The One Thing That Is Left

Last week we read of how Bush single handedly made the decision to grant clemency to Scooter Libby even when two courts appointed by the Bush Administration said that his sentence was fair and in line with the sentencing guidelines which the Bush Administration has pushed without mercy on other convicted criminals. Bush made the decision even though members of his own party and Administration advised him otherwise. One House Republican said in the Washington Post, “Please let this be over.” And that is not the first time he has been trigger happy either. He pushed ahead on immigration reform when he was warned it would fail. Key Republicans have now deserted him on the war, but he continues to argue for its success. What comes next? That is the scary part as Andrew Sullivan wrote on Sunday in the London Times:

“The only thing Washington loves less than a lame-duck president is a completely unpredictable lame-duck president. They are scared that he could do anything, without real consultation. The Libby decision was made just like the decision to author-ise torture: it was done outside the normal channels of government, blindsiding key aides, and shocking the establishment. If he did this once – and he has done it many times – he could do it again. And so, for all his failure and polling dive, he retains the capacity for surprise. Which is the capacity for relevance.

This is all he’s got left. The mighty power of the presidency, a predilection for sudden action, and absolutely nothing to lose. This lame duck, in other words, could quack or fly without warning. And Washington, for all its increasingly open contempt for him, is rattled by the possibility. They don’t know what’s coming; but they know they’ll have to adjust.

In this, perhaps for the first time, even Republicans are having a familiar experience. They now know what it’s like to be a European with this president. And they are longing for it to be over.”


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