The Fault, Dear Brutus, Is Not in the Constitution, But in Ourselves
Sandy Levinson believes that our Constitution is broken, and writes:
Open University: The best explanation of the pardon is... fear that Mr. Libby might be tempted to provide more information about the cabal to turn the presidency (and vice-presidency) into "regal," if not out-and-out dictatorial, authorities totally independent from any scrutiny or accountability. This is simply one more illustration of the mendacity and corruption at the heart of the Bush Administration.... No one should doubt that we are in a constitutional crisis. And part of the crisis can be found within the Constitution itself. Perhaps it is a good idea that the President can pardon (or commute) convicted criminals.... But it is also clear that the pardoning authority can be abused by unscrupulous presidents.... Mr. Bush's commutation, is such a threat, unless, of course, one defines a "Republican Form of Government" as "Government by the Republican Party." It will be interesting to see if any of those who look to the Founding Generation for wisdom about current realities will give any credence to the timely warnings of Mason and Martin (and others) about the potentially cancerous consequences of the Pardoning Power.
The problem is not in the Pardoning Power. The problem is that there are not sixteen Republican senators willing to vote that obstructing justice by misuse of the Pardon Power is a High Crime warranting impeachment and removal from office. If there were sixteen Republican senators who loved their country--or loathed their Bush--more than their party, we wouldn't have a problem.
The interesting question is not how Cheney hypnotized Bush, or why Cheney drove this administration over the cliff, but why the cabinet members and senators and representatives of the Republican Party stayed in the van all the way down. Part of the answer is the memory of 1994: that if the president of your party is perceived as a failure, your reelection is in jeopardy. Therefore Bush has to be perceived as a success--no matter what he does--and 100% solid Republican backing for what he does is a necessary part of his being perceived as a success.
This explanation is insufficient, however. The first rule of being a minister for a weak, confused Sultan--whether Selim the Sot or W--is that nobody persuasive ever gets to see the Sultan alone. Jim Baker let Jeanne Kirkpatrick see Ronald Reagan alone on February 17, 1983:
Thur Feb 17 1983: Jeanne Kirkpatrick reported on her trip to Central America. A grim story. Our Ambas. Hinton under the direction of the same kind of St. Dept. bureaucrats who made Castro possible are screwing up the situation in El Salvador. I'm now really mad. Bill C. is bringing George S. up to date and then I'm determined heads will roll, beginning with Ambas. Hinton...
And four months later Reagan couldn't remember that he had himself, personally, fired Ambassador Hinton:
Thu Jun 9 1983: Ambas. Hinton just relieved as Ambas. to El Salvador, stopped by. He's a good man and did a fine job under extremely difficult circumstances. I hope he can convince some of our left leaning Congressmen how wrong they are...
No later than June 30, 2001, Bush's chief-of-staff Andrew Card, the assistants to the president, and the entire cabinet should have gone to him with one demand: Dick Cheney doesn't see you alone, or we all resign today. They didn't.
It's still not too late for them to do that today.