Scooter Hoist by His Own Petard
The judicial shoe dropped on Scooter Libby yesterday to the tune of 30 months in jail and a $250K fine. Not surprisingly, there's plenty of caterwauling about the fairness of the sentence and whether he deserves - or will get - a Presidential pardon. People are apt to frame Scooter's sentence through the window of Clinton's impeachment and in some ways the comparison is fair, in others, not so much.
The Humidor Honey
Clinton lied about his humidor honey, Monica Lewinsky. You could argue that he should've been charged and convicted of that felony offense, but he wasn't. The justice system made a legal decision not to prosecute - end of story. From a legal point of view, it doesn't matter whether you believe he's guilty. As they should, the legal system made that determination on our behalf. After all, I believe that OJ did it, but that isn't what the court found and I'm not a judge. So, I respect the decision even though I believe it is wrong. Such is the true rule of law.
However, a republican congress disagreed with the legal decision and attacked Clinton's case via a legislative process. I personally believe that was the wrong decision, but they carried it out properly under congressional rules, so I respect it. It doesn't matter which is worse, a lie about a BJ or a lie about outing a spy. Both are actionable crimes and both men payed for their transgressions. It's a little disingenuous for Libby supporters to split that hair now and charge the prosecutor played politics at Scooter's expense when a similar argument could be made about Clinton's impeachment.
Scooter's supporters think he should get off because he wasn't convicted of the original "crime" the feds investigated, but that's also true of Clinton's imbroglio. Whitewater had zero to do with blowjobs. Lying and obstruction are crimes in of themselves - not withstanding the still unproven republican claims that Plame wasn't outed. Scooter's supporters also claim he should get off because of his long and honorable government service. That argument just don't hold water. One could say Clinton served his government equally well.
It seems that on the "rightness scale" both cases are more or less equal. But a pardon is another matter entirely.
Clinton had little recourse in defending against impeachment. There was no one to pardon him. He may have lied to the grand jury, but once the affair was out he allowed the process to go forward with little whining. His supporters complained loudly, just as Scooter's do now. But at the end of the day, both men deserve punishment and are getting it.
However, Scooter does potentially have a get out of jail free card. Unlike Clinton, there is someone to pardon him. It's true other Presidents have made dubious pardons, but that shouldn't be a precedent or excuse for a Bush pardon. A pardon would highlight Bush's evident disdain for the judicial process and the rule of law he so often cites. It would also be true to form. He's often skirted the Constitution and angled to prevent legal challenges to those decisions and that is neither fair nor right. If Bush pardons Scooter, it will be an injustice.
And perhaps that, would be the biggest crime of all.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, June 06, 2007