Thoughs on Scootergate

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)

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Thoughs on Scootergate

  1. Arkades

    Enraged is right.

    One would *think* this would be a huge occasion for widespread backlash, except for one facotr: Bush really has no more popularity left to lose.

    In fact, those 28% or so who still luuuuuuuv the Preznit are the ones who *wanted* him to let Scooter off the hook… why? Not sure, but presumably because that sort of person views everything as an us-vs.-them zero-sum game, such that having one of ‘their guys’ do time is a loss for their side whereas getting him off the hook is a win for them and a loss for us. Never mind the rule of law, principles of justice, and so forth.

    Even massive disapproval from the majority of the population means nothing to Bush. He really meant it when he said he had his one and only ‘accountability moment’ in Nov 2004. Now he could give a fuck what we think. (As if he ever did. But now he doesn’t even have to *pretend* to care.)

  2. Melissa McEwan

    To be fair, I don’t know what Patrick Fitzgerald’s political stance is; he could be a crazy lefty or a Dobsonite Republican.

    He’s a Republican. And he was appointed in Illinois by a Republican.

    When I was living in Illinois, he (Patrick) was highly regarded by both Republicans and Democrats.

  3. oddjob

    And he does not believe that his friends should have to go to jail when they break the law.

    Why should he? When did he ever do so?

  4. oddjob

    In fact, those 28% or so who still luuuuuuuv the Preznit are the ones who *wanted* him to let Scooter off the hook… why?

    They thought it was a lot of fuss over nothing, not unlike the way most of the country felt about their impeachment of Clinton.

  5. An astute reader over at Josh Marshall’s TalkingPointsMemo notes that by commuting the prison sentence but not pardoning, Libby still has a fine and probation at stake. That gives him the continued right against self-incrimination and to refuse to testify before Congress.

    Now everybody wins. (Everyone who counts. There is nobody else.) Libby wins because he doesn’t go to the slammer, and therefore won’t talk in a plea bargain to stay out. Bush and Cheney win because he can’t be compelled to testify about what the hell was actually going on.

    Cool, huh?

  6. When I was living in Illinois, he (Patrick) was highly regarded by both Republicans and Democrats.

    I’ve no doubt. As far as I can tell, Fitzgerald is exactly what we want US Attorneys to be — fair and honest, tenacious in defense of the law, and willing to do justice even if it means passing on a questionable case. Those used to be unifying themes among both Democratic and Republican prosecutors.

  7. The bit about no one having been charged with a crime for blowing Ms. Plame’s cover is especially piquant. The reader will recall that not so very long ago a special prosecutor was digging into possible financial shenanigans, and the target of said investigation lied under oath. Now, there were no criminal indictments for the shenanigans being investigated then either. But.

    You know the words: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

    But it’s diiiiiiiiferent!

    Shut your whining fucking pie hole. *incoherent mutterings*

  8. Minerva's Mouthpiece

    Quixote – Well done. I have thought Bush commuted Libby’s sentence for the same reason he vetoed the stem cell research bill – politically useful symbolic acts dione to salvage something from the wreckage of iraq, immigration and so on. I had not appreiated t he legal cleverness of it.

  9. Pingback: Bush Raked Over Coals for Libby Commutation at Shakesville

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  11. Bill Fur

    Keith Obermann, of MSNBC in my opinion did the best commentary of the evening”Bush, Cheney should Resign Special Comment” CHECK THIS OUT http://video.msn.com/v/us/msnbc.htm?

  12. Pingback: trianglefreeforum.com :: View topic - President Bush commutes Libby's prison term

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