pardon “commutation” of Libby’s sentence did nothing else, it seems to have awakened our sleeping press corps for a moment or two. In a contentious press briefing yesterday, Tony Snow unsuccessfully tried to dance a tightrope under a barrage of questions that were insistent and even incredulous. The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank compared his performance to Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwock.
Logic suffered a…serious challenge when Bush press secretary Tony Snow, in his briefing, made the following points about Libby’s case:
· That Bush wasn’t “granting a favor to anyone” but that the case got his “special handling.”
· That it was not done for “political reasons” even though “it was political.”
· That it was handled “in a routine manner,” yet it was also “an extraordinary case.”
· That “we are not going to make comments” on the case, even though Bush had already issued a 655-word statement commenting on the case.
And if that makes sense to you, beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch.
“You’re insulting our intelligence,” one of the reporters advised Snow.
“How can you stand there with a straight face?” queried CBS News’s Bill Plante.
I’m including a video so that those of you who came of age after 1985 can see what the press used to be like before Ronald Reagan used his Everybody’s Granpaw image to turn them into weenies. There was a time once in the dim and distant past of legend and song when contentious briefings like this were standard, not isolated incidents fueled by outrageous political twisting of the justice system.
Now, if only they’d treat Bush himself with a similar unwillingness to accept transparent rationalizations and pretzel logic, we might actually consider that we’re getting somewhere.
Bush is playing to what’s left of his base – the right-wing Beltway punditocracy is about all that remains – by refusing to rule out an eventual (last day in office?) pardon, Judge Walton is trying to figure out how to reconcile the president’s have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too decision with actual Federal law, and John Conyers is threatening to hold hearings.
When Bush announced his decision Monday evening, he emphasized that Libby still faced what the president characterized as a “harsh” sentence, and noted that he was leaving in place a $250,000 fine and two years of supervised probation. Yesterday, however, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, a Bush appointee, filed a court order saying that federal law “does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervised release without first completing a term of incarceration.”
Walton asked prosecutors and defense lawyers to tell the court by Monday how they think the matter should be handled “in unusual circumstances such as these.”
As the judge tried to sort through the legal fallout, congressional Democrats began to mine the political consequences of the president’s action. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (Mich.) announced a hearing for next week to explore what he called “the presidential authority to grant clemency and how such power may be abused.”
“Taken to its extreme,” he said, “the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch.”
If Bush was trying to sidestep the inevitable fallout from a Libby pardon, it would appear that he failed.
Nothing new there. When has he not? From the Harken and Arbusto fiascos to bailing on his duty during the Viet Nam war to every single act of his presidency bar one – giving the Treasury away to his rich friends – everything he’s ever tried to do has turned into a giant cock-up. He makes Wrong-Way Corrigan look like he knew what he was doing (which, in fact, he did).
This puts the capper on it if you needed one:
Worst. President. Ever.