The NYT editors' editorial is so bad it's not even worth fisking. The WSJ cuts Bush no slack:
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.
In no small part because of these profiles in non-courage, it was Mr. Libby who found himself caught up in prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's hunt for the Plame leaker, which he and his masters at Justice knew from Day One to be State Department official Richard Armitage. As Mr. Fitzgerald's obsessive exercise ground forward, Mr. Libby got caught in a perjury net that we continue to believe trapped an innocent man who lost track of what he said, when he said it, and to whom.
Mr. Bush's commutation statement yesterday is another profile in non-courage. He describes the case for and against the Libby sentence with an antiseptic neutrality that would lead one to conclude that somehow the whole event was merely the result of Mr. Libby gone bad as a solo operator. Here is how Mr. Bush addressed it in his statement yesterday, which may now stand as history's take-away from the Libby trial:
"My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. . . . The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting."
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.
One of the brightest bloggers in the world is Jeff Goldstein . He examined
Ambassador Munchausen (Joseph Wilson's) comments on the commutation with characteristic wit and accuracy:
Update: Ed Laksy adds:
In a recent interview with "In The Know TV," a public affairs television show broadcast in the DC area, Joe Wilson - the husband of former CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame - spoke out about the potential pardoning of Scooter Libby.
Wilson argued, "Considering that this is an obstruction of justice case, and considering that the prosecutor has said repeatedly that there remains a cloud over the Vice President, it seems to me that those who are arguing for pardon are in fact accessories to an ongoing crime." He said that until the cloud over Cheney is lifted, the ultimate crime cannot be said to have been punished.
Wilson also argued that Bush should recuse himself from any involvement with the Libby scandal. "The idea that the President would not recuse himself given the superior-subordinate relationship he had with Mr. Libby - and considering that it would be the first time that you would consider a pardon in a criminal investigation that involves perhaps the Office of the President, certainly the Office of the Vice President - would be totally inappropriate," he said.
The idea the Wilson would talk about recusal given the superior-subordinate relationship he had with his wife - who orchestrated his being sent on the "fact-finding" mission that uncovered facts opposite to those he outlined in his infamous op-ed - speaks not only to his repulsive arrogance, but also to his failure to recognize an irony so clarified that it belongs in a ramekin next to a 5 lb lobster tail.
"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."
The medical expertise of John Edwards is well-known. He's collected millions for bogus conditions and knows all about fooling juries. Perhaps a dead fetus has been informing him about clinical conditions.