When Bad Things Happen to Bad People

When Bad Things Happen to Bad People

There is a wonderful, even breathtaking, passage in Elliott Abrams’s book in which he reproduces a letter by his wife Rachel that expresses her fury at the prosecutors who secured the criminal indictment of her husband for improperly withholding information from Congress. Abrams himself never quite manages to achieve a comparably pure distillation of venom, but it is not for want of trying. His account of his ordeal at the hands of the Iran-contra special prosecutor’s office wastes no words on any arguments on the other side. This book makes no pretense of balance; it is a victim’s screed against his tormentors.

No doubt, Abrams would consider my selection to review his book as a further effort by political enemies to persecute him. Though he and I started out on friendly terms when he was appointed in 1981 to serve as assistant secretary of state for human rights, our relationship soon deteriorated. After a while, we were no longer on speaking terms, and, along the way, matters got to a point where the Columbia Journalism Review reported that I was among three or four persons with whom he would refuse even to debate on television talk shows. Our hostility was sufficiently well known so that, when it was reported that he had pled guilty on two misdemeanor counts, I received several congratulatory calls. I even wrote a column in the Nation expressing satisfaction over his conviction because it seemed the appropriate denouement to a career in public office in which deceit had been a hallmark.

...

Lima