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September 29, 2003

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Beldar

Tom, my commendations for riding herd on this so well for so long. You're performing a valuable service.

I do disagree with your last remark, though: In front of this is not at all where George W. Bush needs to be.

Dubya has an important role in overseeing White House staff operations -- setting policies about leaks in general, for instance. It's hard to fault his performance of that task; Beltway insiders both right and left describe this as the least leak-prone and most disciplined administration in modern history.

If it's determined that new laws are required, Dubya'd also have an important role in proposing and pushing for that.

But beyond that -- in particular, with respect to conducting the investigation, or calling anyone onto the carpet, or micromanaging the DoJ's investigation (including its consideration of the demands from various Democratic presidential candidates for an independent prosecutor (shiver)) -- Dubya should maintain a proper presidential distance.

Any doofus who's convinced that Dubya doesn't care about the rule of law isn't going to be convinced by anything he could do or say about this case. Anyone who actually knows and cares much about the enforcement of the law knows that the President -- not just this President, but any President -- ought not be getting into the middle of ongoing investigations, trials, or appeals.

When and if DoJ decides a crime has been committed, and when and if the judicial branch has its rather important say on that subject, then Dubya may have another role to play if the convicted criminals seek any sort of executive clemency or pardon. And that's yet another reason why Presidents historically stay the hell out of criminal investigations and prosecutions.

TM

Hmm, the mysterious "Beldar"!

I am midway through a post (now somewhere up above) arguing that the law is not the point, which I understand is news that lawyers may not immediately embrace.

Basically, the issue should be national security, and on that point, Bush can't be perceived as waiting for the wheels of DoJ to grind fine.

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