Friday, December 12, 2008

The Presidential Pardon Party -- Happy Holidays!

The last act of the strange dark drama in the White House?

Don't count on it.

Think of it as a office gift exchange. 74

Two almost identical young men stood waiting outside the Oval Office in a line with several dozen more, every one an almost perfect copy. All aspiring young attorneys from K Street or elsewhere, they seemed to have arrived from a call to central casting. The hair cut of each one was conservative, identically short and stylish. The well scrubbed, boyish faces all emphasized the overpriced, tailored suits and the multi-hundred dollar silk ties. The practiced mood of subdued reverence was one obviously mastered for missions such as this one.

“Are they doing this in alphabetical order?” the younger of the two asked, turning to face the man next to his position in the line.

His slightly older friend whispered an answer. “Sort of alphabetical, I guess. They started at about 10 AM with Jeb, Harriet Meiers and a list of secret pardons from Cheney. A big bound book of Wall Street names took an hour after that -- we’ll never know who was in there. They did Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham early this morning, than a bunch of rapid fire ‘B’s’ -- you know, Bolton, Blackwater, Blackwell, and Brownie, et cetera. Giuliani and Rumsfeld came as twin drag queens.”

“Michael Scanlon and Tom DeLay’s attorney were here early yesterday. But, after those two, they did Bob Ney and Ralph Reed. An attorney even got the gay guy, Gannon, pardoned. His lawyer didn’t have much of a cash bundle, so I figure they must have had a little dirt of some kind. I guess the male prostitution business isn’t so lucrative anymore.” he continued.

The door opened momentarily to discharge a small group of the previous supplicants. The line inched forward as another small group of the young attorneys entered. The younger of the two quietly peeked through the crack for a glimpse at what was awaiting him when his turn arrived.

The scene was a surreal theater.

All the normal furniture of the Oval Office had been removed, replaced with garish things suggesting screen props from an 1950’s version of Alice in Wonderland. The place was filled with potted ferns and roses. Geese, goats and gerbils seemed to be rushing around in the open area, each contributing its voice to the clamor. Providing background music, a quartet costumed as Cheshire Cats with banjos and harps struggled along with a faint timbre of what might have been some cheerful Transylvanian folk dance had it been produced with more suitable instruments.

A single drummer, dressed as the traditional hooded figure of “Death,” beat out a melancholy, yet consolidating rhythm on a solitary snare held by a suspiciously decorated leather strap around his neck and shoulder. His drumming seemed to inspire the animals, at least the geese, to attempt to synchronize their squawking with the beat.

The President was seated at one end of the room on an elaborate sort of medieval chair. He was dressed in a theatrical lime green tuxedo with tails. Obviously inebriated, even though still early morning, he slumped with the detachment of a depressed imperial indifference to the events in the room. He wore a great, green top hat, probably made of foam rubber, adorned with rhinestones and peacock feathers in a long flowing plume.

A troop of immense, bare chested wrestlers had just completed their performance. Staffers were hurriedly ushering them out the far door. A dance team of young women dressed as Vestal Virgins waited impatiently for a signal to begin the next entertainment act. Some had already begun to throw rose petals onto floor at the center of the room.

Several young men from the same waiting line were in the Oval Office moving respectfully around what seemed to be a Bush administration version of the “stations of the cross.”

Wide eyed, the young lobbyist attorney again turned to his more experienced acquaintance, puzzled. “What in God’s name is going on in there?”

His friend answered calmly. “Relax. If you’d been here last time, you would understand everything. I spoke to a guy from the Chief of Staff’s office yesterday. It seems that the Bush wanted to avoid the Berlin Bunker atmosphere for the pardoning ceremony. The President choreographed this whole thing himself.”

Again, the first young lawyer stumbled. “But what does all this mean?”

His acquaintance answered. “In 2004 the motive was the Crusades. This year, it’s the Mad Hatter. Didn’t your boss tell you anything about this?”

The younger man responded, glancing down at the huge suitcase of 1,000 Euro notes handcuffed to his wrist, “All he told me was to make sure that the currency counting machine was stopped after the batch before me before I put all these Euros in it. He said it might not look like it, but that the exact amount of cash was important. He said it was something like a contribution to the Presidential Library Fund or something.”

His friend offered, “Well, it’s good that you’ve got that part straight. What happens in the room is simple enough. You go directly to the Attorney General -- he’s the one dressed in the Supreme Court robes. He will give you a parking ticket with your boss’s name on it.”

“After that, you take the ticket to the tall guy over by the windows. He’s playing the role of the Great Confessor. He’s the one dressed up as a medieval abbot. He’ll ask you if your client wants to voluntarily confess to the charges on the ticket. He means your boss, of course. You raise your hand and say ‘Yes, Great Confessor. My client confesses that he is truly guilty as charged.’ At that point, all the judicial stuff is done.”

“Then put all your Euro’s in the currency counter in front of Paulson.”

He could see Secretary of the Treasury sitting on a great wooden throne, elevated above the remainder of the room. Costumed as an extravagant courtier, he was heavily made up with bizarre cosmetics. Flamboyant lipstick had enlarged the outline of his mouth to reach from ear to ear suggesting a threatening psychopathy. Every detail of the man’s appearance was darkly grotesque.

“Let his little elf there in front of the throne run all the cash through the counting machine. When it’s done, he will whisper the amount in Paulson’s ear. Paulson is the one made up as the Exchequer for the Queen of Hearts. They’ll throw your boss’s, uh, donation in that big pot, and the ‘Exchequer’ will nod at the President.”

Astonished, the first young lawyer asked, “And then?”

His friend answered, “And then the Mad Hatter will wave his hand and the bunch from the Justice Department will issue your boss’s blanket pardon. You want to slowly and reverently back away -- withdraw ceremoniously toward this same door. Bowing subserviently wouldn’t hurt.”

The newer man asked, “What’s the parking ticket’s part in all of this?”

His more experienced associate responded, “That’s important. Blanket pardons can’t be issued without an admission of guilt. Now, we both know that the exact details of the, uh, ‘guilt’ involved here could hardly bear the light of day, so confessing to the parking ticket is a way to cover everything. Think of it as a symbolic act of contrition. Once you confess in your boss’s behalf, the pardon becomes legal. Of course, it centers on the confession to the parking violation, but, once that’s in the bag, the blanket pardon covers everything else. Slick, huh?”

The young man whispered back, “This is nuts. Does anyone on the, I mean, on the outside have any idea what’s going on here?”

His friend answered, also in a low voice, “No, of course not. You’d better believe it’s better that way. This has been going on a for a couple of days now, but the news black out is holding. Murdoch and the rest of the media CEO’s are scheduled for later today.”

He continued, “I plan to record as much as possible on this belt buckle I got through the security screen. I’ll blackmail my boss if his pardon goes through. I’m sure he’s already budgeted enough to pay me off. After all, he is a K Street lobbyist, right?”

“Wow. I work for an investment banker. They’re a little meaner than K Street guys. You know, a little more violent and pragmatic.” He paused for a moment, clearly deep in thought, then continued. “Gosh. All these people getting pardons. They’ve been running everything for eight years.” He mused pensively. “If they’re all gone, you know, pardoned and everything and gone on back to their regular lives, who’s going to run the government?”

This post proves that pardons can be fun! If you'd like to try it yourself -- with just a few actual facts -- link away!

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