Home / Should President Bush Apologize For the CIA Leak Scandal?

Should President Bush Apologize For the CIA Leak Scandal?

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Now that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, has been indicted and Harriet Miers withdrawn as a nominee for the United States Supreme Court, that circus that never ends called politics moves into a new phase. It should be no surprise to political observers that these two events occurred within such a short time span.

After the worst political week of his administration, President Bush would like nothing better than a classic “turning of the page”: new news, new events, new storylines for the press and public to gobble up and in doing view the White House more favorably. The first effort in that regard will likely be a very quick turnaround on a new Supreme Court nominee.

But will that be enough? The Bush administration enjoyed arguably historic levels of control over the press for more than four years. But with poll numbers hovering in the high thirties now and the White House facing ongoing trouble on multiple fronts – including the recent 2000th American soldier killed in Iraq – it remains to be seen if President Bush can regain that above-the-fray quality that has been referred to as the Bush Myth.

To borrow a term used by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with regard to Iraq, it’s likely going to be a long hard slog. The hallmarks of the Bush administration’s core strengths – decisive leadership, national security, and close ties to conservatives on social and other issues – have all taken significant hits this year. And a new Washington Post-ABC poll reveals that 55% of the American public believes that the indictment of Scooter Libby is indicative of broader ethical wrongdoing.

Some have suggested that President Bush “clean house” and bring in a new team of energized and highly competent aides and managers a la Howard Baker during President Ronald Reagan’s second term of office. Others advocate the nomination of a rightwing ideologue to the Supreme Court, which would in theory stir up the rightwing base and change the subject to a major showdown in the Senate with Democratic opponents.

But perhaps the “cheapest” way that the Bush administration can begin to turn the page is to apologize to the American public. President Bush operates within the tightest of inner circles, and Scooter Libby happened to have been a card-carrying member of the club. While there is the presumption of innocence for those accused of crimes, it’s very likely that at the very least Libby is guilty of lying to a federal grand jury. This, of course, will lead most to believe, as evidenced by the poll numbers, that there were other illegal or unethical activities going on that may or may not come out over the coming months and years.

No one knows what is going to happen. There may or may not be a major reexamination of why the United States invaded Iraq in the first place. There may or may not be more revelations and indictments in the CIA leak case.

What we do know is that the American public is surprisingly forgiving of public officials who ask for forgiveness and show a degree of humility. While this is not one of President Bush’s strengths, he may need to step outside of the box, his inner circle, and his comfort zone if he wishes to accomplish much over the remaining three years of his presidency.

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  • Apologize? For what? There was no crime committed here other than Libby’s false statements. All the administration did was contradict Joe Wilson’s proven lies.

  • So I imagine President Clinton shouldn’t have been impeached for his “false statements” then?

    Libby faces up to 30 years in prison for five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. We don’t know the truth about what really happened — how deep it went, and who might’ve been involved — because of Libby’s actions, and that’s why we are where we are.

    While Wilson’s report may not have been airtight, there’s no case to talk about “proven lies.” If this was the case, why did Libby and perhaps others plot to destroy his (and, allegedly, his CIA agent wife’s) reputation?

  • Nancy

    I would consider an apology by Smirk to be about as sincere as his BS about accepting responsibility for the FEMA hurricanes fiasco: cheap words with no need for any concrete actions behind them. He can apologize by letting his actions speak louder than his blowhard breath by following his own promise made earlier (and evaded since then) to clean house & get rid of Rove & the rest of the vultures he’s surrounded himself with. Until then, no apology is acceptable, as it will only be patently false.

  • For those who think that scooters actions are more a renegade vp cheif of staff that was unknown to the vice president is either republican, ignorant, or deaf, dumb and blind.

    This man scooter lied about what he knew about a crime whose source has been identified as coming from the white house. He is complete trash, a traitor to this country and any others who had a hand in this situation is also a traitor to this country. There is nothing in this case that suggests to anyone they should defend what happened. It is a deplorable, disgusting act against all Americans.

  • Michael — I agree that the one-man band theory is very unlikely, given what we know about the inner workings of the White House.

    Bush would likely do well to “clean house” for any number of reasons, not the least of which is to give his administration some energy and direction.

    From my perspective, of course, that might not be the thing I would most wish for.

  • Apologize? An apology would just be another lie. A sincere apology requires a conscience, and George W. Bush has no conscience.

  • Bill B

    Bush should apologize and here’s a pretty succinct quote from Paul Krugman in today’s NYT that sums it up as far as I’m concerned.

    Apologists can shout all they like that no laws were broken, that hardball politics is nothing new, or whatever. The fact remains that officials close to both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush leaked the identity of an undercover operative for political reasons. Whether or not that act was illegal, it was clearly unpatriotic.

    So there you have it. He should apologize because the actions of those within his administration go completely against what he professes to stand for; Truth, morality, and patriotism in the form of holding the welfare and security of our country above the interests of his partisan political interests. He’s a fraud if he doesn’t apologize. Come to think of it, he just a fraud.

  • Well said Bill and Paul.

  • Life just aint great these days if your name is George W. Bush, that’s for sure.

  • If Bush apologizes for this then he has to start apologizing for everything from the weather to dryer lint. And tedious though the never apologizing Bush was, the gratuitously apologizing version would be more irritating.


  • Dave Nalle

    Perhaps he should apologize when Krugman apologizes for his ongoing partisan hate campaign and all the lies and misrepresentations he’s made about the administration.


  • Bush should apoligize when Hell freezes over.

    Did Bush or Rove break any laws or rules??? What is there to apoligize for??? I think the ones who should apoligize are the Democrats.

