David Frum on Trump’s ‘Tidal Wave of Deceit’. Political Reporter shares his thoughts and perplexity.

Mr. Frum, in this political instance, has discarded, for the moment, his pose as Wise Republican Elder, to embrace the garb of the Conspiracy Theorist, embraced by such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, her New Democratic allies, the Corporate News Media and its reporters, editors and its long-winded pundits. Not forgetting Television and the Internet, as the point of confluence of these Media Giants. The reader is confronted with a Frum not seen, or perhaps even remembered, by his current readership?

Mr. Frum was once the man behind the ‘Axis of Evil’ catch phrase that was the cornerstone of the Public Relations sales pitch of Bush The Younger’s ‘War on Terror’ (not to forget Cheney, Rumsfeld and ‘The Architect’ Karl Rove!) That ‘War’ has metastasized into a political cancer, that has rendered the once Republic null and void.

In Frum’s narrative the presidential power of The Pardon, has now been perverted as a tool of Trump’s political nihilism. Yet compare and contrast the pardons of Trump with those of George W. Bush:

Donald Trump:


George W. Bush:


Trump’s term of office is almost at its end, and the pardons that have gained attention are:

Joseph M. Arpaio

Lewis Libby, aka Scooter Libby,

Dinesh D’Souza

Michael Robert Milken

Bernard Bailey Kerik

Michael T. Flynn

George Papadopoulos

Roger Joseph Stone Jr.

Paul J. Manafort

Charles Kushner

The power of the pardon is at the president’s discretion, according to Article 72.

Mr. Frum has forgotten about George H.W. Bush’s notorious pardons:

December 25, 1992

Headline: Bush Pardons 6 in Iran Affair, Aborting a Weinberger Trial; Prosecutor Assails ‘Cover-Up’

Lawrence E. Walsh’s Statement on the Pardons

Six years after the arms-for-hostages scandal began to cast a shadow that would darken two Administrations, President Bush today granted full pardons to six former officials in Ronald Reagan’s Administration, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

Six years after the arms-for-hostages scandal began to cast a shadow that would darken two Administrations, President Bush today granted full pardons to six former officials in Ronald Reagan’s Administration, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

Mr. Weinberger was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 5 on charges that he lied to Congress about his knowledge of the arms sales to Iran and efforts by other countries to help underwrite the Nicaraguan rebels, a case that was expected to focus on Mr. Weinberger’s private notes that contain references to Mr. Bush’s endorsement of the secret shipments to Iran.

In one remaining facet of the inquiry, the independent prosecutor, Lawrence E. Walsh, plans to review a 1986 campaign diary kept by Mr. Bush. Mr. Walsh has characterized the President’s failure to turn over the diary until now as misconduct.

Decapitated Walsh Efforts

But in a single stroke, Mr. Bush swept away one conviction, three guilty pleas and two pending cases, virtually decapitating what was left of Mr. Walsh’s effort, which began in 1986. Mr. Bush’s decision was announced by the White House in a printed statement after the President left for Camp David, where he will spend the Christmas holiday.

Mr. Walsh bitterly condemned the President’s action, charging that “the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.”

Mr. Walsh directed his heaviest fire at Mr. Bush over the pardon of Mr. Weinberger, whose trial would have given the prosecutor a last chance to explore the role in the affair of senior Reagan officials, including Mr. Bush’s actions as Vice President.

‘Evidence of Conspiracy’

Mr. Walsh hinted that Mr. Bush’s pardon of Mr. Weinberger and the President’s own role in the affair could be related. For the first time, he

charged that Mr. Weinberger’s notes about the secret decision to sell arms to Iran, a central piece of evidence in the case against the former Pentagon chief, included “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.”

The prosecutor charged that Mr. Weinberger’s efforts to hide his notes may have “forestalled impeachment proceedings against President Reagan” and formed part of a pattern of “deception and obstruction.” On Dec. 11, Mr. Walsh said he discovered “misconduct” in Mr. Bush’s failure to turn over what the prosecutor said were the President’s own “highly relevant contemporaneous notes, despite repeated requests for such documents.”

The notes, in the form of a campaign diary that Mr. Bush compiled after the elections in November 1986, are in the process of being turned over to Mr. Walsh, who said, “In light of President Bush’s own misconduct, we are gravely concerned about his decision to pardon others who lied to Congress and obstructed official investigations.”

In an interview on the “McNeil-Lehrer Newshour” tonight, Mr. Walsh said for the first time that Mr. Bush was a subject of his investigation. The term “subject,” as it has been used by Mr. Walsh’s prosecutors, is broadly defined as someone involved in events under scrutiny, but who falls short of being a target, or a person likely to be charged with a crime. In the inquiry into the entire Iran-contra affair, a number of Government officials have been identified as subjects who were never charged with wrongdoing.


Mr. Frum prides himself on his veracity and political uprightness, yet his essay of December 24, 2020 treats the Mueller Report as ‘Gospel’, even as Frum asks a series of what he considers to be the most pertinent questions.

The Mueller Report can take its place beside The Warren Commission, as a demonstration of the utter failure of the FBI, to do anything but engage in mythmaking fantasies, about its mastery over the forces of lawlessness. Frum acts the part that Edward Jay Epstein played in the defense of the Warren Report : his book ‘Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth’ was an apologetic, that was answered by Mark Lane’s ‘Rush to Judgement’, and signaled the demise of Arlen Specter’s preposterous ‘Magic Bullet Theory’ !

Mueller and Comey resemble characters in a Max Senate comedy, at the wrong shutter speed. Mr. Frum’s attempts to mitigate the mendacity of Trump, via Mueller, whose performance in front of the camera only emphasized that he was just a figurehead, a front man for an investigation, that had/has been eroded by its own incompetence.

Both Clinton and Trump share a delusion: Clinton, that she lost in 2016 because of ‘Russian Interference’ in the election. Trump, that he lost in 2020 due to massive voter fraud, and the destruction of ballots, by poll workers, and other nefarious actors. Note that both of these candidates are ego maniacs on a scale that is hard to imagine for we ordinary mortals. Mr. Frum’s essay helps to explain to his readers…

Political Reporter

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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