Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pardon Pressure

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times looks at the pros and cons of pardoning Scooter Libby in terms of the politics and the Bush legacy.

Already, major conservative and neoconservative organizations, magazines and Web sites are expressing vexation that Mr. Bush has not granted clemency to Mr. Libby, who they say was unfairly railroaded for an initial leak that has now been traced to Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state.

“I don’t understand it,” said David Frum, a former speech writer for Mr. Bush who is now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group with close ties to the White House. “A lot of people in the conservative world are weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness here.”

Maybe that’s because most if not all of these conservatives have no sense of irony. As previously noted in this space, these were the same people who went into Wagnerian paroxysms of rant over Bill Clinton.

A former senior administration official with his own ties to the case said Mr. Libby had failed to meet the general standard for a pardon by not showing contrition or serving any time. This official also noted that Mr. Libby had also been found guilty of lying to investigators, the same offense that led to the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

The former official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the president, said: “It would show a deep disregard for the rule of law if he was to do it right now, when there has been no remorse shown by a convicted felon and no time has been served. How’s this going to fit in his long-term legacy?”

The question of the Bush administration’s regard for the rule of law has never really been in doubt: they have none if it goes against whatever it is they want to do, like wiretap with warrants or poke through banking records.

As for how it fits into Mr. Bush’s long-term legacy, I’m willing to bet that when it’s put up against the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and all the other outrages foisted upon the nation and the world, whether or not Mr. Bush pardons one of his loyal minions won’t really be the crowning jewel on top of Mount Trashmore.