As governor of Texas, George W. Bush sent hundreds of men and women to their deaths without batting an eye. And as President, he's sent thousands of Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqis to their doom. But 2 1/2 years in Club Fed is too much for one of his cronies is too much for the President to stomach.
Incredible--to me at least--that George W. Bush would be so arrogant, cynical and, yes, stupid as to commute Scooter Libby's sentence before the man's toes had crossed the threshold of a federal prison.
Read the White House statement excusing Bush's act. As might be expected, it is a farrago of deceptions, half-truths and outright lies.
Commutation sounds less dramatic than a pardon, (the $250,000 fine is still in place), but it isn't. Scooter isn't going to pay the fine: one way or another, his friends are. While he will lose his law license for having been convicted of a felony (if he hasn't lost it already), some of his buddies will make sure that he lands on his feet.
What amazes me is the stupidity of Bush's move, and especially its timing. According to the White House, Mr. Bush "concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive." But he did not wait until Scooter had served a year, or six months or even thirty days; he spared him even a moment in jail. He did this before the Court of Appeals has heard Libby's appeal, or even received the briefs. Indeed, in all probability, a notice of appeal has barely been filed, and it may not even have landed in the appellate court as yet.
Many people suggested that Bush would pardon Scooter to avoid a prison sentence and the risk that Libby would spill his guts to prosecutors. I never bought that. From all the evidence that I've seen, Scooter's middle name is loyalty; he would never turn on his bosses, especially with only two-and-a-half years in some Club Fed to serve.
So, why did Bush act, and act now? Maybe I was wrong about Scooter and he really was threatening to roll over. But I think it's more likely that the President is simply displaying once again his contempt for the law, the public and the truth.