All Those Bush Scandals

I have a certain friend in the UK who, shall we say, is no fan of the Bush Administration. The last time I talked to her face to face in 2003 she was worried about two things. The first was that the "Bush" Federal deficit would wreck the global economy. And the second was just a general reference to "all the scandals surrounding the Bush Administration".

Well, it looks like we dodged the deficit bullet. Not that it was ever really an issue. But that's for another time. What I'm thinking about now is the all those "Bush scandals".

As anyone who pays half a mind to the news knows, the mainstream press did its mightiest to gin up any number of scandals toward the end of the first Bush Administration in an effort to keep the president from being re-elected. From "cherrypicking" intelligence, to leaked memos, to Valerie Plame. It was all a thinly veiled effort to take down the administration prior to the 2004 election. That's about as obvious as the nose on my face.

Of course, if your news sources are the BBC and any one of eight daily newspapers published in and around London, you would have thought Bush and his cronies were running an organized crime syndicate. So it's not surprising that my friend thought there were in fact a host of scandals in Washington. After all, eight years of Clinton administration would prepare anyone for ongoing malfeasance in American politics (there were 61 criminal indictments brought against the Clinton Administration... just for the record.)

In any case, the one "scandal" that the press was able to make stick is now coming to trial. Scooter Libby was indicted for lying to a Grand Jury that was considering charges related to an unauthorized disclosure of the status of an CIA official. No charges were brought against Libby on the original charge. Essentially he is being charged for contradicting the testimony of another witness, a witness one supposes that the prosecutor believed more.

If the British media is anything like the American media (which it is... or maybe worse), a good proportion of the facts leading to trial haven't been reported. Those would be the facts that are favorable to Libby's defense. And from what we are seeing now, the New York Times and other media outlets who have a dog in this fight are reporting the story in a way that will limit damage to themselves.

On the other side of the pond, I'm sure outlets like the BBC will simply ignore the trial as effectively as they misreported the whole grand jury process. My friend and her like minded travelers will be never fully appreciate how much the fuss in 2003 was a media generated fiasco. And they will continue to have the vague impression that "Bush is a crook" because of all those "scandals" Washington.

But I guess that was the point.