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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
posted by Timotheus | 3:24 PM | permalink
As everyone knows at this point, Bush 43 decided to commute Scooter Libby's federal prison sentence. This has been hailed by some people who think the special prosecutor was seeking to get some kind of an conviction form an investigation that went largely nowhere. One of the Advisory Board members of the Libby Defense Fund, Fred Thomspon, had this to say:

"I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life."

In the past, Thompson is also on record saying he would "absolutely" pardon Libby and that the case was a "gross injustice."

Some of the most conservative news outlets (heavy sarcasm intended) have compared Thompson's position to his vote to impeach Clinton:

"Thompson, in fact, voted as a senator to convict Clinton for obstruction of justice, though he voted to find Clinton not guilty of the perjury charge. In explaining his vote to convict, Thompson at the time underscored the seriousness of the obstruction charge. 'In the context of a federal court proceeding, that does violence to the rule of law,' he told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal shortly after casting his vote. 'It causes people to lose respect. That to me was the kind of thing the founding fathers would have said rises to the level of removable conduct.'"

I have previously written here about Thompson's vulnerability in relation to his impeachment vote. I am not saying the vote wasn't appropriate or not, I actually think it was. I do think it can be effectively used against him though because Thompson can easily be painted as one of the Washington Republicans who banded with Gingrich to try to take down Clinton (something many people disliked).

There is something pretty distasteful in talking about electability in many ways. You aren't propounding principles, you aren't advocating for the right path, you are doing a pragmatic assesment of what you have before you and what would be the most strategic (not to be confused with strategery) approach. Having said that, I also think Thompson's large and public role in the Libby defense will also be effectively used against him. Whatever some activists may think, this is not a winning issue. The Democrats have been describing Washington Republicans as corrupt cronies for a long time and this is just another item to be packaged in campaign fundraising mailers and to be railed against at rallies.

As Hillary Clinton put it: "This particular action by the president is one more piece of evidence in their ongoing disregard for the rule of law that they think they don't have to answer to."

As Barak Obama put it: "This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years."

Now, Romney for his part, called the commutation "reasonable." He has previously been criticized for not committing to a pardon. This is very consistent with his record as Governor though, where he has been criticized for not pardoning anyone during his tenure in MA. He prefers a restrained approach because he doesn't want to overturn a jury verdict.

In the general election, to the extent this issue has traction, I think Romney fares much better than Thompson. Really this is about electability. Increasingly, I am convinced that Thompson's record as a lobbyist, as a Senator, as a lobbyist again, and as a member of Libby's defense fund make him very vulnerable in a general election.

As a prosecutor, I must say that I am not a big fan of pardons or commutations of sentences as a whole. I take a jury verdict as fact generally, unless new evidence comes to light. There is no new information here as far as I know. Having said that, I appreciate that Bush has the right to do this. But leaving the debate aside as to whether Libby should have served time since everyone else convicted of this crime does or whether he should ultimately be pardoned, the commutation doesn't reflect kindly upon the White House or the Republican party. As a result, I am convinced the candidate who took a more measured approach to the issue is a better choice than the potential, may be if I get around to it, or you might suck me in if you try, candidate who was on the defense team.
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1 Comments:


Fred Thompson is just another part of the McCain, Dole, Damato philanderer polygamist cabal, protecting their goods. McCain was part of the Keating S&L scandal, but they are also responsible for the subprime debacle. Damato never passed the repeal of Glass Steagal because he was milking both securities and banking firms. Meanwhile, the junk banks he had his hand in made junk loans. It only took Phil Gramm one month to pass Gramm Leach when Damato was defated. These guys don't see fnance as an industry which affects our global competitiveness, just as a teat they can suck on. The youth stashers want a harem of women and a harem of banks they can have their way with. And, now, will the guys who insisted our current president was the best candidate just because he had a southern accent please pay the bill?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 2, 2007 at 11:41 AM  



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