"The President's decision to commute Mr Libby's sentence is disgraceful," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said in a first reaction to the move.That, by the way, is "Democratic fury." Scary, huh? History will judge Mr. Bush harshly, because heaven knows, we wouldn't want to be accused of harshly judging him now!
"Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war.
"Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone," he said in a statement.
"The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice-President's chief of staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law."
I can't now find the article which collected all the reactions of leading Democrats, but it was largely on the lines of Outrage! and Anger!, and very little more; certainly nothing concrete, like further investigations into why the Chief of Staff of the Vice President is a convicted felon on an obstruction of justice and perjury charge, lies which stopped a criminal investigation into the conduct of the White House and which now is all but over. No real mention of how truly self-serving this commutation is. All of that is lost behind the Shock! and the Outrage! Mild-mannered Bill Clinton comes closest to hitting the matter where it counts:
"You've got to understand, this is consistent with their philosophy," Clinton said during an interview on Des Moines news-talk station WHO.But it's still vague and inexact: "Philosophy"? "Should be able to do what they want to do"? Isn't clemency an almost absolute power? Can you connect those dots, Bill? Mitt Romney, of all people, sure can:
Bush administration officials, he said, "believe that they should be able to do what they want to do, and that the law is a minor obstacle."
"Wasn't it Bill Clinton that was handing out pardons like lollipops at the end of his administration?" former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now seeking the Republican presidential nomination, told supporters in Iowa on Tuesday.There's something solidly concrete about Romney's statement that really isn't there in Clinton's, and surely is completely missing in Reid's. The commutation was "outrageous." Yes, but why?!? Hell, the CNN article comes closer to making the point than any Democrat seems to dare:
"And isn't there some recognition that perhaps you might look a little silly if you didn't have anything to say when he was handing out pardon after pardon after pardon for political purposes only?"
President Bush on Monday commuted Libby's 30-month sentence for perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents investigating the 2003 exposure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.What's rapidly disappearing here is the "no underlying crime!" bleat that was so pointless and irrelevant. But what's replacing it is raw meat for the hardcore GOP base (whatever is left of it, with a sitting President below 30% in approval ratings, and who hasn't been above 50% since before control of Congress was a gleam in Harry Reid's eye), and yet the reddest meat the Democrats can toss their supporters is: "We're mad as hell, but we're still likely to take it some more, because to not take it would be unstatesmanlike, or perhaps even uncivil!" The harshest action is reserved, once again, for Rep. John Conyers, who will hold a hearing, be mocked by the punditocracy for the toothlessness of the hearing (what power do they have against the President's constitutional prerogative?), and even if it does expose the truly criminal nature of the omerta Bush has shamelessly purchased from Libby (Michael Corleone would be impressed), Democrats will only repeat that they are outraged, and that they wish, this time, President Bush would listen to them when they complain about the war in Iraq.
And 'round and 'round it goes.
Just a footnote to this, but to underline the uselessness of the Democrats, some of the statement of Harry Reid on Iraq:
"As evidence mounts that the 'surge' is failing to make Iraq more secure, we cannot wait until the Administration's September report before we change course. President Bush and the Iraqis must move now to finally accept a measure of accountability for this war, implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations, transition the mission for our combat troops and start bringing them home from an intractable civil war."Because, Lord know, if Bush won't take responsibility for this war, Democrats in Congress certainly aren't going to, and that's the way we support our troops!
Or something. I give up.