Late Night: Bush’s Version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Every memoir is a tissue of omission and evasion; memoirs by public figures are especially unreliable. What’s remarkable about “Decision Points” is how frequently and casually it leaves out facts, large and small, whose absence draws more attention than their inclusion would have. In his account of the 2000 election, Bush neglects to mention that he lost the popular vote. He refers to the firing, in 2002, of his top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, but not to the fact that it came immediately after Lindsey violated the Administration’s optimistic line by saying that the Iraq war could cost as much as two hundred billion dollars. In a brief recounting of one of the central scandals of his Presidency, the Administration’s outing of the intelligence officer Valerie Plame, Bush doesn’t acknowledge that two senior White House aides, Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, alerted half a dozen reporters to her identity.
In fact, Dubya and his ghostwriters’ version of the Plame-CIA outing is even more curiously incurious than Packer suggests. Condensing the lengthy investigation and Libby’s trial to roughly a paragraph, Bush faithfully cites the GOP talking point that Richard Armitage was Robert Novak’s source in exposing Plame, so special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald shouldn’t have bothered investigating anything or anyone else… and then blithely notes that he refused to pardon the convicted Libby because his lawyers unanimously agreed the verdicts were justified.
A chief executive whose mental gears were engaged might have thought to himself, “Hmm, wait a second. Why would Scooter lie, to the point of obstructing justice, if he wasn’t involved in the leak to Novak?” He might have been even more suspicious when his vice president compared Libby to “a soldier on the battlefield” — implying that Libby’s crimes were committed on behalf of the administration.
Unless, of course, Bush already knew all that. What was it that note said about “the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder” — you know, the one with the crossed-out reference to “the Pres” suggesting that Bush himself had told Libby to take a fall to protect
Karl Rove other administration officials? In which case it’s not a matter of incuriosity at all, but consciously evading questions Bush & Co. desperately don’t want asked, much less answered.
It brings to mind the line from Joe Orton’s play, Loot, where a corrupt Scotland Yard detective describes an unspoken police rule: “Never search your own backyard; you might find what you’re looking for.”