July 4, 2007
What it Means to be George Bush's Friend
Byron Williams, Huffington Post
All right, all right settle down. It's not Armageddon. The president was
well within his constitutional rights to commute the sentence of Scooter
Libby who was convicted of perjury by a jury of his peers.
Did I say peers? In the end, only one peer mattered: George W. Bush. If you
must blame someone -- take it out on the framers of the Constitution who
gave this compassionate conservative the authority to insure that his friend
never spends an incarcerated night away from his family.
Frankly, everyone needs a friend like George Bush. Just imagine having your
own life size Monopoly "get out of jail free" card whenever you did
something wrong. If you are his friend you need only for him to conclude,
without the aid of the Justice Department, that your sentence is excessive
and voila, you're free!
Too bad Genarlow Wilson doesn't have George Bush as a friend. Wilson, an
honor student and star athlete at his Georgia high school, has already
served 27 months of a 10-year mandatory felony sentence for a voluntary act
of oral sex with another teenager. He was 17, she was 15.
A judge recently ordered Wilson to be released immediately. But shortly
after the ruling Georgia's attorney general, Thurbert Baker announced that
he was appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court resulting in Wilson
remaining behind bars. Now if George Bush were his friend, Wilson would be
at home sipping lemonade instead of confined to a cell.
Flozelle Woodmore, who I wrote about last week, could really benefit from
having George Bush as a friend.
In 1986, Woodmore, then 18 years old, killed her longtime boyfriend, Clifton
Morrow, after years of well-documented abuse. At the time of her trial,
abuse was not allowed in court as a mitigating circumstance. Woodmore
pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to
life. She remains incarcerated in Central California Women's Facility in
For 18 years she has been a model inmate. For the past six years, Woodmore
has appeared before the state's parole board; and each time the board
members found her fit for release. In addition, Woodmore's sentencing judge,
the district attorney, as well as the victim's family support her release,
but Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger have overruled the board's judgment
the previous five years.
Ah, but if George Bush were her friend -- need I say more?
There are also innocent people sitting on death row who desperately need
George Bush as a friend. But George Bush cannot be their friend because he
is Scooter Libby's friend; and such friendship is rare indeed.
For it is the type of friendship that ignores the rule of law, and is simply
not available to those on society's margin. This is a friendship whose
foundation is carved out of the granite of access and privilege.
As the most neo-conservative shills cackled away as to the miscarriage of
justice that convicted Libby, one would have thought he morphed into Nelson
Mandela instead of a Bush/Cheney loyalist who perjured himself. But with a
friend like George Bush, one can commit perjury and come out looking like a
Under the Bush monarchy, there is nuance when it comes to habeas corpus, the
Geneva Conventions, the use of torture, and preemptive war, but when someone
who is on the team commits perjury one must err on the side of the guilty.
If you are George Bush's friend you can lie, stonewall, omit facts, or add
new unsubstantiated ones assuming the cause is to lead this country into the
most unnecessary and tragic foreign policy decision since the Constitution
But if your are not his friend then you must live with the inconveniences of
the rule of law. No matter how just your cause, his hands are tied.
Ironically, when opining about the 152 death warrants for inmates he signed
as governor of Texas, then candidate George Bush wrote: "I don't believe my
role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own" -- unless of course,
you are his friend.
Source : Huffington Post (Byron Williams is an Oakland pastor and syndicated
columnist. E-mail him at byron@byronspeaks.