To Forgive Divine?

It looks like the first round of the Scooter silliness has come to an end.

Now the inevitable round of blogging, cable news pundits and appeals will start.

But to read the news stories, one get’s the idea that Scooter actually might have to ‘pay’ for his misstep. I am sure all the news articles will inevitably push the possible punishment angle. The third paragraph in the Washington Post piece,

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Libby faces a probable prison term of 1 1/2 to three years when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton June 5.

The New York Times waited 11 paragraphs to point out the difficult sentencing issues involved here,

Judge Reggie M. Walton, who presided over the four weeks of testimony and presentation of evidence, set sentencing for June 5. Under complicated sentencing guidelines that are no longer mandatory, Judge Walton has wide discretion in setting a prison term.

But lawyers not involved in the case who are experienced in the issue of sentencing calculated that under the guidelines, Mr. Libby might be sentenced to 20 to 27 months.

But the fact that Libby will probably be pardoned is painfully obvious. It is clear in both the WP as well as the NYT where the story continued with,

Judge Walton allowed Mr. Libby to remain free on bail. The defense’s plans to ask for a retrial and then appeal the verdict mean that it would be many months before Mr. Libby would be required to go to prison. It also would provide a window for Mr. Bush to pardon Mr. Libby, an issue about which the White House has been silent, but one that quickly became a topic of speculation.

I would argue the question isn’t if Libby will be pardoned, but when.

On the one hand, it might make sense to try to get it over with relatively quickly, now; even before any real sentencing is handed down. Why?

Well George W. is under fire for the heavy handed ‘un-appointment’ of those pesky attorneys. Then there is all the dirt – um – mold the Washington Post uncovered about Walter Reed. What better way to scrape those two stories under the carpet and move on?. Let the lame duck president take the 5 point drop in the polls now before the real campaigning for a Republican candidate starts in up in the fall.

This option has a couple of advantages. First, Bush, who probably is still deluded about a ‘win’ in Iraq, has a chance to look towards all the happy comments he will be getting this fall. Then the Libby thing will be forgotten and Bush can start campaigning for his designated heir apparent. On the other hand, if things in Iraq or the war in Iran aren’t going better, then the pardon is better spoken now not later taking the quick hit and having some recovery time before the next shoe drops.

Of course, if there is enough legal wiggle room available and Libby can push any possible penalties into the far future, Bush will probably wait until after the 2008 election. Then he can pardon Libby with only a modicum of real political fallout. (One hopes that with the number of new nuclear powers in the world by that time, political fallout is the biggest worry Americans Bush will have but that’s another story.)

So, I think this is not an if question but a when question.

Besides. Isn’t forgiveness divine? And doesn’t Bush have a private line to the Big Guy?


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