Bush says Cheney furious over refusal to pardon Libby
George W. Bush said yesterday that Vice President Dick Cheney angrily confronted him over Bush’s decision not to pardon a former vice presidential aide over his role in the case of the leaked identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
The former president, in an interview aired on NBC’s “Today’’ show, said Cheney was angry that he only commuted the sentence of I. Lewis Libby, convicted of lying during the leak investigation.
Bush’s appearance came as he begins promoting his memoir, “Decision Points.’’ In the book, Bush recounts that a furious Cheney told him: “I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield.’’
Bush said he worried the incident would fracture his friendship with Cheney. But he said: “I’m pleased to report we are friends today.’’
In his new memoir, the president, who in cockier times could not think of a single mistake he had made, lists many. He counts the years without a post-9/11 attack as his transcendent achievement. He says the economic calamity he handed off to President Obama was “one ugly way to end a presidency.’’
In retirement, Bush has been largely absent from the national scene. He has given the occasional innocuous speech, tended to his presidential center and helped with Haiti earthquake relief. “Decision Points’’ puts him back in the public eye. He will be all over TV this week and beyond, from news and opinion shows to Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno.
But times have changed. Hard-driving Tea Party adherents, a post-Bush movement, helped to power a Republican takeover of the House and gains in the Senate in the recent elections, seemingly light-years from the “compassionate conservatism’’ that Bush said he hoped to bring to the White House from Texas a decade ago.
For all the sour struggles of his time in Washington, Bush pushed Congress to spend billions more on education and ushered in prescription drug coverage for seniors in a major expansion of health care, now overshadowed by Obama’s overhaul. Those measures, too, are out of step with the Republican majority coming in.
He’s not out to trash Obama in his new book. The Democrat, in his 2008 presidential campaign, criticized Bush for taking the United States to war in Iraq, for letting the effort in Afghanistan flag, and for presiding over an economy sinking into the Great Recession. Bush turns the other cheek, merely praising Obama’s decision to add troops in Afghanistan.
Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Tim Scott of South Carolina, who won endorsements by Sarah Palin and support from Tea Party movement activists, are part of a newly named 22-member team charged with crafting new rules and smoothing the GOP’s shift from minority to majority.
The team, led by Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, met last night and was to meet again today.
It includes several veterans such 15-term Representative David Dreier of California, in line for his second stint as head of the Rules Committee; Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, in line to head the Budget Committee; and Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, the GOP campaign committee chief.
Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, who came to Congress 16 years ago, the last time Republicans seized control of the House, is part of the group. Two other freshmen, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha Roby of Alabama, are also on the roster.
Walden said he didn’t choose the members based on whether they were supported by the conservative-libertarian Tea Party movement. “It’s a nice cross-section of our Republican conference,’’ he said.