Brian Linse makes the case that President Bush is tainted by his association with the Enron crowd. Says Brian
Regardless of what illegal shenanigans the Enron boys may or may not have gotten up to in the past, Bush will and should be judged for having such a miserable scumbag as a close friend and supporter.
I’m no fan of Bush or “Kenny Boy” Lay, but I must respectfully disagree with this position. I got into an argument many moons ago with a rabid Clinton-hater who made the same claim. I said then and I’ll say now that it is not a crime to be friends with a shady character. One is rightfully judged by one’s actions, not by one’s company. Or, to put it another way:
 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
I’m not attempting to draw any parallels here – $deity knows that Dubya gets enough worship from Andrew Sullivan, and I seriously doubt that Bush would have ever tried to get Lay to repent his evil bookkeeping ways. That’s not the point. It’s certainly true that his past actions in regard to Enron and Ken Lay are in many ways objectionable. I won’t be at all surprised if at least some of his future actions regarding them are the same. However, standing by Ken Lay the man, his friend, is not something I will object to. In fact, I consider his attempts to distance himself from Lay to be craven. To be Ken Lay’s friend in the good times but not the bad doesn’t speak well for our president as a human being. It reinforces the notion that he only cared about the money, which is precisely what he should want to dispel.
In short, if I refused to judge Bill Clinton by his disreputable friends, I cannot judge George Bush by his.
UPDATE: Apparently, Brian drew a fair bit of disagreement. I’m never comfortable aligning myself with Clinton-bashers, but I gotta call ’em as I see ’em.
For the record, I quoted the same Bible verses to the Clinton hater I sparred with back then. I suppose that’s a stronger rhetorical device when dueling with Republicans, but oh well. My point in making that citation was that I believe the tactic of attacking a person by attacking that person’s associates can be used against anyone, regardless of their degree of actual guilt.
I do understand the point Brian is making, and perhaps I’m just splitting hairs, since there’s no question that Dubya’s friendship with Lay is closely entwined with their business and political dealings. I still believe that we should be examining Bush’s actions, and that anything else is misdirection.