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People Like Us Don't Go to Prison, Scooter. Have a Nice Summer

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The day after Scooter Libby was convicted in March, I was at my gym in the morning, and there were a couple of middle-aged white guys in the locker room, and one said loudly, "Man, Scooter got hosed!" I got the feeling, maybe because this is Washington, that the guy knew him. Looking back, it was a hint of what would ultimately happen.

My first big brush with history in D.C., the day I attended Scooter's sentencing, has been evacuated of meaning, made into a mockery of the justice system by President Bush. I feel personally invested in this whole thing, because I was there watching Libby get his sentence, and my gut reaction to Bush's commuting of it yesterday is one of alarm and disgust.

Some readers misunderstood me when I said in my post that I was surprised at the length of the sentence. It wasn't because I didn't think he deserved it -- it was because I did. I was shocked that someone (Judge Walton) had pierced the Teflon of this administration like that.

There seems to be no limit to what this administration will do in its own interests and against the interests of the citizens of the United States. Just ask the jurors in the case United States v. I. Lewis Libby what they think right now.

Chris Matthews seemed quite sympathetic to the Scootmeister when he phoned in to his own show tonight from his July vacation. Aw, come on, he was saying, hasn't Scooter paid enough? I mean, he's been embarrassed! Disbarred! Isn't inconvenience enough punishment? Meanwhile the guests from the Right on the show (with David Shuster guest-hosting) were trying to retry Libby and find him innocent after the fact. Matthews, in his usual strangely fascinating mixed verdict, included the proviso that this is basically a bunch of bullshit on the part of Bush, an outrage, BUT: [sigh of relief] people like us don't go to jail, you know? (Pay no attention to Martha Stewart over there. Or Judith Miller. Or the Watergate guys.)

Curly Sue star Fred Thompson has come out with a statement: "This will allow a good American... to resume his life." A "convicted felon" kind of good American? And one who helped bring us this super-popular, super-short Iraq war/occupation?

Tonight you've got prominent Democrats telling people not to be complacent about this, to resist the temptation to just roll your eyes, and instead to "flood the White House" with protest messages. Well, that won't help. The deed is done. There's only one message, and it's to get in the voting booth and GET RID of the party that gave us this travesty, every chance you get.

Lots of smarter people than I am are tearing Bush's decision apart on all kinds of solid legal and political grounds tonight. My only contribution to the discussion is to point out what this really says about President Bush, the blue-blooded draft-dodger-in-chief in a crowd full of warmongering draft dodgers. This favor to Scooter comes from an emotional place in Bush, I surmise. He obviously didn't calculate the political price for this decision, because it will definitely not sit well with the voters in 2008 (but, I mean, throw it on the pile!).

No, he commuted the sentence because people like the "hawk" George Walker Bush DO NOT go to the battlefield or jail or anyplace where you have to depend on your strength and grit and wits to survive. They also don't sweat, they glisten. And they aren't truly answerable for their misdeeds. Embarrassment is enough punishment, thank you very much, and there's plenty of that to go around.

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