Monday, July 2, 2007
Two things strike me about President Bush's decision to commute Scooter Libby's jail sentence. First, in his statement accompanying the order, here's how Bush explains his decision to act now:
I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.
The problem is that Libby's appeals were not exhausted. It's just that his basis for appealing was so weak that the court saw no reason to release him on bail pending the outcome. Which means this is exclusively about making sure Libby never sees the inside of a jail cell.
Second, and more significant, is Bush's well-known record of denying death sentence reviews based on only cursory briefings while Governor of Texas. The message this sends is startlingly clear: Keeping one of Cheney's protégés out of Club Fed is worth considerably more attention than making sure a potentially innocent person isn't executed.
The President made a point of listing the many lasting humiliations Libby's sentence will impose on him. To which I'd add one: Paris Hilton cried for her mommy. But at least she did the time.