The editors of the Wall Street Journal, in their infinite whatever-passes-for wisdom, are beseeching President George W. Bush to offer Scooter Libby a full pardon on the grounds that it would "[undo] a measure of the injustice inflicted" upon him. But wait! Didn't Scooter basically get off scot-free? Apparently there are lingering malignancies, specifically the fact that "as a felon, Mr. Libby is barred by law from voting or practicing law." I really had no idea that the survival of our Republic depended so much upon the resumption of Scooter Libby's legal career. Surely he's free to vie for any number of "shovel-ready" infrastructure jobs!
The Journal, nonetheless, is uniformly unimpressed with the case against Libby. They've got their own urgently laid out version of the events that landed Libby in dutch with prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that unfortunately largely hangs on whether you buy in to this nonsense:
Based on the trial record and our own long experience with Mr. Libby, we also don't think Mr. Libby lied. As Mr. Fitzgerald's prosecution circled back again and again, Mr. Libby's defense that his memory faltered in recalling the details of long ago conversations is entirely plausible for a busy White House aide.
Emphasis mine, because that is so ADORABLE. My, my! This "Journal" from "Wall Street" must be new to the traditional behaviors and convenient neurological ailments of political figures under indictment! Naturally, we wonder why the editors would place such value on their "long experience" with a White House aide (read: source) whose memory was always faltering!
Anyway, if you do not believe Libby should be pardoned on what we will call "the merits," that's okay, because there's another important reason to show Libby the additional favor of a Presidential pardon:
The pardon power is granted to the President by Article II of the Constitution -- and is not to be taken lightly. At its best, the power should be used not for political favors but to correct injustice in cases where the courts have erred. The most important pardons have often been controversial, from Andrew Johnson's pardons of Confederate soldiers after the Civil War to President Ford's pardon of President Nixon. With perspective, they have helped to close the book on political mistakes, struggles and mismanagement, returning history's judgment from minor actors to the President.
This is the first time I've ever heard it explained that the value of a pardon is equal to the amount of controversy it generates. I had previously believed that the pardon power was an important tool in mitigating legal controversy.
Oh! And, "President Ford's pardon of President Nixon" managed to "close the book on political mistakes, struggles and mismanagement?" Really? Frost/Nixon's not doing brisk business? Dick Cheney's not echoing Nixon's "mistakes, struggles and mismanagement" on teevee? Why, it's almost as if the failure to hold people accountable ensures that lawbreaking continues or something!
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