- The first substantial question is whether Mr. Bush sold the Harken shares ahead of bad results because he had inside information. He was on the company board, so the insider suspicion is natural. But the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the case and did not take action, apparently because it could not find firm evidence of wrongdoing. The SEC's chairman at the time was Richard Breeden, a Republican who knew Mr. Bush's father but who was also a renowned enforcement hawk. People who worked inside the SEC during the early 1990s reckon that the organization would have gone after the son of the president if it had had sufficient evidence.
Strangely, the supposed enforcement hawk's agency didn't bother to even interview his boss's son before deciding to scupper the investigation. As to what evidence they might have found if they'd dug harder (at all?), a premium story in salon.com reports that Harken president Mikel Faulker wrote a memo to Bush two weeks before the stock sale informing him, among other things, that the company had so little cash in the till that barring outside funding, it might have to shut down entirely, and that potential funders were "nervous".
The basic case here isn't all that much like Whitewater --- at least in so far as the alleged wrongdoing is easily understood, the publicly disclosed evidence is already substantial, and the alleged miscreant made money on the deal.
But if you're pining for a whiff of something Clintonesque, consider how Dubya's defenders are treating the SEC's failure to investigate the insider trading charges. They cite it as an indication that there was no wrongdoing, even though the SEC itself warned his lawyer that the termination of the investigation "must in no way be construed as indicating that the party has been exonerated or that no action may ultimately result".
Now that's parsing...