Bush Sings of Libby

March 11, 2008. This afternoon I noticed on the MSNBC website, under “video highlights,” the headline “Bush goes country, sings about Libby.”

Even before clicking on the headline I thought it disturbing.

Remember “Scooter” Libby? He was chief of staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, the man who selected the personnel in Bush’s first-term cabinet, that cabinet seeded with neoconservatives who systematically dispensed disinformation to generate public support for the attack on Iraq. That cabal that has slickly left the scene of the crime and moved on, somehow retaining credibility as mainstream media commentators and respectable academics—Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, etc.—or dug in its heels within the administration, agitating for the bombing of Iran (Elliott Abrams).

Libby and his boss were infuriated when their lie about Saddam Hussein’s supposed effort to acquire uranium from Niger was exposed by Joseph Wilson, and so attacked and punished the honest former U.S. diplomat by “outing” his CIA wife. For lying about his role in that episode, Libby was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison before Bush pardoned him.

That wasn’t very funny, actually. The judicial system acted to punish a top official for an egregious violation of the law, and a president discredited among the American people and recognized globally as responsible for war crimes—a president who disdains and ignores the rule of law—let him off the hook.

But NBC’s infotainment moment makes light of the Libby episode, already receding from indignant public memory. In the video clip, the Today Show’s Ann Curry cheerily begins: “President Bush showed his lighter side over the weekend taking to the microphone and stealing the show in the annual Gridiron club dinner on Saturday. Listen to this.” Ha ha ha ha ha.

(There follows an audio clip, to the tune of “Green, Green Grass of Home.’ Bush in an off-key arguably drunken voice sings: ‘Down the lane I look and here comes Scooter, finally freed of the prosecutor…’ [and after some inaudible material:] “…brown, brown grass of home.” Makes me remember Bush’s nickname for Karl Rove: “Turd Blossom.”)

“Ha ha ha,” chortles Ann. “The president’s singing debut was reportedly a shock to the hundreds of residents who were just expecting him to speak at the event. The lyrics were written and customized for the president. His performance brought down the house!”

Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera and Willard Scott all join in the fun, laughing at this “karaoke” and the president’s cowboy hat.

This is the TV channel that features “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” offering about the best critical thinking the system can tolerate on prime time. But then it offers this—the smirking frat-boy president mocking honest prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and boasting of his own role of freeing the convicted criminal Scooter from serious consequences of his actions. And it adds affectionate Bush-promoting commentary.

About that song—“Green, Green Grass of Home.” I sing it myself; it’s very moving. It starts as the celebration of a nostalgic homecoming, but by the end you realize the singer has been condemned to death by the legal system. He awakens from his dream of going home, seeing his mama and papa, kissing his “sweet Mary, hair of gold, and lips like cherries,” and then tells you what’s really going to happen.

Then I awake and look around me

At the four grey walls that surround me
And I realize I was only dreamin’
There’s a guard and there’s a sad old padre,
Arm and arm we’ll walk at daybreak —
Again I’ll touch the green, green grass of home

It’s a song about doom and death, but also about a kind of redemption. Bush sings a farcical version to celebrate the impunity his dictates confer, the compassion he systematically denies. Encircling thousands of detainees with grey walls, subjecting them to torture, he frees poor Scooter from the prosecutor. Where does Scooter wind up? On the “brown, brown grass of home.” Ha ha ha ha ha! Very funny indeed. That’s about as funny as those photos of Iraqis smeared with feces in Abu Ghraib.

Why would NBC want to smear itself with this brown, brown thing? Why would Ann, Matt, Meredith, and Willard all cooperate in this prettification of the Libby Affair? Because their editor told them, “Let’s put a light-hearted spin on this story?” Because they’re incapable of realizing that this light-hearted treatment covers the crimes of the Cheney cabal, discourages critical reasoning about the Libby case, and rewards Bush for his cavalier commutation of Libby’s sentence?

Totally disgusting. I wish Keith would comment on this.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu. Read other articles by Gary.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. D.R. Munro said on March 13th, 2008 at 7:07am #

    That was the moment I lost complete faith in George Bush as President. The moment I got word of Libby’s pardon.

    I honestly thought it must have been a joke, some sort of sarcastic quip. To think he had the audacity to spit in the face of the legal system, the system he is sworn to uphold . . . it is disgraceful – no, it is more than disgraceful, it is insulting as an American and human being.

    And yet for some people, that wasn’t enough.

  2. Don Hawkins said on March 13th, 2008 at 9:17am #

    “His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, this was a man”

  3. hp said on March 13th, 2008 at 9:32am #

    Reminds one a little of Bill Clinton pardoning Marc Rich, the dual citizen Israeli spy. Why by golly gee, I believe the dual citizen Israeli, Scooter Libby, was Marc Rich’s lawyer.
    I never met a dual citizen Israeli spy traitor who wouldn’t be pardoned.
    Hang in there Pollard, your train’s a coming.

  4. D. R. Munro said on March 13th, 2008 at 12:02pm #

    I must thank you HP, because until a short while ago I had not connected the dots and found the information about so many high-ranking dual citizen Israelis.

    This information is so well hidden from people.

  5. hp said on March 13th, 2008 at 5:26pm #

    My pleasure, D.R. Usually people don’t connect the dots because they won’t or because they are cowed by all things anti-semitic.
    The list is impressive indeed. Imagine the highest enforcer in the nation, a man who may possibly be in a position to arrest anyone, even the President, for ‘Homeland secutity’ reasons, and you’ll find the head of Homeland Security, dual citizen ISRAELI Michael Chertoff, along with the highest prosecutor in the nation, US Attorney General Mukasey, also a duel citizen ISRAELI.

  6. hp said on March 13th, 2008 at 5:50pm #

    Perhaps I might write a book: “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Dual Citizen ISRAELIS, But Were Afraid To Ask.”
    First, I no doubt would have to find a publisher out side of this country, (think Walt & Mearsheimer) for reasons which shout anti-semitism even though they would be true in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That’s in our free faces like a cream pie too, isn’t it?
    Second, I’d have to procure a gallon of ink and a ream of paper because I’d be writing dual citizen ISRAELI names until my fingers dropped off.
    Anyone who wishes a preview simply go to Google and type in the oxymoron: dual citizen Israelis in the USA.
    Then make sure you have some stomach medicine and aspirin handy.
    Have fun!

  7. robert1014 said on March 13th, 2008 at 5:54pm #

    Franky, our society is decadent and dying. I don’t mean we’re decadent because of our sexual licentiousness or greed, but because of our mindlessness, our heedless giggling at “light hearted spin,” our insatiable focus on the trivial even as the economy fails, as mass murder is committed around the world, as people starve, and as science and truth-seeking are dismissed in favor of myths, superstition, politically motivated lies and obfuscation that steals from us our capacity to know the world as it is rather that as we wish it to be.

  8. hp said on March 13th, 2008 at 6:06pm #

    “A man who can be made to believe absurdities, can be made to commit atrocities.”

  9. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2008 at 4:41am #

    Nothing like a little robert1014 and Voltaire to get you thinking in the morning.

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:24am #

    f..king quotation, hp.


    Should have started 25 minutes ago, @ 9AM EST.

  11. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 14th, 2008 at 6:58am #

    For the computer-flashes,

    Apple Quicktime Version worked jus’ fine yesterday before 6PM PST.