Political Outlook After Libby Indictment

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

October 28, 2005

Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been indicted on one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury, and two counts of making false statements to the grand jury. All of these are felony criminal charges based on who leaked the identity of CIA Agent Valerie Plame.

Even though President Bush's closest advisor Karl Rove was under intense fire during the investigation, he escaped indictment today, but will remain under investigation with a new grand jury. The prosecutor on the case said that so far it is Libby that is accused of lying about his contact with reporters. The Libby indictment brings about many questions in the political realm, like what is next for the administration, how does this affect the every day workings of the Federal Government, and how does this affect the future of the Republican Party?

Today's indictment of the Vice President's Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby is just the latest in the line of White House problems during President Bush's second term. With the slowing economy, high fuel prices, a slow response to Hurricane Katrina, and the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, what could be next?

"In order to get other domestic agenda items going, he is going to have to really clear the air of all of this negativity that is going around," said Joshua Scott from the Center for Politics.

With election day only twelve days away, Scott does not think the President's mishaps will negatively impact the Republican Party as a whole, including Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore. Rather, he believes it will carry deeper political undertones.

"I'm not really sure that this is the kind of thing that is going to necessarily pull votes away from Jerry Kilgore. The sad part about all of this is it doesn't just make the Republicans look bad, it makes the whole process look bad," Scott said.

Scott says the public perception already is one of mistrust and this situation does not help.

"It really reinforces a lot of the negative stereotypes that people have about politicians. It's corrupt, they're all crooks," Scott explained.

With the next Presidential election only three years out, these situations are causing some in the Republican party to rethink strategy.

"You're starting to see some these future presidential contenders distance themselves with the Bush Administration in the hopes that they can rise above some of this dark cloud," said Scott.

This indictment could pave the way for a trial that would expose the underbelly of the West Wing. Experts believe that it would show the influential role the Vice President played in the lobbying in the War of Iraq, a two-year battle that has left over 2,000 U.S. men and women dead.

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