So the President intervened and commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence. The official White House statement is here and includes these paragraphs:
Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
Here’s what I think:
1. His reputation is not “forever damaged” – at least not among the folks on the Right. They don’t think he did anything wrong. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been pushing so hard for a pardon.
2. As a result of 1., friendly Republicans will pay his fine. Not directly, of course… they’ll pay him a big speaking fee for a few engagements.
3. Nobody will pay any price for burning Plame, and everyone else associated with the same cover agency… regardless of the cost to the taxpayer. Well… I guess if the conviction holds, Scooter isn’t going to be able to open a bar that serves alcohol, at least until another Republican President sees fit to give him a full pardon.
4. And I wonder what message this gives to other administration folks thinking of perjuring themselves.
And then I have one more thought… isn’t this argument, in effect, saying that child molesters shouldn’t have to serve time in jail? After all… someone convicted of child molestation really, truly has their reputation shredded into tatters, and as we learned from Mr. Bush, a fine, probation, and a damaged reputation constitute “harsh punishment.”