Not that Scooter Libby has asked for my advice, but I also must say that that the ardor of his supporters — including, I believe, NR — has hurt him, and hurt the conservative movement, in very fundamental ways. As to him personally, all this passionate rhetoric about his heroic service to the United States, how the investigation should never have happened, and how he got unfairly singled out and screwed (all of which I agree with) would be fine if it weren't obscuring something fairly important: Lying to the FBI and a grand jury is a very bad thing, even if we all think it was an unworthy investigation.But don't expect an epidemic of conscience. Because then there are the Fouad Ajamis over at the Wall Street Journal:
The blather about the foibles of memory is just an excuse for people who don't want to confront that inconvenient fact. Foibles of memory come up in every trial — they were particularly highlighted in the Libby trial because the defense hoped to score points with them given the nature of the charges, but they were not materially different from what happens in every trial. That's why we have juries.
Witnesses have varying recollections, and juries sort it out. The evidence that Libby lied, rather than that he was confused, was compelling. And the jury was diligent: the post-verdict commentary showed that they liked and felt sorry for him, several thought there should have been no case, some openly hoped for a pardon, and on the one count where the evidence was considerably weaker than the others, they acquitted him. They convicted him on the other four charges, reluctantly, because they had no choice if they were going to honor their oaths. And I respectfully think it's very presumptuous of people who were not there and did not spend nearly the time and attention the jurors did on Libby's case, to continue saying that the jury got it wrong and this was just a case of faulty memory.
In "The Soldier's Creed," there is a particularly compelling principle: "I will never leave a fallen comrade." This is a cherished belief, and it has been so since soldiers and chroniclers and philosophers thought about wars and great, common endeavors. Across time and space, cultures, each in its own way, have given voice to this most basic of beliefs. They have done it, we know, to give heart to those who embark on a common mission, to give them confidence that they will not be given up under duress. A process that yields up Scooter Libby to a zealous prosecutor is justice gone awry.Weakness, Mr. President, Ajami thinks. Your enemies will see weakness. And what do we do when we perceive weakness?
[. . .]
The Schadenfreude of your political detractors over the Libby verdict lays bare the essence of this case: an indictment of the Iraq war itself. The critics of the war shall grant you no reprieve if you let Scooter Libby do prison time. They will see his imprisonment as additional proof that this has been a war of folly from the outset. [Emphasis mine.]
And then there are the Bill Kristols, who not so long ago thought the rule of law a foundational principle to be defended. Now they think Libby should be pardoned:
Bush doesn't seem to have much sympathy for Libby himself--he was just hired help, and hired help sometimes gets thrown overboard. Normally, though, staff who get thrown overboard simply lose their government job. They don't go to jail. Nor, incidentally, has the president said that he feels terrible for what the Wall Street Journal correctly called "the cowardice and incompetence of his administration"--an administration whose CIA leaked its referral of the Plame matter, and whose Justice Department panicked and appointed a special prosecutor, all of which has finally brought us to the present pass.Is Kristol really arguing that Bush and an administration midwifed in "cowardice and incompetence" by Kristol and the Weekly Standard ("The Official Bathroom Reading of the Official Bathroom"®) should do the honorable thing by following more wisdom from Kristol and the Weekly Standard?
In any case, it's not about Bush's feelings. The Constitution says nothing about the president's feelings. It does, however, in Article II, Section Two, give the president the power to pardon. To govern is to choose. Not to pardon is, now--given the verdict, and the likelihood of a prison term--itself a choice. Not to pardon would be a foolish and unjust choice for the president to make. But more important, not to pardon--or, at the very least, not to commute the sentence by eliminating the jail sentence--would be a dishonorable choice.
It's beyond further comment. Besides, Cheney's probably leading "strategery" sessions on the pardon already.