fitting penalty for what he and his accomplices have done to this country.

I cannot enumerate all the reasons Bush is unfit to be president every time his name comes up. If you haven't kept up on your own, obviously, he's your kind of president. But in a sentence, he and his cabal have besmirched everything 15 generations of decent Americans sought to achieve. The most damning blood on their hands, of course, is that of the 3,600 men and women wasted in the desert of deception, and the lives yet to be wasted because they haven't the honor to admit their own abject failure.

But the curse we will be forced to endure the longest—long after they have left office, long after they have gone to meet whatever monstrous Maker could have made such monstrous men—is the loss of our faith that justice will be delivered evenly, regardless of one's station. And when our trust that justice is for all withers, then justice itself is dead. It cannot exist outside of our belief in it and insistence on it.

Look, justice isn't just an optional nicety that may or may not happen when we live in a free land. Nor is it a side show we entertain ourselves with as we slobber over the spectacle of some famous bimbo being escorted to lockup. Justice is central and indispensable to a free land. If freedom is the blood of our nation and equality the vision, then justice is the spine—maybe the brain, itself, which sees to it that everything else remains in working order.

Yet the conspiracy of twisted souls and dead hearts who unashamedly occupy our White House is turning justice into an empty word, an absurd daydream for cynics to roll their eyes over and sneer, "Justice? Yeah ... sure." The very people who rose to power on the argument of accountability have shown they consider accountability—as Leona Helmsley considered the duty of paying taxes—as something for "only the little people."

It is intentional, I believe that to the marrow of my bones. They need Americans to grow cynical, for their black philosophy cannot survive among the sane and hopeful. That's why their most energetic and ubiquitous defense of Bush's action is to dredge up Bill Clinton's history with pardons—to spread the seeds of cynicism beyond themselves. They must make us believe everyone is as sleazy and wretched as they are. It is in their interest to nurture pessimism and defeatism among Americans. They would have us believe there is no hope of ever achieving a just nation—not from them, nor from their opposition— so that we will despair that the powerful can get away with anything, and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. They want us to give up on justice, plain and simple.

And if we do, then without question, they will get away with anything they want. Do you doubt for a second that men who could start a war as a political trick have even more horrors for humanity up their blood-soaked sleeves?

Just as justice is indispensable to a free land, it is often the absence of justice that compels people to take a liberating leap into action. Forget Scooter. He's only a guppy in a suit. It's time to fry the big fish. I urge you, add your voices in whatever way possible to the growing chorus calling for impeachment. It's improbable that Bush or Cheney will ever spend time in a prison cell—ah, sweet, sweet justice!—but if we want to continue to live in a land we are proud to live in, it's up to us to ensure that their only legacy, the only word they are left with, is "shame."