Wednesday, June 13, 2007


There's a lot of piling on in the left blogosphere right now, in reaction to a Huffington Post article in which Robert Bauer, Barack Obama's general counsel, says a Scooter Libby pardon would be a good thing because it would taint Bush in a way he's managed to avoid being tainted by Plamegate.

I'm not going to defend Bauer's argument, which I think is a crock (as Digby says, Bush won't be harshly criticized by the chatterers, and as I've said for months, Bush generally doesn't give a crap about the approval of anyone but right-wingers in any case), but I will say this: Can you blame Bauer for thinking a pardon carries political risks for Bush? He's just reciting what practically everyone in the Beltway thinks.

The Washington Post:

The sentence imposed on former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby yesterday put President Bush in the position of making a decision he has tried to avoid for months: Trigger a fresh political storm by pardoning a convicted perjurer or let one of the early architects of his administration head to prison.

The New York Times:

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 pardon could harm his reputation and spoil his legacy -- our papers of record say so, therefore it must be true.

And by the way, what's the difference between what Bauer published today and what Ezra Klein wrote in March? Ezra:

I'd actually prefer a pardon -- it would focus the historical attention on the Bush administration, leave his legacy stained from the outset, and come closer to harming the prime movers behind the Plame Affair...


A pardon brings the president into the heart of the case. It compels him to do what he has so far managed to avoid: accept in some way responsibility for the conduct of his Administration in communicating with the public about national security and in its treatment of dissent. If the pardon would be politically explosive, then this is what the administration's critics, hungering for accountability, have been waiting for.

I don't recall any piling on in response to Ezra's post. Why is Bauer being subjected to worse treatment?

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