Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush semi-pardons Libby

Scooter Libby won't do any time. Moments ago, the White House announced that President Bush was commuting his 2.5 year prison term, but leaving the $250,000 fine and probation requirements in place. Why's that, you ask? Officially, it's because President Bush knows better than a neutral jury what punishment is appropriate:

Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.

I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

Keep in mind that this is the official story! As a matter of policy, the President is claiming that he can decide what punishment is appropriate for the chief of staff of his vice president, who lied under oath.

Unofficially, of course, President Bush was never going to let Libby go to jail for his loyal efforts trying to discredit Iraq War critics. The appellate court refused to stay Libby's sentence, so Bush's hand was forced.

Will this send Bush's popularity into Nixon territory? Possible, but unlikely. That's because Bush has already flattened out with independents and Democrats; the only group he has left to whittle away it is the GOP base -- who, oddly enough, will likely support this decision (because they think Libby was the victim of an overzealous prosecutor).

But the Dems should have fun torturing Republican Presidential candidates as to their position on the semi-pardon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the sentence was within Federal guidelines, Bush's comment ("But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.") is a pretty lame explanation. Shades of Gonzogate.

I suspect conservatives won't be that thrilled either, though it's likely Bush will issue a full pardon on his last day in office.

-- Big Daddy

4:25 PM  

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