The old adage "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." has never been more applicable.
Scooter Libby's 30 month prison sentence for several counts of obstruction to justice and lying to a Grande Jury was commuted by President Bush on Monday.
Not a full pardon, commuting his sentence seems to be a political compromise for Bush between the conservative hardliners and... well, everyone else in America.
Libby will still be on probation for 2 years and still have to pay a fine of $250K.
The ability to grant pardons and commute sentences is pretty much the only unchecked power a sitting president has. All other actions or decisions have to be concurred by Congress or The Supreme Court in some fashion (the other is the ability to declare war... anyone on an irony overload with that one?!)
Bush told the American people 2 years ago that whoever in his administration was found to have leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's identity (a covert - yes, it has been officially confirmed that she was indeed a covert - CIA operative) to the press would be fired and face prosecution. Apparently what Bush failed to tell the American people was that he had no intention of letting that administrative official actually serve time.
I guess we just should have seen that as a given.
Bush used the word 'excessive' to describe the court's sentencing of Libby as the reason to commute his sentence when explaining his controversial decision to the press yesterday.
However, the Federal Judge who presided over Libby's case and levied the sentence was appointed by Bush Sr., is known as a true conservative and has a flawless history of following the letter of the law when sentencing.
Bush has long touted the importance for Federal Judges to stay within federal guidelines in sentencing, which is exactly what this judge did.
Conservatives who are standing beside Bush on this decision were united in their voice 9 years ago that Clinton be reprimanded according to the same federal guidelines for lying to a Grande Jury aka 'perjury'. And he was. And his impeachment (yes, he was impeached, he was not removed from office which is a separate action) was deserved in my opinion.
However, Giulianni, Fred Thompson, McCain, and Mitt Romney all now agree that federal sentencing guidelines are not fair in this situation.
This scenario has now provided me with an impeccable litmus test for presidential candidates vying for my vote. I now know that Giulianni, Fred Thompson, McCain, and Mitt Romney will not be getting my vote come Tuesday Nov 4th, 2008.
Finally, There have long been federal guidelines (granted, not laws) for a sitting president to follow (penned by The Justice Department early in this country's history) when pardoning one found guilty of federal crimes. One of those guidelines has been for The President to wait until at least most, if not all, of the convicted's sentence has been served.
Bush seems to feel those federal guidelines (like bothersome sections of The Constsitution) are mere words that he can't be bothered by.
As one observer put it "Bush seems to have all but given up on preserving the legacy of this administration for all of history".
Funny thing is, I uttered a similar phrase hours earlier. It went something like "Man, he just doesn't give a shit anymore does he?"
Folks, clearly Bush has adopted a 'run out the clock scenario' on his presidency. One would be hard pressed to counter the observation that this is not an administration "of the people, by the people, for the people".
I repeat...
If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.