OKAY, so, you're busy, I'm busy, we're all busy this time of year, and it took a couple days before I had time to consider Dana Perino's Night-Before-Xmas (okay, two days Before) explaination of that mangled Pardon: that neither the Acting President nor Fred "Forty Years In Politics And I Wind Up Getting Dicked By George W. Bush?" Fielding knew enough about the Toussie Crime Family contribution to Team Bush to recognize "the appearance of impropriety". I think that consideration took six seconds. Six is my estimate, anyway; in a couple of eyelash battings, tops, it became clear that we have finally cleared the last hurdle in the Bush administration's eight-year struggle to develop a language which appears, for all intents and purposes, to be a variant of English, but which has no cognitive or semantic function at all.
Here's a rough outline of those six seconds:
0.0-1.8 sec.: instantaneous grasping, without conceptualizing, as a Gestalt, one might say, the idea that someone has suggested not just a theoretical limit to the Bush administration's capacity to commit 'improprieties', but that this theoretical limit could be reached by a concern over the appearance of impropriety.
1.9-2.6 sec.: sympathetic nervous system assesses neurological information, prevents skeleton from leaping out of body.
2.7-4.5 sec.: quick, though not instantaneous, realization that the statement actually manages to transcend comparison, and is therefore non-, trans-, or anti-lingual; i.e., one may not in fact say, "The Bush administration is to the suggestion of impropriety as x is to y", because we have nothing left that could possibly begin to suggest a means of conveying the irony there, let alone coming anywhere near resembling it....
4.6-5.1 sec.: ...and this, despite the fact that a half-second's reflection is all that is required to realize that the field for such comparisons has never been larger, in no small part due to the moral leadership of the Acting President and his Republican cronies. In fact it's difficult to name a single famous person in this country who is not, let's say in the main famous for some sort of embarrassing excess, and most likely several.
5.2-6.0 sec.: leading, somewhat paradoxically, to an intuited recognition that none of these, nor, in fact, all of them put together, could serve as a metaphor for this administration's Borg-like relationship with Impropriety. Not bug-witted tundra dwellers suddenly cast as Vice-Presidential candidates despite failing to name a single daily newspaper, not national news anchor chairs filled by self-tanner models and people with crippling speech impediments, not even Joes the Plumbers who are neither Joes, nor Plumbers, nor familiar enough with current events to pass a junior high pop quiz yet ascend to the national political stage, however fleetingly. We could construct a wall of ironic ineptitude and butt-nakid greed in this country high enough to hold off a melted polar ice cap, maybe two, without much effort, but all in vain. The Bush administration is not to the appearance of impropriety what Plaxico Burress is to handgun safety, "Jeff Gannon" to military service, nor Phil Gramm to economics advice. The latter are ironies which exist on a human scale. The idea that the Bush administration would be forced into a moment's fucking reflection over the "appearance of impropriety" is simply beyond our experience, even as extended by the Hubble telescope, sub-atomic particle acceleration, and televangelism.
Neither is it sufficient to suggest that Ms Perino herself should have experienced some instant response of a physical or spiritual nature: head exploding, convulsive laughter, Plague of Boils. Though here we must admit that a mere passing familiarity with the history of public relations work, the modern Republican party, or simply the general high regard placed on personal honesty in this country sufficiently prepares one for any possible combinations of English (or, in this case, English-like) words coming out of a White House Press Secretary.
There is, of course, another component to this: the incoming Bush administration's plan (hatched, we think, in 1999, like the Iraq war, the Kyoto snub, and the decision to keep George W. as far from microphones as possible) to use Pardons as one tine of its three-pronged offensive to fork Bill Clinton and thus take the spotlight off its initial incompetence so it could work on perfecting it.
And here's the thing, which you may recall: the whole thing's cut-and-dried; people howled about Ford's pardon of Nixon, and there was even a brief mention of the first Bush's more numerous, more egregious, and directly self-serving list (Clinton would up disbarred, you recall; George H. W. F. Bush wound up precluding the indictment, trial, and serious stretch in Leavenworth he'd deserved since 1985). But the power is absolute, though this did not stop the Congressman from One Gerrymandered District to my West, Daniel Lee "Two Handicap" Burton, from chairing Congressional hearings. And this is the same party which insists that Money is the freest form of Free Speech, not to mention the most attractive, and that the modern Presidency has suffered considerable harm from the pernicious idea that there are two other branches of government.
The Grand Old Hypocrisy of the thing is a helluva lot more damaging to our politics than the chance that somebody, or fifteen somebodies, might manage to buy themselves a pardon, which, for that matter, is pretty mild even as a form of corruption, since a Pardon is a one-off; it's lobbying interests which are the gift that keeps on giving. The proper response to Bush I pardoning all his Iran/Contra co-criminals wasn't a Congressional investigation, it was a general recognition of the foul stench that resides at the core of the Bush Crime Family, and a vow never to put another one in public office. Sure, Hindsight's 20/20, but Common Sense can still keep you from being run over by a bus.
Who do they think they have left to kid? Laura Bush? She and Condimelda were sent out Sunday to confabulate a version of the Bush II legacy that doesn't include the words "nadir" and "shitbag", presumably on the grounds that no gentleman would throw a shoe at a lady. Who're they kiddin'? Issue the fucking pardon now, or don't, but shut th' fuck up. Getting all prissy about it at this point is like curling up in the fetal position and imagining it's January 2001 all over again. Which, come to think of it, is a fitting legacy, just not one the rest of us can be forced to share this time.