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Conservatives Richard Falknor on 17 Feb 2009 07:43 pm

Ramos, Compean, Libby: the Bush Sorrow-and-Pity Legacy

Among major White House missteps conservatives found really grating during the second term of former president George W. Bush, two stand out in particular: the failure to pardon Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, and the failure promptly to commute the sentences of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

Legendarily discreet former vice president Dick Cheney is said — according to today’s New York Daily News here — to have —

“. . . repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration – even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.

‘He tried to make it happen right up until the very end,’ one Cheney associate said.

In multiple conversations, both in person and over the telephone, Cheney tried to get Bush to change his mind.”

The Associated Press here reports that – –

“Attorneys say two former Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a drug smuggler and covering it up have been released from prison.

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean each had their sentences of more than 10 years commuted earlier this year by former President George W. Bush. Their commutation becomes effective March 20, and both will serve out the remainder of their sentences in home confinement.”

These presidential failures helped tear (listen to Rapid Response Media video here) the remnant of the fabric of trust Mr. Bush once had with the conservative base.  These two Bush missteps were trust costs as opposed to his most recent fiscal costs the then-president laid on the American people ranging from the PEPFAR legislation to last fall’s Bailout Bill.

As we conservatives now face more highly sophisticated and organized forces than ever before, we need to get it right next time.

That means we don’t go along with, or fail to ask the hard questions of whatever candidates or party or campaign officials just because they try to sail under the Republican flag.

In Virginia, will the Bush legacy of disappointment continue? For example, former Bush consigliere Ed Gillespie will be heading here Robert F. McDonnell’s campaign for governor —

“Gillespie, a former lobbyist and a fixture in national Republican politics for two decades, will be involved in every aspect of strategy, policy development, communications and fundraising, according to senior campaign officials. The Fairfax County resident will also be a frequent surrogate for McDonnell across the state and nation.”

Conservatives should apply the eyes-wide-open test to the good Mr. Gillespie

Obviously he has more than a merely administrative role in the campaign — one could fairly say he is money-raiser and message-shaper-in-chief. He has a record of helping hike taxes in Virginia, he has a strong record in behalf of more open immigration, and he is, according to the Manchester Union Leader, on record in behalf of larger government.  There are Republicans who can smoothly argue that his way is the only path to victory, particularly in northern Virginia.  His could certainly be the best path to larger contributions from big business.  But is a Gillespie-crafted campaign the only kind of Republican victory Virginia conservatives can realistically expect?  And if so, would they be comfortable with a governorship reflecting those values?

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