Well, the New York Times has finally noticed that Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence is just the teensiest bit out of sync with his past history. Adam Liptak presents a pretty good roundup of Bush’s near-total lack of mercy as a governor and a president, but towards the end he apparently realizes that he’s making Dubya look like a heartless jerk, and that would be bad.
Read the two penultimate paragraphs back-to-back and see if you don’t get whiplash:
Mr. Burwell, who was appointed to the board by Mr. Bush, voted for clemency. “He didn’t commit the crime we executed him for,” Mr. Burwell said of Mr. Graham. As for Mr. Bush, “I thought he was harder on crime than he needed to be,” Mr. Burwell said.
In his memoir, Mr. Bush wrote about agonizing over the case of Karla Faye Tucker, who in 1998 became the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. Ms. Tucker, who was convicted in the ax murders of two people during a robbery in 1983, had become a born-again Christian while in prison, and her case drew support from across the political spectrum. Mr. Bush described feeling “like a huge piece of concrete was crushing me” as he waited with aides for Ms. Tucker’s execution. It was, he said, “the longest 20 minutes of my tenure as governor.”
Wow, I guess Dubya was just misunderstood. He really wanted to pardon all of those poor doomed souls, but his own personal integrity and high ethical standards just wouldn’t let him give in to his bottomless human compassion.
Um, or not. For those of you who don’t remember it, here’s how Dubya really felt about Karla Faye Tucker, encapsulated in a charming little Dubya Moment which Liptak completely neglects to mention in his last-minute turd-polishing:
In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker’s] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. “Did you meet with any of them?” I ask.
Bush whips around and stares at me. “No, I didn’t meet with any of them,” he snaps, as though I’ve just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. “I didn’t meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like ‘What would you say to Governor Bush?’ ”
“What was her answer?” I wonder.
“Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.”
Ladies and gentlemen, your agonizer-in-chief.
(It is worth noting that this is the same Adam Liptak who Glenn Greenwald called out today for misrepresenting Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s ruling against BushCo’s warrantless wiretaps – see observation #4.)