Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gevalt! The most annoying thing about “Scoot out of jail free.”

Today, Tony Snow responded to criticism from the Clintons about the Scooter commutation thus:

“I don’t know what is Arkansan for chutzpah [1] but this is a gigantic case of it."

We have reached a sad time when goyishe [2] Tony Snow is speaking Yiddish from the White House. Don’t we Jews have enough tsouris?[3]

Apparently, in this latest iteration of the “Bill Clinton did it, too” excuse, the White House is seeking to evoke the recollection of the Mark Rich pardon. Gay gezinteh heit. Chub a gutten yur. [4]

On Bill Clinton’s last day in office, he pardoned a refugee from the Nazis, Mark Rich, M.O.T., [5] a financier and philanthropist who had been falsely accused of tax evasion by Rudy Giuliani.

I say falsely accused because such is the opinion of U.S. tax professors Bernard Wolfman of Harvard Law School and Martin Ginsburg of Georgetown University Law Center. It was also the opinion of a panel of distinguished Republican lawyers including I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. Be that as it may, these kinds of disputes are not unusual, and they are normally resolved in civil suits.

In the Republican orgy of recriminations against the Clinton administration that was the hallmark of the early days of the Bush administration, it was alleged that President Clinton pardoned Rich in return for favors paid to him. Indeed, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, who had worked so hard with President Clinton to secure a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, had made a clemency plea on behalf of Rich, as had numerous other Israeli officials.

Grasping at straws, Clinton-haters pointed out that Rich's former wife and the mother of his three children, socialite Denise Rich, had made large donations to the Democratic Party and the Clinton Library during Clinton's time in office. A Federal Prosecutor was appointed to investigate whether or not a crime was committed by Clinton’s exercise of the plenary pardon power. The conclusion arrived at by James Comey, who was to later become the Acting Attorney General under George W. Bush, was that there were no grounds to present to a Grand Jury.

Nobody, not even the most rabid Republicans ever suggested that the pardon of Mark Rich was a part of a conspiracy to protect members of the administration. Never was it suggested that Bill Clinton had a political motive for his decision to right a wrong committed by an over-zealous prosecutor, who now happens to be running for the Republican nomination for President.

Still want to talk about Mark Rich? Gai kakhen afenyam. [6]

“… and tell ’em Menachem Mendel [7] sent ya!”

Footnotes for the Yiddish challenged:
[1] lit. Nerve. Colloq: balls, as in “He had the chutzpah of a blind burglar.”
[2] Non-Jewish, and (when used in an otherwise English sentence) non-Jewish in a stereotypical way.
[3] troubles
[4] “Go and be healthy. Have a good year.” The equivalent to the dismissive “Knock yourself out,” you should pardon the expression.
[5] Member of the Tribe, (e.g. Rich, Libby)
[6] Go shit in the ocean.
[7] Big Mitch

9 comments:

Ed*ard Teller said...

Pretty damn funny, Mitch. I remember reading about the Marc Rich stuff when it started coming out at the time of the pardon. Good parallels in your analysis!

a New Yorker from Vermont said...

The comment at Digby was so funny that I had to come over to find out who this Big Mitch character is, and lo and behold, he not only is a real person, but he is a Jew living in Alaska!

Anyway--that comment provided me with my first smile all day...

Margot said...

Can I just say how much I love Leo Rosten's "The Joys of Yiddish"?
;)

darjade said...

Liked your comments in The caucus, had to see the person. My favorite yiddish is 6, very useful.
darjade from Wa.

Kay Dennison said...

Excellent stuff!

Maya's Granny said...

Mitch,
You haven't posted in a while. Is all well in your part of the state?

Bear said...

Mitch! Tell us all that you're okay - we miss you...

Bear said...

Mitch! Tell us that you're okay - we miss you!

CTuttle said...

Hey Dood! FTFY! 8-P
Looks like you're keeping busy! Check out my new digs...!