George W. Bush

Remembering the G.W. Bush Years: Whatever Became of Scooter Libby, the Arab Street, and William Hung?


In 2007, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, became the only Bush Administration official convicted from out-of-control U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's Valerie Plame fishing trip. Though his sentence was commuted by President Bush, Libby did not receive a full pardon and remains convicted of four felonies, all of them related to statements he made during an investigation that produced no serious indictments, let alone convictions. Having had a large portion of his life ruined by the perjury trap [pdf] is a distinction Libby shares with a diverse mix of Americans, among them Martha Stewart and Roger Clemens.

The aughts: A freer, more open time when even William Hung could get girls high-kicking for him.

Beyond "Scooter is no name for a grown man," I have no feelings about Libby, but Fitzgerald went on to be hailed as a "heroic figure" for prosecuting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 24 counts, all but only one of which (another perjury trap) ended in acquittals a conviction. Fitzgerald does seem to have succeeded in bankrupting Blago, who will be represented by public defenders in his second trial. And he is still out there denouncing alleged hopheads and chiselers from his well-photographed lectern.

So it was good to see Libby turn up recently as a guest of Monica Crowley, refusing to whine about his downfall and politely offering that the current president is no more in touch with reality than was the previous one. In fairness, Libby should only be brought in as an expert on Vice President Joe Biden, or more specifically the vice president's chief of staff. ("Scooter, what can a man of Ron Klain's caliber be thinking at a time like this?")

Another Bush era relic, the "Arab Street," turned out to be less robust. This term of Friedmanian punditry briefly lent respectability to the idea that you can get the measure of various populations, who are famously disunited on all topics except the perfidy of the Jews, through State Department regurgitation alone. After springing into life following the 9/11 attacks as a phrase used by Thomas Friedman himself, the Arab Street quickly grew protective scare quotes, and soon thereafter fell into vaguely shame-filled disuse.

But here's a surprise: The one place you can still hear the term "Arab street" used without irony is in English-language reporting from al Jazeera. Here's a recent example. And here's a whole TV show that calls itself The Arab Street, checking in with Beirut bellyachers during the Pope's 2009 visit:

Note that even here the documentarians—strictly non-anti-Semitic truthtellers for peace and truth, no doubt—cannot resist lying about Israeli atrocities. At about the 56-second mark, after a title card reading "Lebanon—bombed by Israel in 2006 during war with Hizbollah," the next and only footage you see is of the Beirut Holiday Inn, which was gutted in March 1976, during a battle between Lebanese Christian militia and a largely Muslim coalition consisting of Lebanese and their more than sisterly Palestinian brothers. No Israelis were involved in this battle that was waged six years before Israel's 1982 invasion and 30 years before its 2006 invasion. The building's appearance has not changed substantially since the 1970s. 

Finally, William Hung famously struck out in a 2004 American Idol audition with an affectless cover of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" but at the same time won America's hearts with his can-do spirit. The William Hung website is still live, but William's last listed performance was at a 2008 River Bats game in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

And with that I think we can say the ghosts of the Bush era have finally been laid to rest.

NEXT: Why Should Opponents of the War on Drugs Vote for Democrats?

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  1. Note that even here the documentarians — strictly non-anti-Semitic truthtellers for peace and truth, no doubt — cannot resist lying about Israeli atrocities.

    My favorites are when the Palestinian official takes the camera crew outside the community center/hospital/government building and points to evidence that the Israeli tanks were relentlessly firing upon said building.

    Camera pans up, and we’re treated to a couple of six to twelve inch surface cracks in the plaster, and a phone junction box with one screw loose, dangling precariously from the side of the building.

  2. Clemens, not Clemons.

  3. “Another Bush era relic, the “Arab Street”

    That was a Thomas Friedman era relic as I believe that while he may or may not have coined the phrase, he used it back then as much as he now uses the word “China”.

  4. And with that I think we can say the ghosts of the Bush era have finally been laid to rest.

    Now if we could just do that with this Sarah Palin character I keep hearing about…

  5. “Scooter is no name for a grown man”

    Holy cow! I take umbrage at that.

    What is “umbrage,” White? I heard that on the radio yesterday…

    The one-two pitch…low, ball two.

  6. Good riddance to a really shitty decade.

  7. Obama inherited William Hung from Bush.


  8. Regardless of what you think of Libby, it is complete horseshit that a federal prosecutor can completely fail to make any case for underlying criminality and still get a conviction for “lying to federal officials” based on the crime that they can’t prove ever happened. Libby and Martha Stewart both got screwed. And they are both victims of our out of control Justice Department.

    Speaking of. Did Reason ever blog the USA Today piece about the long list of unpunished misconduct at DOJ? If not, it is a shame. It was a great piece of work.

      1. Thanks. I missed that.


      Here is the link. I would encourage everyone to read it if you haven’t already.

    2. Why would any criminal defendant ever testify before a grand jury? STFU and let the state lay out their entire case before a regular jury before you say a single word, and maybe not even then.

  9. I didn’t realize it until now, but I haven’t heard “The only news I watch is al-Jazeera” in years. It just silently fell off the shibboleth charts.

    And what doesn’t kill “The only TV news I can watch without throwing up in my mouth a little is BBC America” makes it stronger. Not even “I don’t have a TV” can stand up to it now.


    1. Actually, Al Jazeera English is decidedly less anti-American than either BBC or CNN International, at least in my experience. I am told Arabic Al Jazeera is pretty much all in for the Jihadists. But the English version is really not that bad.

      And I am not sure anything will ever beat “I don’t even own a TV”. It is the all time WHITE POWER chant.

    2. I didn’t realize it until now, but I haven’t heard “The only news I watch is al-Jazeera” in years. It just silently fell off the shibboleth charts.

      Were you hearing that from the voices in your head? I’ve never heard any native English-speaker make such a claim.

  10. Mock trial with J. Reinhold!


      1. It’s getting cold in the Pacific Northwest, Stevie. I need to trade you in for an unshaved ape to keep me warm.


  11. “for prosecuting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 24 counts, all but one of which (another perjury trap) ended in acquittals. ”

    Mr. Blagojevich hasn’t been acquitted of anything. He was only convicted of one count. The jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the remaining counts. That is why he is being tried again.

    1. Zounds! Double dumbass on me. Thanks for the correx.

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