  • Perhaps one is a president plagued by bad decisions, war, and scandal within the White House and the other is a damned fine columnist.

  • Yes, Anthony, the Democrats should apologize and disband already so we can finally and gloriously be left with a one-party state. We get it.

  • steve

    bush has nothing to apologize for. The democRATS have no moral values and like to piss away my hard earned tax dollars on worthless programs and people who do not want to help themselves!!! great idea Eric! Id love for half of america to wake up and smell the GOP coffee!

  • At least you admit that half the country is not GOP-ized, Steve.

  • Dave Nalle

    A damned fine columnist, Eric? Perhaps you should take a little trip to Donald Luskin’s seires of articles on Krugman at National Review. If your mind isn’t locked shut like so many on the left you might find your eyes opened.


  • RogerMDillon

    “There was no crime committed here other than Libby’s false statements. ”

    Wrong. there was also obstruction charges. Are you leaving that on accident or to make the case not look as bad.

    If anyone should apologize, it should be AG’s English teacher.

  • No, Eric, When did I say that the Democrats should disband???

    We need the DemocRat party to keep us in line. The two party system is much needed. But we do need to keep the Dems just a bit under us though.

    One Party State = Dictatorship, Communism or some other liberal idea.

  • Bill B

    I’m with you on one point.

    And tedious though the never apologizing Bush was, the gratuitously apologizing version would be more irritating.

    It almost certainly would be politcally calculated and hollow.

    I have read some criticism of Krugman. This particular point is not applicable. BTW one is a columnist and the other is POTUS. Big difference.

    RE # 15,

    Last I checked the repubs control the purse strings and spending is as wild and irresponsible as ever if not worse. If you ran your household budget like they are running the country you wouldn’t be able to apply for bankruptcy protection they eliminated.

    At least you’d be living in a cardboard box while most of what you made would be padding the coffers of multi national behemoths.

    Come to think of it, you’d be getting your just deserts if you spent the way they do.


    p.s. I got a bridge to nowhere in Alaska for sale. Cheap.

  • Bill B

    btw, many thanks to whoever had a hand in straightening out the text blocking dilemma. Working great now!

    But it was freeeeeakin’ me out.

  • The President apologize? Why bother. I want his mother to apologize ——- for giving birth to him.

  • btw, Robert Novak should be shot for treason.

  • Nancy

    If Smirk were to apologize correctly & sincerely, he’d first have to have Rove, Wolfowitz, Rumsfield, & Cheney throttled & then commit hara-kiri on national television. His one wretched life isn’t enough to apologize for 2000+ dead Americans, not to mention anybody else. And he obviously doesn’t believe in hell, for all his sanctimonious lip service to religion, or he’d never behave the way he has, knowing he’s going to have to be footing a very heavy bill when he finally corks off, and the Lord don’t listen to spin.


    HEll TO da fuckin YEAH!

  • Dave Nalle

    >>p.s. I got a bridge to nowhere in Alaska for sale. Cheap.<< That bridge was anything but cheap. Dave

  • If your mind isn’t locked shut like so many on the left you might find your eyes opened.

    dave nalle, IRONY MAN!!!

  • How many people should apologize for the vote they cast a year ago today? And let us not forget that 51% of the female voters did not cast their vote for Mr. Bush. Once again, men rose to the occasion and thought with their manhood. Oh and that number is 62,040,606.

  • Dave Nalle

    Those of us who voted for Mike Badnarik can sit back and sneer at you all from our lofty perch of righteousness.


  • i laughed out loud yesterday when i heard triumph the insult dog refer to libertarians as conservatives who watch porn.

  • LOL, Mark! Triumph is living proof that most truth is spoken in jest.

  • Dave Nalle

    A little porn watching would likely help immensely with the problems of the religious right.


  • Thus the popularity of the truthfully hilarious Daily Show, Silas.

  • By the way: I have no sympathy for anyone who voted for Bush in 2004 but now regrets it.

    And Nalle: You defend this administration to the point that it’s safe to say you’re in bed with them (porn watching or no). It’s unfair to hop out whenever you feel it convenient.

  • Save a politician, send him a porn. I wonder if we can get Larry Flynt to donate a subscription to Hustler for each uber sonservative in the Congress. Oh, some of them would have to be sent Mandate (no, not the one that sent Bush back to the White House, silly), but we’re not supposed to know about THOSE Republicans. Come out, come out, wherever you are, ladies.

    “Dovyerai no provyerai”

  • MCH

    Comment #18…re AG’s English teacher…LMAO, RMD!

  • There are rumblings from some conservatives that Karl Rove needs to apologize or even leave the White House.

    Thoughts on that?

  • Bush’s whole administration is based on lies and corruption,so anything he would say would just be B.S.I voted for him the first time,but saw what a retard he is and how poorly he reacts to
    any situation,he would probably just pardon
    ol’Scooter anyways!This is what we get for voting in a pet rock!

  • Karl Rove should just continue doing his job until Fitzgerald and Co. make a final decision on his place in this investigation. Detest him as I do, the man still deserves to maintain the presumption of innocence.

  • These are conservatives worried that it will “look bad.”

  • Karl Rove should be at the bottom of the list when it comes to things making them look bad. The entire G.W. Bush Presidency should be enough to set the neocon cause back 100 years.

  • MCH

    Eric B;

    I agree with Nancy in comment 24, any kind of apology from these scumbags would be worthless. I’d prefer to see them all drafted and sent to the front lines in Iraq, since they think it’s such a great idea.

    Might help make-up for their ducking out of Vietnam, too.