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Free At Last By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I MISSED CHRIS MATTHEWS’ COMMENTS ON THE SCOOTER LIBBY PARDON, but I’m told it sounded as if half his face were paralyzed.

He bellows for much of the Left, which wants to see a lynching, but justice – or something approaching it – has been done in the case of I. Lewis Libby. I was a bit premature earlier: our long national nightmare is now finally over.


The president struck a perfect balance between mercy and justice with his commutation of sentence. It is not a pardon – a wise decision. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew Libby had not been the source of the Plame Leak, and he knew this leak violated no federal laws. He pursued the case anyway, aiming for the vice president but apparently entrapping Libby. The jury pleaded confusion and frustration in deliberations. Without personally sitting on the jury, it would be nearly impossible to determine actual guilt or innocence, but I’ll defer to its decision. As I wrote after his conviction, “If Scooter Libby deliberately obfuscated a federal investigation – even one that should not have been pursued – his verdict would be well deserved.” The president’s grant of clemency keeps Libby from beginning a 30-month jail term immediately but does not remove two years probation time nor a quarter-of-a-million dollar fine. And in Bush’s words, “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.”


Not immensely enough for the Left.


Upon hearing the news, Sen. Joe Biden called on “Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law.” Cue: chirping crickets at the White House switchboard.


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi escalated her rhetoric, asserting this clemency proves Bush “condones criminal conduct.” She then fibbed: “The president said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the president shows his word is not to be believed.” What the president actually said was that he would take “appropriate action”; and “if somebody committed a crime, (he) will no longer work in my administration.” By her action yesterday, the Speaker shows her word is not to be believed (as if we needed more evidence).


Former Ambassador and current liar Joe Wilson assailed President Bush as “an accessory to obstruction of justice.” [1]


His comments show the alarming degree to which Scooter Libby came to embody the entire administration in leftists’ wild eyes. Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the Libby conviction as “the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone.” Democratic presidential hopeless Chris Dodd doddered, “By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, the president continues to abdicate responsibility for the actions of his administration.” Rep. Tom Lantos went further off-the-hook, hinting the president now lacked the moral authority to confront Vladimir Putin for killing his political adversaries and stifling freedom of speech. “This decision sends the wrong message about the rule of law in the United States, just as the president is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How can we hold the line against injustices in other countries when our own executive branch deliberately sets out to smear its critics, lies about it, and then wriggles away without having to pay the price in prison?”


It also demonstrates the shamelessness of its proponents. Hillary Clinton stated the commutation “sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.” Former Clinton appointee Bill Richardson audaciously broadsided those “who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries.” Hillary made no mention of “cronyism” when her husband pardoned Marc Rich, Susan McDougal, and more than a dozen New York terrorists; and both Hillary and Richardson lobbied for Congress to acquit the president of obstructing justice and lying under oath during a court proceeding (more significant than lying to federal investigators).


Leftists are now trying to portray themselves as tough-as-nails proponents of “law and order.” Where was the outrage when a Clinton-appointed judge ignored federal guidelines and sentenced Mafia lawyer-turned terrorism abettor Lynne Stewart to only 28 months in prison – for helping World Trade Center bomber Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman deliver fatwas to Egyptian Islamists insisting theocracy replace Hosni Mubarak’s government and that “all Jews be killed”? In his undeserved clemency, the judge citing Stewart’s “public service, not only to her clients, but to the nation.” This service includes representing Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and advocating political violence in his courtroom. Stewart was allowed to remain free during appeal and has yet to spend a single, well-deserved night in prison.


What of Sandy Berger, a higher government official than Libby, who destroyed unique evidence related to al-Qaeda terrorism? They have no time to comment on such trifles; they still think Patrick Fitzgerald will soon indict Karl Rove and Dick “Chee-nee.”


For the Left, clemency is only for Tookie Williams, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Weather Underground terrorists.


This was always a small potatoes case, an inkblot magnified by the million-power telescope of the Left’s self-delusion. They obsessed over it; I have written extensively about it myself. It had nothing to do with prewar “lies,” outing a covert agent, or even the president. Nonetheless, some honestly believe the nation will rise up in indignation against a partial amnesty of Libby’s Martha Stewart-like offenses.


The left-wing base of the Democratic Party is afflicted with acute political hypochondria. To the Democratic Left, the Plame Leak is Watergate, the Iraq death toll is the Vietnam Wall, Guantanamo Bay is Auschwitz, President Bush is Satan, Rush Limbaugh is Joseph Goebbels, minute temperature fluctuations are harbingers of the Apocalypse, minnows and zebrafish are 10-pound bass – and their wives don’t back up all their biological self-measurements, either.


Releasing Scooter Libby from an extraordinarily harsh sentence without fully removing the sting of the law brought his portion of this overblown soap opera to an equitable conclusion. Justice will be served fully in this case only when Valerie Plame is indicted for her potentailly perjurious testimony before Congress; Joe Wilson is publicly humiliated for lying about his CIA report on Niger’s yellowcake and smearing the president during a time of war; Congressional Democrats retract the lie than the Libby trial had anything to do with prewar intelligence; Patrick Fitzgerald personally foots the bill for his ego-boosting, prosecutorial fishing expedition; and the Hypochondriac Left heeds its own advice to “move on.”



1. Quoted on Hardball. MSNBC. July 2, 2007.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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