Today's New York Times carries an interesting article entitled "Aides Say No Pardon for Libby Irked Cheney," by Jim Rutenberg and Jo Becker. The story reports on how insistently Cheney lobbied Bush for a pardon for his former chief of staff; Bush's refusal to do so leaves Libby a convicted felon unable to practice law, although his 20 month prison sentence was earlier commuted.
The article cites various sources about Bush's reasons for not agreeing to the pardon, which range from not wanting to revisit his decisions to not wanting to leave office with a pardon scandal swirling around his head as Clinton did (a scandal that came back to haunt Eric Holder during his confirmation hearings.) The story even ends on a pretty ridiculous note, as follows:
But a former administration official involved in some of the deliberations said the outcome of the lobbying effort was evidence of something else: “The biggest myth of the presidency is that Vice President Cheney always got his way.”
My own hunch is that Bush, dim bulb that he was, really did understand by the end of his presidency that the judgement of history was already upon him, and that it wasn't good. And I think he understood, and understands now, that his biggest mistake was following Cheney and his ideological gang off the deep end, letting them have their way on the most important things and leaving his presidency and the country (not to mention much of the world) in shambles. Small men like Bush think small thoughts and make their stands in small ways. For Bush, having failed for eight years to think for himself, refusing to pardon Libby was one of the few prerogatives he had left.
More on Bush-Cheney. No sooner had I finished this blog post than I looked at the Times' Opinion section and saw that Maureen Dowd had pursued similar themes. Interesting stuff, check it out.