The secret is that they clean up well.
The greatest con jobs start with a good haircut and a well-tailored suit. If the political con artist can get somebody else who cleans up just as well to vouch for him (even if both are strangers to the victim), they are well over the biggest hurdle to making a sale. And if one or both of the
This is why Bush still has an approval rating in the high 20s-low 30s, and why Republicans still get votes and elected: Their supporters only look at the surface, listen to the carefully crafted rhetoric and presume meanings not intended. Supporters hear an endorsement by someone in the media and believe that if someone famous, popular in their "culture," a Pat Buchanan (or David Gergen or Ed Rogers or Fred Barnes or Mary Matalin or any other face that has been "media-tested") says "he's really a good guy," "a devoted public servant," a brush with the law must be some mistake. Or "political" (by "them damned liberals") because "he would never do anything wrong or illegal," "knowingly." Even if he's caught dead to rights.
Albert Brooks never said truer words:
It's human nature, to some extent, to think that criminals have to look, well, like criminals.
Whenever some heinous crime has been committed and the police make an arrest (like this latest case in Michigan where Stephen Grant has been arrested for strangling his wife and dismembering her body), the media shoves a microphone into the faces of the perpetrators' neighbors, friends and family. Their comments are remarkably similar, with them invariably being shocked by the arrest because the guy was "so nice," "quiet," "friendly and polite," "helpful" - Grant's sister said he was, "the most docile person I saw my whole life."
We heard the jury's spokesman, Denis Collins, practically apologize for convicting Libby. There was a "tremendous amount of sympathy" for Libby, and some believed he was being made a "fall guy" by his White House superiors:
Some jurors wondered why Libby was being singled out, Collins said. Other Bush administration officials had disclosed CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to reporters as part of an effort to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson, and his criticism of the case for war in Iraq. Yet those other officials never faced criminal charges.
"It was said a number of times: What are we doing with this guy? Where's [White House political aide Karl] Rove, where are these other guys?" Libby, Collins said, "was the fall guy."
Another one of the jurors was on Hardball today, and she said flat out that she wouldn't want to see Libby go to prison, because "he seems like such a nice man." She was the juror that cried when the verdict was read, because she felt bad for Libby, and his wife. [Kate O'Beirne appeared on the program, too, making a galling case for a presidential pardon.]
I'm reminded of something Paula Poundstone said when Dick Cheney shot his friend, Harry Whittington, in the face while they were quail hunting:
What is it about these people, Republicans, that the victims are moved to apologize to them?
At Townhall.com, Pat Buchanan writes:
The conviction of Scooter Libby on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice is first of all a human tragedy.
A man who served his country at the highest level, who sat in every morning at the senior staff meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, has been dishonored and disgraced, and will be disbarred. Unless his conviction is overturned, or he is pardoned, Libby will go to prison. His life will end with an obituary that declares in its headline and lead paragraph that he was a convicted Dick Cheney aide.
"A human tragedy"?
Is he kidding with this hyperbole?
Pat Buchanan and all of the Republicans who fanned out across the media today to spin the Libby convictions as "no big deal," and deserving of a pardon, need to be reminded that the only reason that Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer, Mary Matalin, Karen Hughes, Bob Novak, Richard Armitage, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush aren't facing criminal charges of treason and conspiracy to commit treason is because Scooter Libby obstructed Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation. THAT'S why Libby was prosecuted, and a jury determined that Libby was guilty of both the perjury and the obstruction of justice.
If Libby is pardoned, if he doesn't get some serious prison time, we'll need to stop pretending that the U.S. is a nation of laws, or that we even bother to attempt equal justice under the law. We have it completely backwards in this country - if anybody shouldn't be eligible for a presidential pardon, it should be those at the highest echelons of government. They're the role models.
If Libby is pardoned, we might as well hang the democracy up and anoint Bush-Cheney, Royal for life, because if there aren't serious penalties leveled against Libby, there will be nothing preventing a President from breaking the law and subverting the Constitution.
Speaking of the Constitution, I'm not a great proponent of amending it, but I could get behind an amendment that would prohibit a President from pardoning anyone in his or her administration for actions performed in the service of the President. Or anyone outside of the administration who committed a crime that benefitted the President or his/her political party.