I suppose I'm not suprised that President Bush commutted - let's say it, pardoned - Scooter Libby, but I am taken aback that he feels like he's still in charge enough to do so in the manner that he did. To rush to this decision, literally hours after it was deemed Libby would have to serve his sentence, Bush acted like someone who could do no wrong, acted in the way someone who was immune to criticism and above reproach might act.
Our President is not that person. He, in fact, has the lowest approval rating of any President, ever. What he did instead was validate many folks suspicions about this administration, that they do not think the law applies to them. Cheney and Bush believe that as the chief lawmakers, they are above the law itself.
Some people who actually know what they're talking about react:
"This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people’s faith in a government that puts the country’s progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years."
"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush's America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI. George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today."
"Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."
"The President's decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence is disgraceful. Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President's Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law."
There is a reason we have laws and why we expect our Presidents to obey them. Institutions have a collective wisdom greater than that of any one individual. The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking.
Will the President also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?
How about everyone's conservative savior, Mr. Fred Thompson?
"I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children."
In a separate interview, Thompson made sure his view was clear:
"While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president's decision. This will allow a good a man who has done a lot for his country to resume his life,"
All those Bill Clinton haters who railed against his pardon of Marc Rich were right - it was sleazy and hardly defensible. But this is a commutation of a sentence of a man who ruined a covert operative (a fact upheld by all the courts) on the behalf of the White House, who campaigned on national security. It's not legally treason, but it's disgusting, illegal behavior...and apparently not worthy of even a day in jail.