Maureen Dowd: Bush Didn't 'Want to Add a Marc Rich Blot' With Libby Pardon

February 18th, 2009 8:28 PM
Maureen Dowd's New York Times opinion piece yesterday was "Cheney and the Goat Devil."  The mainstream media are reveling in the purported falling out between former President George Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.  Supposedly the two disagreed over granting Cheney's previous chief of staff, Scooter Libby, a pardon.  Dowd joins in the fun:
There were clues in the last couple of years that W. and Condi were trying to sidle away from Cheney by using the forbidden strategy of diplomacy in dealing with Iran and North Korea, and by cutting loose Rummy.

As one official who worked closely with both W. and Cheney told The New York Daily News’s Tom DeFrank the last week of the administration: “It’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard the president say, ‘Run that by the vice president’s office.’ You used to hear that all the time.”

The clearest sign of disaffection we have is Bush’s refusal to pardon Scooter Libby, the man known as “Cheney’s Cheney,” despite Vice’s tense and emotional pleading. It was his final, too little, too late “You are not the boss of me” spurning of Dick Cheney.

It may seem pointless for W. to worry about his legacy at this juncture, but he clearly did not want to add a Marc Rich blot to all the other gigantic blots on the copybook.
Approximating the Marc Rich case to that of Scooter Libby is akin to comparing Barney Frank to John Wayne.  They have almost nothing in common, something even Dowd may have noticed.

As Time Magazine reported soon after Bill Clinton pardoned Rich, who had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List:
In 1983, Rich was indicted in federal court of evading more than $48 million in taxes. He was also charged with 51 counts of tax fraud and with running illegal oil deals with Iran during the hostage crisis.
Furthermore, Time noted, "Marc Rich's socialite ex-wife has donated an estimated $1 million to Democratic causes, including $70,000 to Hillary Clinton's successful Senate campaign and $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library fund."

In contrast, Scooter Libby greatest crime was at worst lying.  The New York Times reported:
I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted today of lying to a grand jury and to F.B.I. agents investigating the leak of the identity of a C.I.A. operative in the summer of 2003 amid a fierce public dispute over the war in Iraq.
Senior U.S. News & World Report writer Michael Barone succinctly explained what had transpired in the Libby case:
Libby was a dedicated and hypercompetent public servant who was brought down by a prosecutor investigating a scandal that wasn't a scandal. The investigation purportedly was an attempt to discover who had told Robert Novak that Valerie Plame was a CIA "operative" (Novak's word). But prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew before the investigation began that the leaker was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. It is astonishing that Armitage and his friend and boss Secretary of State Colin Powell didn't inform Bush of this and allowed two of his top aides, Libby and Karl Rove, to be harassed by Fitzgerald for months and years.
There is no comparison between Marc Rich and Scooter Libby.  Still, had Bush done the unthinkable and actually pardoned Libby, no doubt we'd have heard about it incessantly from the mainstream media for years to come.  You'd think that Scooter Libby had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.