Andrew Sullivan's got a really quite hilarious post flagging
the latest tripe from Marty Peretz about the Libby GOOJFC -- Get Out of Jail Free Card (TM). Peretz says from start to finish the case was politically motivated. And certainly he has plenty of company on the right with ridiculousness. Says
the appointment of the special prosecutor, the prosecutor's own obsessions, the case itself with the doubtful and understandably doubtful but diverse memories of many witnesses, including the defendant, the especially harsh sentence pronounced by the judge, the refusal of the appellate court to continue Libby on bail - all of these were politically motivated.
This actually puts a finger on the key point in this whole drama. The case had profound political overtones. And certainly there are no end of people in the country who became deeply invested in this case who normally wouldn't get overly bent out of shape about a run-of-the-mill perjury and obstruction case -- which, at least narrowly speaking, this is.
But Libby never found his fate in one of those people's hands. Not once. There's just no getting around that point.
Go down the list.
1. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Decided a special prosecutor was needed and then recused himself from the decision because of his proximity to the probable targets of the investigation.
2. James Comey. Yes, he's the darling of the Dems now because he spilled the beans about the hospital stand-off. But Comey is, dare we say it, a REPUBLICAN. And not just any Republican but a pretty tough law-and-order type who only months earlier had been appointed Deputy Attorney General by President Bush. He had it in for Scooter? He let his partisanship get in the way?
3. Patrick Fitzgerald. Again, a darling of the Dems now for obvious reasons. But anyone who knows the guy's history knows that while this registered independent may not lean ideologically right (in the way movement whacks might recognize) he certainly doesn't lean to the left. It's no accident that his appointments have come under Republicans.
4. Judge Reggie Walton
. Let's start with this: He was appointed by George W. Bush. And if that doesn't do it for you, he was appointed to previous judicial appointments by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
A mere calling of the roll like this puts into a razor-sharp relief just how silly these claims are. At every step in the process Libby's fate was in the hands of someone who was either himself a staunch Republican or had been repeatedly appointed by staunch Republicans. The only thing is that no one ever passed him off into the hands a Bush loyalist
. And that's the key. Alberto Gonzales never got the hand-off. Whatever else you can claim about this case, it's about as clear as it can be that partisan politics played no role in Libby's fate.
Now, one other point on a somewhat related matter. In a strange sort of way Rich Lowry and I now appear to agree
that President Bush's commutation is without any rationale whatsoever. Needless to say, he now says it should have been a full pardon. But we're on the same wavelength to the degree that we agree that the commutation makes no sense.
As I wrote
just after the news broke, there would at least be a logic, though I think a very poor one, for a pardon. You just say, it's all about politics. The whole case is illegitimate. And I the president am exercising my constitutional power to wipe the judicial slate clean. Period. I think it's a bogus argument. But it is not an illogical argument.
But President Bush says the prosecution, the prosecutor, the judge and the juries verdict are all legitimate. He doesn't second guess any of them. He just thinks Libby shouldn't go to jail, even though that's the normal punishment for the crime. There's no way of understanding this other than to conclude either that the president simply likes Scooter Libby and -- as many of us would -- doesn't want to see him have to go to prison or that Libby could provide testimony incriminating people in the White House, including the president, and that that is a risk President Bush is not willing to take.
Wipe all the chatter away and there's only one argument for what happened here.
He's our guy; we've got the power; so go f--k yourself.
That's the argument.