Okay, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way:
(1) Yes, unquestionably, Mr. Bush possesses the constitutional authority to commute the 30 month prison sentence of his White House aide — and former Chief of Staff of Vice-President Cheney — I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Jr.;
(2) Yes, President Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich was, at best, ill-advised (Though, curiously, it was “Scooter” who handled Mark Rich’s pardon with the Clinton Administration.); and
(3) Yes, I am absolutely opposed to Mr. Bush’s commutation of “Scooter” Libby, for all of the obvious reasons, the erosion of the rule of law, the impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, the cronyism and the appearance of cronyism, the lack of accountability on the part of our public officials, etc.
All of this said, Mr. Bush’s commutation of “Scooter” does not, honestly, offend me. In fact, I quite expected it. (It is rather difficult — if not just a bit silly — to be offended by something you are almost certain will result. Instead, it is just something I kind-of, “factor in.”) This, of course, does not mean I support “the Decider in Chief’s” decision. Again, I do not. But it does mean I think it patently unreasonable — indeed, it borders on the irrational — for anyone to have expected otherwise.
But what does offend me is the President’s and his administration’s entitlement mentality. This pride, this arrogance, this unmitigated hubris on the part of the President and the Republican party as a whole. A mentality such that their wealth and their power entitle them, somehow, to more, to treatment, other than and different from, the treatment afforded to us “ordinary” Americans.
Witness, for example, “Scooter” Libby’s legal defense: All told, Republicans raised over $5 million dollars for “Scooter’s” criminal defense. “Scooter” hired four legal defense firms and spent over $2 million dollars, the last of which cost $2000 dollars per hour! Who among us, “ordinary” Americans, can afford this kind of defense?
Then, after a jury convicted “Scooter” on four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice and after the district court sentenced him to 30 months imprisonment, a $250,000 dollar fine, and two years of probation, Mr. Bush commuted his prison sentence, asserting the prison sentence was excessive. (This from a man who, as Governor, presided over the execution of 152 people, to include that of Karla Faye Tucker, a woman who led a prison ministry and whom Mr. Bush openly mocked — pursing his lips, squinting his eyes, and in a squeaky voice saying, “Please don’t kill me” — in an interview with Talk magazine!) Excessive? I don’t think so.
Within three days of the Mr. Bush’s commutation of his prison sentence, “Scooter” issued a cashier’s check in the amount of $250,400 dollars to pay his fine! No, the commutation of “Scooter” Libby is about one thing and one thing only: The protection and the preservation of all of those who are “entitled” to the privilege of wealth and power and, sadly, to all the “justice” they can buy.
Alvis Yardley is chairman of the Erath County Democratic Party.