07/03/2007 11:09 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Calling 'Clemency' by Its Name

Language is important in moments like this.

The White House has done a great job of framing this as a 'commutation' of Libby's sentence. 'To commute' is a cold, technocratic, emotionless verb.

But look at the actual order Bush signed and it calls the presidential quasi-pardon by its real name: Clemency.

Clemency is an emotive word. It appeals to our sense of mercy. Clemency is something we should give to the Georgia teenager whose girlfriend gave him head at a party and now is in prison for aggravated child molestation. It's reserved for those instances where following the letter of the law creates a greater injustice than the crime.

Scooter covered up illicit actions at the highest levels of our government. Libby lied. Intentionally. To the F-B-fucking-I.

If you or I did that we'd be flirting with Gitmo.

The clemency a rogue sheriff tried to give Paris Hilton provoked nationwide outrage. Clemency for a Bush crony should rile us no less.