Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Scooter Is a Casualty of the War?

I’ve heard some lame-ass reasons for pardoning or cutting back on Scooter Libby’s sentence, but this column by Richard Cohen takes the cake.

An unpopular war produced the popular cry for scalps and, in Libby’s case, the additional demand that he express contrition — a vestigial Stalinist-era yearning for abasement. No one has yet explained, though, how Libby can express contrition and still appeal his conviction. No matter. Antiwar sanctimony excuses the inexplicable.

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I don’t expect George Bush to appreciate this. He is the privileged son of a privileged son, and he fears nothing except, probably, doubt. But the rest of us ought to consider what Fitzgerald has wrought and whether we are better off for his efforts. I have come to hate the war and I cannot approve of lying under oath — not by Scooter, not by Bill Clinton, not by anybody. But the underlying crime is absent, the sentence is excessive and the investigation should not have been conducted in the first place. This is a mess. Should Libby be pardoned? Maybe. Should his sentence be commuted? Definitely.

The underlying crime is absent because people lied about it, including Karl Rove, and Mr. Libby was either too stupid or egocentric to think that he could get away with it. That he took the fall for others and is going to jail while others are not is not a virtue; it’s testimony to the fact that he’s a loyal crony and now expects mercy because he’s shielding higher-ups.

There are plenty of people who are rotting in jails for lesser crimes who do not get the sympathy and op-eds of the Washington Post, but that’s because they’re not rich white hacks. And if Mr. Libby is going to jail because of a revulsion against the war and the lies and machinations that got us there and for his role in enabling the administration to not only get us into Iraq but to demonize and endanger the life of a CIA covert agent in retaliation for politically embarrassing the White House, well, it’s about damn time someone did.