The two biggest bombshells of the opening day of the Scooter Libby trial were Libby’s signals of intention to “throw Karl Rove under the bus,” and his admission that his boss, Dick Cheney, directed him to “put his neck in the meat grinder.”
In one of the earliest posts I ever wrote on this blog, I speculated that Libby seemed to have chosen to make himself a “lightning rod,” in order to deflect attention from higher profile conspirators like Rove and Cheney.
At the time, this made a lot of sense (to me, at least), because with Fitzgerald’s intense investigation, someone had to be the firewall to prevent Fitz from moving up the chain of command where the political damage would be more widespread. And Libby’s actions were so blatant and obvious that they could only be intentional!
Libby was a perfect candidate because he was high enough in the chain to be trusted to play his role, but not well known enough to be permanently identified with Bush/Cheney/Rove era. Eventually, I posited, Libby would be pardoned and remembered by most of the general public only vaguely, in questions like, “ G. Scooter Liddy - wasn’t he one of those Watergate guys?”
But much has changed since Libby agreed to be the firewall between Fitzgerald and Cheney and Rove. Among those changes are:
- The President is now in freefall, and desperately trying to salvage some kind of positive legacy. Dick Cheney is the guy who was pulling the strings that led Bush to the brink of going down in history as the Worst President Ever, so he may no longer have the juice to influence Bush into giving Libby, Cheney’s henchman, a pardon.
- A civil lawsuit filed by Joe and Valerie Wilson creates additional legal peril that Libby might have to bear alone, if found guilty of criminal charges. Unlike a criminal conviction, the President can’t pardon an award for civil damages.
- Karl Rove is no longer the untouchable architect of a permanent Republican dynasty! In fact, with a party desperately trying to rid itself of the stench of the last six years, Turdblossom seems a likely candidate to be made to embody all of the negative Republican stereotypes, as he is flushed away in order to try to get a clean start with the American public.
So now we know that Libby no longer wants to be the fall guy! After he set himself up to be a lightning rod to protect the others, Fitzgerald said “OK, I’ll bite. Let’s see how many jolts you’re willing to take for Cheney and Rove?” Apparently, it’s not that many!
Libby now wants to cast himself as a pawn, albeit a hard working, highly influential and important - but extremely forgetful - pawn! For Fitzgerald, who undoubtedly recognized Libby’s initial willingness to sacrifice himself to shield the truth, Libby’s change of heart is a victory in itself.
Fitzgerald was the umpire trying to see what was going on, and Libby threw dust in his eyes. Fitzgerald could see, but not prove, what was going on through the dust, so he indicted Libby for throwing it. Now, Libby seems willing to reveal at least some of what was going on, particularly regarding Cheney and Rove, in order to save himself.
But here is where the baseball analogy falls short! In baseball, there is no instant replay, and the umpire’s initial judgment must stand. However, in a criminal investigation, Fitzgerald can still go back and make the correct call. Hopefully that will mean eventually hearing him say the magic words:
Cheney and Rove, You’re Ooouuuuttttt!!!!!