First off, let’s note that you can’t get this more right than Orin Kerr has:
The Scooter Libby case has triggered some very weird commentary around the blogosphere; perhaps the weirdest claim is that the case against Libby was “purely political.”
I find this argument seriously bizarre. As I understand it, Bush political appointee James Comey named Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame leak. Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Fitzgerald filed an indictment and went to trial before Bush political appointee Reggie Walton. A jury convicted Libby, and Bush political appointee Walton sentenced him. At sentencing, Bush political appointee Judge Walton described the evidence against Libby as “overwhelming” and concluded that a 30-month sentence was appropriate. And yet the claim, as I understand it, is that the Libby prosecution was the work of political enemies who were just trying to hurt the Bush Administration.
This is very important to understand: the partisan witch-hunt that brought down Scooter was a one-party affair, that one party being the Republican party. (To be fair, I don’t know what Patrick Fitzgerald’s political stance is; he could be a crazy lefty or a Dobsonite Republican. That’s a credit to him. But he was a Bush appointee.)
The right has made much of the complexity of the Plame case in order to mitigate the damage from it. We have been told that Plame wasn’t covert, despite the fact that she was. We have been told that there was no underlying crime committed, so Scooter couldn’t be guilty of lying to prosecutors — a claim that Fitzgerald ably rebutted. And lying to a prosecutor can be spun, at least a bit.
But nothing can spin this: Scooter Libby is a convicted felon. George W. Bush intervened to spare him jail time. In order to do so, Bush circumvented the processes he himself had put in place for pardons and commutations. Bush did this because Scooter Libby was Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, and possibly to continue to guarantee that Libby would not reveal that which he was convicted of lying about.
This is no longer a complex issue. George W. Bush does not believe in the rule of law. And he does not believe that his friends should have to go to jail when they break the law. And he believes that his friends and colleagues are more important than anyone else in America. He believes they are above the law.
And that is easy for the American people to understand — and quite enough for them to get enraged.
(Cross-posted from Blog of the Moderate Left)