Jan 18, 2009

Going, Going, Almost Gone

I understand that the White House has been vacated by the Bushes, who have gone to Camp David until the Inauguration. On that morning they, along with the Obamas, will be hosted at a tea in the White House by Senator Diane Feinstein, one of the pains in "Obama's Achilles Heel" and also the person in charge of the Inauguration ceremonies.

I would imagine that the only thing left to damage the outgoing chief executive's reputation is the stuff of the pardons he will sign between now and Tuesday morning. A Friday--especially on a holiday weekend--has always been the usual time for the announcement of skullduggery during the last eight years, but mum's the word so far. Anyone want to take bets on when he will release the pardons? Maybe he is using the tranquility of Camp David to finally make up his mind. Maybe he will sleep the whole weekend and forget to do it? Maybe he is so proud and ensconced in his self-congratulatory bubble that he thinks pardons will not be needed?

In a great post on his No Comment blog at Harper's online, entitled "An epitaph for the Bush years," Scott Horton uses as his starting point a passage from St. Augustine, which I remember reading back in my Catholic High School in Parkersburg, WV. It was a "civics" class. Remember those?

If it does not do justice, what is the government but a great criminal enterprise? For what are gangs of criminals but petty little governments? The pack is a group which follows the orders of its leader according to a social compact of sorts, sharing the spoils along the rules upon which they agree. Through a process of gradual accretion, the gang may acquire bodies and territory, establish itself in some place, and soon be possessed of all the attributes of statehood—then it may be known as a state, acquiring this title not by being any less avaricious but rather by having achieved impunity. Alexander the Great’s conversation with a pirate he had captured reflects this well. The king asked what possessed him to infest the sea as he did, and the pirate replied: “No differently from you when you pursue your crimes in the world. I act with a small ship, so I am called a pirate. You command a fleet and are called emperor.” –Augustine of Hippo, De civitate dei contra paganos lib iv, capp iii- iv (ca. 410)(S.H. transl.) in vol. 2 of the Loeb Classical Library edition, pp. 12, 16.

"Having achieved impunity" so far, I wonder what this manchild's fate in the near term will be?

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