Lewis "Scooter" Libby; click for larger image
I half expected that President Bush would pardon Scooter Libby after his conviction in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of a CIA operative's identity. Thus, news that the President would be commuting the 30-month prison sentence Libby received did not come as a complete surprise.
In fact, I think it is an indication of just how far President Bush's popularity has fallen that he felt compelled to leave the rest of the sentence in place, which includes a $250,000 fine and two years of probation. I suspect that Bush at the height of his popularity would have pulled the trigger on a complete pardon.
You can follow this link to the press release announcing clemency for Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, but this tersely-worded statement offers little insight into the President's mindset.
The President, in another statement, described Libby's prison sentence as "excessive", and depicted the former White House aide as a broken man.
"The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely," the President said. "He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting."
This is all true, but Lewis "Scooter" Libby violated the public trust and lied under oath. Perhaps he was just being a good soldier and taking the fall for his boss, Vice-President Dick Cheney, but the law is the law. If you, me, or my Uncle Bob had lied on the stand in a federal court, we would have been smacked down with similar penalties.
Except we don't have friends in high places like Scooter Libby.
Thus, another day's worth of corrupt politics draws to a close in Washington, and the collective disgust that most Americans feel for their elected representatives grows a bit deeper. It is also another dreary twilight in the presidency of President George W. Bush, a man who seemed to be the right person for the job in the weeks after 9-11, but whose administration spirals into a seemingly bottomless abyss of incompetency.