December 10, 2008
Bribery as quid pro quo
On National Review's Online The Corner, Victor Davis Hanson asks a core question about Illinois Governor Blagojevich's (D) alleged behavior and a controversial Clinton presidential pardon.
Despite the crudity of it all, the charges seem to boil down to a classic sort of bribery couched in quid pro quo: give me A, and you get B. But as illegal and as unethical as that is, what exactly is the difference between the Illinois example, and doing something like: since you gave my party, my legal defense fund, my furniture account, my library account, and my wife's senate campaign fund well over an aggregate of $1 million, so also I give your felon ex-husband a presidential pardon?
I realize that the legal distinction may involve the exact timing and tape-recorded record of the transaction, and the use of an ex-wife intermediary. But, in a moral sense, they seem just about the same to me.
VDH is talking about the Marc Rich pardon, of course, where the fugitive financier's wife represented him in negotiations with the Clintons. Look for Hillary to get a million questions about this case during her confirmation hearings.