Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Scooter Libby

President Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence, leaving him incidentally with a $250,000 fine to add to all the legal bills, has enraged all the usual suspects both on the Left in the US and the punditry here. But I think we should go to leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton for her opinion on the matter.
Nonviolent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system.
Well, that was her opinion last week. Yesterday it had become:
Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. . . . This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.
So now I'm all confused.

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4 Comments:

Blogger bgprior said...

There is an issue of consistency, isn't there? If Bush pardons all "nonviolent" offenders, then she won't have a leg to stand on. But if he pardons Libby without pardoning or changing the laws for others like him, then this remains, as she says, a deeply-unpleasant example of cronyism. I have no particular affection for Hillary or hostility towards Libby, but I'd say you're aiming your guns in the wrong direction on this one.

7:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bgprior old son, you are talking out of your hat. The whole point is that Billary was part of the team that pardoned arch-crook Marc Rich...

12:51 pm  
Blogger bgprior said...

Anonymong, That may be your whole point, but I can't see where Tim raised this point. But perhaps I should try to deal with any point that anyone might bring up, whenever I post.

But to address your point, two wrongs don't make a right. The Clinton presidency may also have made bad decisions, but that doesn't excuse the Bush presidency. Or did Bush never promise that he would do better than Clinton?

As for whether Hillary is hypocritical on your grounds - I couldn't disagree more strongly with a lot of her politics, but I guess we ought to address what she does and says, not what her husband did. However privately influential she may have been over him, she had no executive authority, so the responsibility for bad decisions in the Clinton presidency should fall on Bill and his executive team, rather than his wife.

I'm sure Hillary would be bad for America, don't get me wrong. But however dangerous and hypocritical she might be, the principle fault in this matter is Bush's. That pardon is an abuse of executive privilege, whichever way you cut it. It is not good for America, whether you are Republican or Democrat, for liars and cheaters to be immune from punishment, provided they are on the President's team. Aiming at Hillary rather than Dubya in this matter is choosing the wrong target.

8:29 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

BGPrior, true and good points. I haven't been keeping up with the Libbygate affair, mainly because the principle of a man going to jail over what was, seemingly, a purely political matter seemed decidedly fishy. After all, the prosecutor knew who it was that had leaked Plame's name to the press (and since it was a CIA man and an opponent of the war and of Bush it lacked interest to the media) and it is still undecided (and looks rather doubtful) that any crime was committed there at all.

Whether Libby is a liar and a cheat wasn't really decided by the trial - what he was was a proxy for the VP and for Bush. As such the committal of his jail sentence (and he hasn't been pardoned) doesn't seem a wholly unfair result. And certainly better than Marc Rich, though as you say, two wrongs and all that.

1:52 pm  

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