Disappointing Dick

DISAPPOINTING DICK…. For most of the last eight years, then-Vice President Dick Cheney probably grew accustomed to getting what he demanded. Given unprecedented authority by the president, Cheney was largely able to call the shots.

But not always.

In the waning days of the Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney launched a last-ditch campaign to persuade his boss to pardon Lewis (Scooter) Libby — and was furious when President George W. Bush wouldn’t budge.

Sources close to Cheney told the Daily News the former vice president repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration — even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.

“He tried to make it happen right up until the very end,” one Cheney associate said.

According to the report from Thomas DeFrank, whose Bush-related sources tend to be very solid, Cheney was not exactly passive about this, pushing Bush over and over again, in person and on the phone. A Cheney ally said the former VP was still pushing on Jan. 19, the day before President Obama’s inauguration.

Eventually, Bush became “exasperated,” and said he would no longer discuss the issue.

Someone close to Cheney said, “He’s furious with Bush. He’s really angry about it and decided he’s going to say what he believes.” (The day after leaving office, the former VP told the Weekly Standard, “Obviously, I disagree with President Bush’s decision” about a Libby pardon.)

My perspective on this is obviously far afield from Cheney’s, but I can’t help but think Libby got off easy. As part of a White House scandal in which presidential aides leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent, Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. The president commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence before he even stepped foot in prison.

Cheney doesn’t really have anything to be “furious” about.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.