I don’t know how I missed Tim Noah’s defense of the Libby commutation:
No fair-minded person can deny that the previous president committed perjury about Monica Lewinsky while serving in the Oval Office. The country knew it, and it let him get away with it. Does that mean no government official should ever again be prosecuted for perjury? Of course not. But it does mean Walton should have wondered whether he was imposing a double standard in treating Libby more harshly because Libby worked in the White House. Is it really fair to treat White House aides more harshly than ordinary citizens when presidents get off scot-free?
It would have been wrong for Bush to pardon Libby, as many Republicans urged him to do. Libby committed a crime, and it wouldn’t have been right for Bush to do anything to minimize the attendant disgrace or to lighten Libby’s $250,000 burden. “The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged,” Bush said. And so it should be. Bush did not intervene to spare Libby further disgrace, as Ford did with the Nixon pardon, and he didn’t pre-empt a prosecution that might reveal embarrassing facts about himself, as Bush’s father did. He waited until it was all over, and he acted humanely. Yes, it was inconsistent with his past indifference in such matters, particularly when he was governor of Texas. One can only hope that, having behaved decently once, he’ll acquire the habit. In the meantime, bully for him.
I must say I wouldn’t have guessed that Tim Noah would argue that Scooter Libby doesn’t deserve jail while the Washington Times argues that he does.
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