It seems since his 2004 re-election, President Bush has succeeded in doing a lot things half-way or half-assed. The commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence is a little bit of both. It is certainly not an act of political leadership or courage. The Wall Street Journal agrees:
President Bush’s commutation late yesterday afternoon of the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby will at least spare his former aide from 2 1/2 years in prison. But by failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his Administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy.
Mr. Libby will have to pay a fine of $250,000 and serve two years probation. This reflects the leniency that was previously recommended by the federal probation office but was rejected by Judge Reggie Walton in his vindictive sentence.
These columns have had cause to defend the Bush Presidency from what we’ve seen as often meritless or exaggerated partisan attacks, notably over national security and the Iraq war. This, however, will stand as a dark moment in this Administration’s history. Joe Wilson’s original, false accusation about pre-war intelligence metastasized into the issue of who “outed” his wife, Valerie Plame, as an intelligence officer. As the event unfolded, it fell to Mr. Libby to defend the Administration against Mr. Wilson’s original charge, with little public assistance or support from the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell or Stephen Hadley.
Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover. The consequences for the reputation of his Administration will also be long-lasting.
Frankly, I think it is too late for the reputation.
And this ironic note from a reader at The Corner.
notwithstanding the commutation, it’s hard to swallow an otherwise hard working public servant getting whacked with a $250,000 fine, a destroyed reputation and an enormous amount of personal anguish – when he was put in a very tough position by an administration that seemed slow to defend…
i don’t pretend to know all the facts – but I do know this – Sandy Berger stole classified documents re: sensitive national security issues and received a $50K fine…
I guess for Inside The Beltwayers, justice is only “just” when a conservative goes to jail.