Monday, July 14
On Uncurious George's Get-a-Way Plan: Some Bush-styled Deal-Making at the Library
Texas homeowners, exploited in 2006 by a Bush-styled eminent domain executive order, were hoping Yale would step up and volunteer to host Bush's presidential library.
This commentary evokes that old college joke of the professor pulling down a book that some frat boy in his class is reading to discover the book was cover for the latest issue of Playboy.
In February, Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, TX announced that the university will be home to President Bush's $200 million library. The announcement has been met with widespread protests from faculty, administrators, staff, and even Methodist ministers. The library will sponsor programs designed to "promote the vision of the president" and "celebrate" Bush's presidency, while minimizing the involvement of historians. Former Bush adviser Karl Rove is reportedly advising the project in "an informal capacity." On Sunday, the Times of London reported that Stephen Payne, a major Bush-Cheney campaign fundraiser, was caught on tape offering access to key members of the Bush administration inner circle in exchange for "six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush's presidency." As the Times notes, "The revelation confirms long-held suspicions that favours are being offered in return for donations to the libraries which outgoing presidents set up to house their archives and safeguard their political legacies." Asked about the report, White House spokesman Tony Fratto simply responded, "[T]here's no connection between any official administration actions and the library."Thanks for all the memories of watching a moron playing high-brow, George. May I recommend after leaving the White House that you and Big Dick consider residency abroad, in a Third World country other than the one you've created here in the U.S.?
MONEY = ACCESS: In the Times' video, Payne is seen promising to arrange a meeting for an exiled Kyrgyzstan leader with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, or Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, in return for a payment of $250,000 towards the Bush library. When asked whether he could arrange a meeting for the former central Asian president, Payne solicited a bribe. "The exact budget I will come up with," he said. "But it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library." Payne said the remainder of the $750,000 would go to his lobbying firm, Worldwide Strategic Partners (WSP), which has worked closely with several Bush administration agencies, including the White House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, and Treasury, and the FBI. Payne is a political appointee to the Homeland Security Advisory Council and was George W. Bush's "personal travel aide" during his father's 1988 presidential campaign. He currently "assists the White House as a Senior Advance Representative" for Bush and Cheney. In a lengthy statement alleging that "that the Times attempted to entrap me," Payne responded that "isolated comments can be taken out of context."
LIBRARY'S SHADY DONATIONS: Payne told the Times' undercover investigators that publicly, the donation would be made in the politician's name "unless he wants to be anonymous for some reason." In February, Bush said he was considering keeping foreign donors' names to the library confidential. "There's some people who like to give and don't particularly want their names disclosed," Bush said. In November 2006, the New York Daily News reported that Bush hoped to get roughly $250 million in "megadonations" from some key allies, including "wealthy heiresses, Arab nations and captains of industry." The Bush administration has also given special favors to some library donors. Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt was listed as a Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign "Pioneer" and previously served on the board of Halliburton. Hunt donated $35 million to SMU to help build the library. When Bush announced he would extend the U.S.-Mexico border fence by 700 miles in 2006, he apparently granted a favor to Hunt: the border fence would "abruptly end" at Hunt's property in the small town of Granjeno, TX.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: The revelations about the Bush library uncovered by the Times further confirm the legacy of corruption that the Bush administration will leave behind. Recently, the New York Times reported that the State Department actually had an "integral role" in the awarding of no-bid contracts to develop Iraq's oil fields, despite the White House denying the adminstration had a role. One of those donors was Hunt Oil (owned by the same Ray Hunt). In 2007, Bush nominated Sam Fox, a major right-wing donor who gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, to be the U.S. ambassador to Belgium. Randal Tobias, who until recently led U.S. foreign aid efforts but resigned in connection to the DC Madam, was a former pharmaceutical executive and Bush campaign donor. The list of Bush donors with special privileges granted by the administration goes on and on -- and will apparently continue at the Bush library as well.
*Consider this excerpt from the 20 June 2006 review of Ron Suskind's assessment of the Bush White House's dispensing with "analysis and debate" in policy formation detailed in the author's new book The One Percent Doctrine:
... This book augments the portrait of Mr. Bush as an incurious and curiously uninformed executive that Mr. Suskind earlier set out in "The Price of Loyalty" and in a series of magazine articles on the president and key aides. In "The One Percent Doctrine," he writes that Mr. Cheney's nickname inside the C.I.A. was Edgar (as in Edgar Bergen), casting Mr. Bush in the puppet role of Charlie McCarthy, and cites one instance after another in which the president was not fully briefed (or had failed to read the basic paperwork) about a crucial situation.
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