The politics of pardons

Will George W. Bush pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

Good question and one that has both the right and left buzzing. Conservatives are not just requesting, but demanding that Bush pardon the former Vice Presidential chief of staff sooner than later but Bush appears in no hurry to let Libby off the hook for his conviction of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice.

And while Democrats argue publicly against a pardon they hope privately Bush will do so because they feel it will be an issue to use against Republicans.

Writes Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times:

President Bush has pardoned 113 people during his presidency, including a Tennessee bootlegger and a Mississippi odometer cheat.

But none has drawn the public scrutiny, nor posed the same political challenge, as the candidate that many conservatives hope will be Bush presidential pardon No. 114: I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of lying to investigators in the C.I.A. leak case and sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison.

A pardon for Mr. Libby would attract more painful attention to a case from which Mr. Bush had managed to keep his distance for more than three years, a case inextricably linked to the flawed intelligence used to justify the Iraq war and an administration effort to discredit a critic that ultimately exposed a C.I.A. officer. The Democrats who control Congress would be none too pleased, either.

A decision not to pardon Mr. Libby would further alienate members of Mr. Bush’s traditional base of support in the conservative movement, a group already angry about his proposed immigration policy, his administration’s spending and his approach to Iran.

So far, Mr. Bush seems to be willing to take that chance, saying he will not intervene until Mr. Libby’s legal team has exhausted its avenues of appeal.

Already, major conservative and neoconservative organizations, magazines and Web sites are expressing vexation that Mr. Bush has not granted clemency to Mr. Libby, who they say was unfairly railroaded for an initial leak that has now been traced to Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state.


  1. stewart

    Do not be surprised when Libby gets his pardon….or at the worst an early release. Every President under the Constitution has the power of pardons and reprieves and every President has used it. In fact most presidents have used this power to the consternation of the Congress and at times the American people. Think about Clinton pardoning his brother or the guy in France who’s ex wife contributed 3 million I think it was the the Clinton Library in Arkansas. I mean really all the way back to the Midnight appointments of Sam Adams which resulted in Marbury v Madison (1803). The president has used certain powers to promote himself or his party. It is part and parcel of how the system works. It is politics to play the blame game when it is used as well.

    I’m not quite the cynic Steve is, I actually believe that most of the decisions by the Court actually do help improve our lot in life. Had it not been for the Courts we would have no specific right to privacy, rights of the accused…which to me often seems to be an oxymoron, suspect classifications, justice as fairness as Rawls would put it. I certainly am not saying the courts are not political institutions because they are human beings, with values and beliefs that often guide their decision making, but I still believe the Courts do try to maintain balance…i.e. the recent decision by the Court which addressed several of the Guantanomo detainees….a supposedly conservative, pro Bush Court votes contrary to Bush’s desires. They dont get it right all the time, but more often than not they do…or they rectify their mistakes down the road….although at times it seems wayyyyyyy down the road.

    Kerry Stewart

  2. geyser

    Libby will be pardoned, if anybody thinks otherwise you’re Brain Dead.
    It is part of the deal made with Libby to take the fall for cheney.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  3. Access Of Evil

    Dumbass is a loser, no matter what.

    — And how’s that fuggin’ war goin’ Georgie?

  4. Joe Lawrence

    …..that Bush/Cheney/Rove are the ones who put the Limbaugh gang up to these strident “protests?”

    The better to be able to accede to the “public demand,” while hoping and, even, praying Mrs. Libby will keep her mouth shut long enough for it to happen. It’s either that…….or a “heart attack” for Scooter, and, perhaps, a car crash for the Missus.

    Joe Lawrence

  5. Doubtom

    Pardons should be relegated to the dust bin of history. They’re a leftover from the days of kings.

    There’s no earthly reason why a president should have the right to pardon anyone guilty of a crime.
    The very existence of the pardon is an admission that our legal system is either seriously flawed or totally corrupt. Letting people go free as payback for political favors is about as blatant an act of corruption as I can imagine.

    We should have a Constitutional Amendment to discontinue the Presidential pardon. It’s only used for the well-connected and the rich; and proves beyond any doubt that there’s rich justice and poor justice.

  6. Steve Horn

    Facing his conviction, abandoned by his “friends”, Scooter should be a mensch and tell all – Bush may not pardon him – but he’d make brownie points with the rest of us!

    Hey – if Paris Hilton can get out of jail for “medical” reasons (what, no high quality coke and booze in jail???) – why not pardon Scooter – after all – isn’t that what American justice is all about? If you’re wealthy or famous you don’t go to jail???