Thursday, March 8, 2007

Beg Pardon?

So the question comes down to not if the president will pardon I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby but when. Betting pools are already being set up (guess the date and win a T-shirt!) and of course the wingers are taking over the talk shows and op-ed pages saying that Scooter is a nice guy who got caught up in the moment; the charges were trivial and there was no “real” crime, and according to Rush Limbaugh, the Wilsons “set up” the Bush administration to trap them in a lie (which makes you wonder who’s been watching a little too much of 24).

As Newsweek notes, it may be harder for Bush to pardon Libby than all the weepers want; that is, if he follows the regulations set up by the Justice Department.

Those regulations, which are discussed on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/pardon, would seem to make a Libby pardon a nonstarter in George W. Bush’s White House. They “require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after conviction or release from confinement (whichever is later) before filing a pardon application,” according to the Justice Web site.

Moreover, in weighing whether to recommend a pardon, U.S. attorneys are supposed to consider whether an applicant is remorseful. “The extent to which a petitioner has accepted responsibility for his or her criminal conduct and made restitution to … victims are important considerations. A petitioner should be genuinely desirous of forgiveness rather than vindication,” the Justice Web site states.

Of course, the president doesn’t have to follow those guidelines, and there is no evidence that he has ever paid attention to the pesky little rules that apply to everyone else. That would be in violation of the Right Wing Prime Directive: Conservatives Never Make Mistakes and A Republican Is Never Wrong. As Digby notes,

Republican administrations always break the law and when they are caught they always pardon their own. I guess we’ve just become so used to it now that people don’t even find it shocking anymore.

If this happens, from this day forward, Republican administrations know they have no obligation to uphold the law while in office, ever. Why should they?

There are some, I’m sure, on the GOP side who would see the Libby pardon as bad news for them in that it would basically hand the Democrats the 2008 election. After all, how can candidates for the House and Senate go out on the campaign trail and not only have to defend the arrogance, lawlessness, incompetence, and sheer audacity of the last eight years but ask the voters to trust them again? How can they do that and not get their head handed to them? But then, the president really doesn’t care all that much about what happens to other people unless it directly effects him. So what if the Democrats win 60 seats in the Senate? He’ll be out of office and playing with his X-Box.

In the larger scheme of things, the pardon of Mr. Libby will be a relatively small item; after all, when you put it up against the invasion of a sovereign country based on misguided, misinterpreted and invented intelligence, the trashing of the Constitution, the cronyism, the demonization of science in favor of mythology, the politicalization of the Justice Department, the efforts to relegate the gay population to second-class citizenship, and Hurricane Katrina, the prospect of Scooter Libby spending a few years in the joint doesn’t measure up to the other calamities. All it does is affirm being a Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.