I won't pretend to do a comprehensive post on this, but we can sample some of the conservative reaction.
We wish the president had chosen a pardon. But as it is, he has removed the most onerous burden facing Libby as a result of this strange and maddening case, and for that we applaud him.Byron York compares the decision to Bush the First's pardon of convicted Iran-Contra criminals, thus providing further historical evidence for the notion that conservatives expect a different sort of justice than the rest of us, since their crimes are committed for totally good reasons.
Mr. Bush's commutation statement yesterday is another profile in non-courage. He describes the case for and against the Libby sentence with an antiseptic neutrality that would lead one to conclude that somehow the whole event was merely the result of Mr. Libby gone bad as a solo operator....Daniel Larison, on the other hand, thinks the WSJ editors are out of their damn minds:
Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover. The consequences for the reputation of his Administration will also be long-lasting.
It could have been written before the fact, but regardless of this it is a rich artifact of Bush-era propaganda. Mr. Bush is “evading responsibility” by failing to pardon Libby, when his act of commutation before Libby’s appeal was heard was something that he definitely did not have to do. He is “evading responsibility,” even though the WSJ position on this entire matter is one, long evasion of responsibility, moral, political and legal. These people are simply amazing. The commutation is a “dark moment” in the history of the administration–and not because it is giving cover to a convicted perjuror! It is a “dark moment” because the President did not misuse his pardon power to completely exonerate a felon. That is what these people mean. The WSJ said that Libby deserved better. Actually, he deserved to go to jail. He should be glad that the President was willing to do this much for him. So should his moronic defenders.Andrew Sullivan jeers as "the aristocracy rejoices":
The wealthy, connected, powerful coterie around Scooter Libby are reveling in their power to subvert the decision of a petty bunch of know-nothing jurors in favor of their best friend.Alas, Larison and Sullivan are not typical of conservatives in their reactions. As Todd Beeton reports at MyDD, the GOP presidential candidates, as well as 2/3 of their conservative base, fall somewhere on the spectrum between "it was a good decision" and "it should have been a full pardon." That puts them at odds with 60% of the American public, who believe that Bush should have respected the judge's decision. As Todd notes:
Once again, pandering to their base will marginalize them with the electorate at large and serves as further evidence of just how far outside the mainstream the Republican Party has become.To drive the point home, the Carpetbagger Report has some questions we might ask the GOP candidates over the next few months:
* Will you, as president, routinely overturn criminal sentences for unrepentant convicted felons before they serve time behind bars?
* If obstruction of justice and perjury are not serious crimes deserving of serious punishment, what other felonies are you inclined to disregard?
* Will your White House out covert CIA agents in a time of war, too?
* If there are two systems of justice — one for politically-connected Republicans, and one for everyone else — how will you decide who makes the cut?
* Why is privilege more important than justice?