Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A pardon without the pain

By Creature

Condi Rice, work wife and holder of the president's ear, weighs in on Scooter Libby and his Quest for Pardon:

QUESTION: You think he should go to jail?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, let me tell you what I think about Scooter Libby. I think he's served the country really well. I think he did it to the best of his ability. I think that he is going through an extremely difficult time with his family and for him. And you know, I'm just desperately sorry that it's happening to him and I -- you know, the legal system has spoken, but I tell you, this is a really good guy who is a good public servant and ought to be treated in accordance with that.

I've talked about Libby's pardon potential before and the feeling I'm getting is that while the president isn't keen on a full pardon--as Condi states: "the legal system has spoken"--he is keen on commuting the sentence, as Bill Kristol predicted on Sunday, or possibly even decreeing that Scooter stay out of jail pending his appeal, as David Frum argued last night on Hardball--he called it the president's power of respite.

One has to wonder what the neocons, and conservatives alike, are being told behind the scenes. I doubt they would be protesting so vociferously if they hadn't been told that the president is considering taking a pardon off the table--told this by the vice president, no doubt. So, with each new compromise floated it's becoming increasing clear that the president is uncomfortable with an all out pardon. I say the president's fabled loyalty only holds firm for those who came from Texas with him--Gonzo as case in point--and that a compromise, whether a commuted sentence or a stay upon appeal, will be the president's way to placate his conservative base while still claiming he respects the rule of law. Either way we can be sure the fallen soldier, I. Scooter Libby, will never see the inside of a jail cell.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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