The Quadrennial CYA Quest

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On Chris Matthews’ Sunday Gaborama, an icicle of insight:

Howard Fineman drops a 10 megaton bomb, ready to detonate if only anyone notices. (Like that’s gonna happen!)

“You want to cover over your two terms with a third term the way Ronald Reagan did with George HW Bush.”

In other words, every Republican Presidential Administration since 1980 has been either a criminal enterprise, or a cover-up of a criminal enterprise. Thus was every Republican presidential administration for the past 40 years a criminal enterprise or a cover-up — since Gerald Ford couldn’t actually cover anything up after Nixon’s tapes were outed, he did the next best thing by pardoning the criminal. Oh, and he left us with this legacy:

But to Fineman’s point, there was this:

Lawrence E. Walsh concludes his account of prosecuting the Iran-contra affair on a decidedly sour note: ”What set Iran-contra apart from previous political scandals was the fact that a cover-up engineered in the White House of one President and completed by his successor prevented the rule of law from being applied to the perpetrators of criminal activity of constitutional dimension.” ”Firewall” is about how and why Walsh failed, for which he blames himself a little, Congress and conservative judges somewhat, but above all Reagan Administration officials who constructed a ”firewall” around the President after the illegal arms sales to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to the contras were first revealed in November 1986.

… According to Walsh, Attorney General Edwin Meese was the cover-up’s architect, but he was assisted by Vice President George Bush; the chief of staff, Donald Regan; the Director of Central Intelligence, William Casey; [Caspar] Weinberger; and other top administration officials.

and this:

Six years after the arms-for-hostages scandal began to cast a shadow that would darken two Administrations, President Bush today granted full pardons to six former officials in Ronald Reagan’s Administration, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

Mr. Weinberger was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress about his knowledge of the arms sales to Iran and efforts by other countries to help underwrite the Nicaraguan rebels, a case that was expected to focus on Mr. Weinberger’s private notes that contain references to Mr. Bush’s endorsement of the secret shipments to Iran.

… But in a single stroke, Mr. Bush swept away one conviction, three guilty pleas and two pending cases, virtually decapitating what was left of Mr. Walsh’s effort, which began in 1986. Mr. Bush’s decision was announced by the White House in a printed statement after the President left for Camp David, where he will spend the Christmas holiday.

And, of course, the mystery of mysteries, the grandaddy of modern GOP priorities and tactics, the conspiracy theory nobody complains is a conspiracy theory, really — this.

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