In 2001, George Bush Jr., following his Christian principles, and his instincts for justice and integrity and honor, appointed Reggie B. Walton to the Federal bench. No more molly-coddling criminals under my administration! Walton was known for his tough as nails approach to sentencing– the only way to stop crime in this country is to make sure that criminals pay the full penalty for their offences! By Golly, America wanted frontier justice and George Bush delivered!
When the U.S. sent Mayer Arar to Syria for some good, old-fashioned torture, and it was later revealed that it was all a mistake– no apologies! We are tough even on uncommitted crimes!
Until… until Dick Cheney’s good friend “Scooter” appeared before Reggie B. Walton and Reggie B. Walton did exactly what George Bush Jr. appointed him to do– deliver a tough sentence.
And then George W. Bush commuted his sentence (note: but he did not pardon him, which would have allowed Libby to continue practicing law).
Since then, Republican apologists have been performing the kind of verbal acrobatics that would make even George Orwell blush. Bush doesn’t want to undermine the judge, according to his White House Spokesflunky Tony Snow: “The point here is to do what is consistent with the dictates of justice”.
There you go. To do “what is consistent with the dictates of justice”. One of the fundamental principles of justice, of course, is equality under the law. So if a judge sentences Scooter Libby to two and a half years in jail and that turns out to be about average for obstruction of justice, then — then…. well, let’s not be coy here: nobody ever thought George Bush or his gang wanted the law to apply equally to themselves. Don’t forget that none of those raging militarists in the White House ever served in a wartime army either. Other people do that stuff. When they come back, we slash their veterans benefits. It’s the Republican way.
So when other people commit crime, the Republicans want the law to be merciless, uncompromising, and relentlessly destructive. But not, of course, for our crimes.
What Bush has done is absolutely the opposite of the “dictates of justice”: he has applied the law unequally. He has over-ruled a judge and jury. He has short-circuited due process. Don’t buy all the whining about a “conviction” being sufficient punishment– they don’t believe that about any other criminal– why should we think they really believe it about Libby?
But it doesn’t even matter if Bush agreed with the verdict or the sentence at all. It is completely irrelevant, if a country has a constitution and an independent judiciary. What Bush just did, from the point of view of any one who believes in constitutional government, was despicable.
He has done a favor for his friend. He has offered compassion and clemency to someone who did him a favor by taking the brunt of the Valerie Plame scandal and not implicating his superiors.
There are two ways Bush could have made things right. He could have advocated understanding and compassion for every single person who comes before Judge Walton.
Or he could have let Libby serve his full sentence, just like everyone else.
If you’re not outraged enough, consider this: as Bush was giving speeches about how “harsh” and “unfair” the Libby sentence was, he was simultaneously advancing new legislation that would make it even more difficult for judges to give more lenient sentences to any criminals, after taking into consideration special circumstances.
There’s a point at which it’s hard to even muster a fresh feeling of outrage at an administration this bad. This is raging hypocrisy. This is vindictiveness, spite, hatred, and stupidity, on a scale I could not have imagined 20 years ago, when even Nixon had more common sense than anyone in the Bush White House.
Why is there no scandal? Why is there no move to impeach Bush? Because most people believe what they see on TV?
Why not just pardon him? Now.
Yes, now– because Bush will indeed pardon Libby when he leaves office– no question about it. He’ll also pardon the rest of his friends after they are indicated, charged, and whatever. He’s got nothing to lose now– Bush is probably becoming dimly aware of the fact that his administration is going to go down in history as the worst ever.
I was surprised that Giuliani and Romney both endorsed the commutation. I think they may come to regret this. But then again, there is an important message here that they may wish to send out to their supporters and colleagues and campaign workers, and that message is: We will take care of you! If you have to do something of “borderline legality” on behalf of the campaign– don’t worry. We will take care of you.
[2022-05-07] As you probably know by now, I was wrong. Bush, I think because he had become dimly aware of how Dick Cheney and others had mis-used him and led him down a garden path of quagmire and mediocrity, did not pardon Libby, to the consternation of Dick Cheney who fully expected Libby to be rewarded for taking the fall for his (Valerie Plame) scandal.
This is probably the most honorable thing George W. Bush did. Then, to highlight the fact that it was honorable, Donald Trump came along and gave Libby the pardon he craved. Bush never looked more honorable.