As has been noted here on POLJUNK and elsewhere, most of the country is responding to Bush's commutation of the Libby sentence with dismay and condemnation. This morning, the editorial boards at many of the country's papers take the president to task for his actions. But what can we really expect from this administration? Faithful execution of and adherence to the law, and its spirit? Now you're just talking crazy...
Anyway, here's what some of the country's papers are saying on the topic:
Judging from his decision yesterday to commute the 30-month sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr. — who was charged with perjury and convicted — untarnished ideals are less of a priority than protecting the secrets of his inner circle and mollifying the tiny slice of right-wing Americans left in his political base ... Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.
We agree that a pardon would have been inappropriate and that the prison sentence of 30 months was excessive. But reducing the sentence to no prison time at all, as Mr. Bush did -- to probation and a large fine -- is not defensible ... But Mr. Bush, while claiming to "respect the jury's verdict," failed to explain why he moved from "excessive" to zero. It's true that the felony conviction that remains in place, the $250,000 fine and the reputational damage are far from trivial. But so is lying to a grand jury. To commute the entire prison sentence sends the wrong message about the seriousness of that offense.
In commuting the sentence of former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, President Bush sent the message that perjury and obstruction of justice in the service of the president of the United States are not serious crimes.
Never mind the president's words about our system of justice relying on "people telling the truth" -- and that those who don't "must be held accountable." His bottom-line action speaks louder than all the platitudes and caveats in the president's statement.
And we'll round it out with this quote from the Dallas Morning News:
Nearly a decade ago, a GOP-led House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice in a civil deposition. Yesterday, a Republican president commuted the sentence of former top White House staffer Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of the same thing in a criminal investigation.
Republicans are known for being tough on crime. Apparently there's an exception when the criminal is a member of President Bush's inner circle.
If there's only one thing you can say about Bush and his administration, it's that they're consistent - consistently hypocritical, obstructionist, and contemptuous of the rule of law. This is just another case in point. Impeachment, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?