LIBBY PARDON: WHY WOULD BUSH BOTHER TO WAIT FOR '08?
John Amato at Crooks and Liars is chuckling over Rush Limbaugh's comments on the Libby verdict (audio clip at the link). I can see why, but I also think that what Rush says might be a sign of what Bush will do next:
...I don't think the libs have any idea how this decision angers conservatives and Republicans in this country. They're poking the bear -- the bear of conservatism and Republicans who went dormant last fall.... This has the chance to do more for the Republican Party than anything else in the short run, and the more the Democrats gloat and the more they politicize this and the more they lie about what this case and this trial was about, the angrier they're going to make Republicans and conservatives in this country....
People think Bush will pardon Libby, but they think he'll do what an ordinary president would do: wait until his last weeks in office.
Really? Has no one been paying attention for the last six years? When have the movement conservatives who control the GOP ever respected ordinary political customs in this way?
Whether it's the Texas legislature under the influence of Tom DeLay redistricting between censuses or the Bush administration purging federal prosecutors mid-term, these people have always pushed the envelope, not giving a damn what's customary (or even legal).
The other factor that comes into play is this: What does Bush gain from not pardoning Libby soon? Are you going to think better of him if he holds back? Is it going to help him at all with Democrats and independents -- especially when everyone assumes he's going to do it eventually?
With Democrats and independents, his approval numbers are in the toilet -- but I bet what really sticks in his craw (and Rove's craw) is that he's down 13 points among Republicans since fall.
So while I don't think he'll make a big show of it, I really think he might please the base by pardoning Libby sooner rather than later. And his poll numbers may actually go up -- still abysmally low with indies and Dems, but higher with the GOP.
The conventional wisdom -- that he simply can't do it now -- reminds me of the conventional wisdom that, with regard to Iraq, he couldn't possibly ignore the election results and the Iraq Study Group. We know how that turned out.