We read the headline on a story buried deep on a back page related to Texas indictments on Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but we don’t bother reading further. What’s the point?
Surely the story is related to Guantanamo Bay, or some other absurdity these guys were involved in. It did not make the front cover, so how momentous can it be? The story appears to be about prisons, or prisoners, or something else that won’t affect us much, so who cares? Things are rarely as they appear.
On closer analysis, we are offered a view of the bizarre circus that is often performed by the Texas judicial system. That is not bewildering, since the performance of many magisterial infrastructures on this continent are desperately wanting, and the Texas judiciary rarely provides a surprise. The indictment of a sitting Vice President of the United States, however, should be international front-page news, and deserves dissection with all the skepticism that CSI Miami’s labs might percolate into truth. Alas, no such disposition is demonstrated on this case, yet even for modest entertainment, the incident deserves attention.
It may be impossible to discern if this collision of hapless dominos being played in a judicial game of Texas law, is simply a Universal coincidence when all astrological forces merged to favor the Bush Administration, or is an outcome of the current White House hard at work on its end game.
The endless rambling road of predictions and conjecture is littered with decimated egos, yet on this one, can we help ourselves? The opportunity is too appetizing to pass up. This spectacle in Texas, fields a cast of characters too reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, to be either funny, or an aberration. And no, this isn’t a conspiracy theory revelation, but how good can a story get?
Cheney is accused of conflict of interest because he owns substantial holdings in the Vanguard Group, which invests in private prisons, while he holds influence over the Willacy County’s federal immigrant detention center. He is also accused of misdemeanor assaults on detainees because of that ownership link. In the litany of errant decisions suspected of Cheney, nailing him with a misdemeanor does not ignite much interest, and would not even make any list of top ten transgressions. This misdemeanor would also not find much traction in most courts, yet there it stands.
Gonzales on the other hand is accused of terminating an investigation into abuses at a federal detention center in the county. Gonzales demonstrated little propensity for recollection of anything when Congress questioned him on events within his own office. How can anyone possibly believe that he might successfully be linked to events inside a Texas detention center, while he fumbled around Washington? Perhaps someone is finally crediting Gonzales of having talent.
We suspect that Cheney and Gonzales are not losing much sleep from anxiety over this affair. Neither the accused, nor the District Attorney showed up for arraignments. The D. A. was found camping outside the courthouse with a horse, 3 goats and a rooster, and clerks, judges and prosecutors related to the case are separately being indicted on charges of abuse. They are furthermore embroiled in other debilitating peculiarities, laying a cloak of dubious lineage on an already questionable judicial exercise.
So how bizarre is this game? Perhaps not bizarre at all. The timing is impeccable and the players appear perfectly suited for the performances of their lives. Burlesque or not, they may be celebrated for years to come at a now famous ranch in Crawford, Texas, and might be deserving of a badge of excellence.
For all those who have reported, with a certain glee, on the charges against the intensely disliked Vice President’s potential humiliation, don’t dive into your bath of triumph with too fervent exhilaration. You may be gawking at a perfect scenario for George W. Bush to erect a Chinese Wall around himself.
As Bush exits the most powerful office in the world, but before welcoming the 44th. President, he will dispense Presidential pardons with sanguine indifference to perceptions. He can do so even before any trial is concluded. What a perfect, non-descript, development, and excuse for a blanket absolution of his Vice President from exposure to flack flying from any and all activities, or decisions. Gonzales is just an additional moat of protection for fortress Bush. Rather than wait for events to unravel after he has left office, or for other charges to be leveled at Cheney, Bush is presented a perfectly rational circumstance for exercising the power to pardon, before it evaporates completely from his grasp on January 20, 2009.
Deployment of the protective mantle to shelter the first guard of this markedly reviled President may propel Congress to revisit the practice that has been an embarrassment to the electorate in almost every instance that a Commander in Chief has left office. Presidential pardons have no place in a Democracy that honors itself with Laws.
James J. Raider blogs at pacificgatepost.blogspot.com