Monday, March 26, 2007

The Perils of A Pardon

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, George Lardner, Jr. notes that if President Bush pardons Scooter Libby, it won’t be the free pass that both the critics and the advocates for a pardon think it is.

Here’s why: If Mr. Libby were to accept a traditional presidential pardon — a “full and unconditional” grant of clemency — he would be admitting that he was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted: obstructing justice, perjury and lying to the F.B.I. Perhaps it shouldn’t be that way, but it is — no ifs, ands or buts about it. So, while many who have been pardoned like to claim they have been “exonerated,” that simply isn’t so.

[…]

What all this means for Mr. Bush is that he can’t win. If he gives Mr. Libby a traditional pardon, one of his administration’s most powerful officials has to admit to wrongdoing — a remarkable event for an administration that seems pathologically averse to apologizing or even admitting mistakes.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.