My take (short version): this de facto pardon is only happening so Libby wouldn't start to get sick of prison and start making deals and ratting out his superiors...
Long version follows...
So, not a pardon, but a commutation...hmmm, what's that word mean, exactly? Here's definition #2 at dictionary.com:
the changing of a prison sentence or other penalty to another less severe.
Yep, that sums it up. And it came on the same day that it was decided that Libby was most definitely going to have to go jail.
Just so everyone will know, neither of the words that Bush used to describe his actions--"clemency" and "commute"--appear in the U.S. Constitution. I wonder if Scalia is comfortable with that, given his "strict constructionism" and "originalism." Also, Bush knows that everyone knows what a "pardon" is--that's why he didn't use that word, even though it is in the Constitution. He knows that the rubes don't know or care what clemency and commutation are, so he's inoculating himself against attacks from the right that he's soft on crime.
There seems to be a lot of inexplicable liberal/progressive passivity about, even approval of this commutation. Here's an example at Slate, from a column entitled "Why Bush Was Right To Spare Libby":
This argument is complete crap. Like we're supposed to feel sorry for Libby because he was a high-ranking government official. Well Tim, you dumbass, that's exactly the reason he should receive a more severe sentence--he's supposed to be working for us, not giving out state secrets and then lying about it. He should know better...
"What Bush did [commuting Libby's sentence]was just and fair. It was the right thing to do...
But Judge Reggie Walton went overboard in sentencing Libby to 30 months.
This was about twice as long as the prison term recommended by the court's probation office, and if Libby hadn't been a high-ranking government official, there's a decent chance he would have gotten off with probation, a stiff fine, and likely disbarment."
Not only that, but Libby wouldn't even have been in the position to do what he did if he hadn't been a high-ranking government official. The circumstances surrounding what Libby did required him to be a high-ranking government official, so how is the fact that he was one then an argument for leniency?
Noah's argument above is just more of that power-hungry, you-scratch-my-balls-and-I'll-scratch-yours "coverage" of goings-on in Washington. It's a prime example of that ass-kissing, suck-up-to-power-in-exchange-for-access mentality that plagues our press.
Why not commute Genarlow Wilson's sentence?
If there was ever a good argument for a commutation, Bush should either pardon or commute Genarlow Wilson's sentence. For those unfamiliar with the circumstances, here's a good recap from Wikipedia:
"...[Wilson's]conviction was based on an amateur video tape showing Wilson [then seventeen] engaging in sex with a 17-year-old girl during a private party, and later receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl.
A jury acquitted Wilson of raping the older girl, but convicted him of aggravated child molestation against the 15-year-old. The "aggravated" nature of the charge refers to fellatio (oral sex) rather than a mere "immoral or indecent act." Had the two teenagers had intercourse without oral sex, Wilson would have been charged with a misdemeanor, punishable up to 12-months, with no sex offender status, instead of the 10-year minimum term that the judge gave him.
The 15 year old girl, who has remained unnamed in the press as a 'victim of a sex offense', has repeatedly stated that the act of oral sex was consensual, though she legally could not consent. The jury acquitted Wilson of the rape charge, but as the age of consent in Georgia is 16, they voted to convict him of aggravated child molestation for the oral sex incident, with the forewoman tearfully reading the verdict. Some jury members later complained they had not understood the verdict would result in a 10 year minimum sentence, plus one year on probation."
Got that? Wilson's act was consensual, and had he actually gone ahead and put his penis in her vagina, he would've only been guilty of a misdemeanor and had to serve only a year or less in jail. As it is, Wilson is considered a child molestor and has now been in jail for 2 1/2 years.
Oh, and it gets better. Because of all the negative publicity surrounding the Wilson case, they changed the law in Georgia so that what Wilson did would now be only a misdemeanor. But they didn't make the law apply retroactively, so Wilson's still in jail.
A judge said last month that Genarlow should be released, pointing out the following:
“If this court, or any court, cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish…Justice being served in a fair and equal manner.”
But Georgia's attorney general filed for an appeal of that decision, meaning that the case must now be decided by the state supreme court. And so Genarlow Wilson sits in jail, for 29 months--a month shy of what Scooter's jail time would have been.
I'll tell you why Bush won't commute Genarlow's sentence
1. Wilson is black
2. His case is about sex
3. He doesn't have any inside information on the Bush administration that could get them all sent to jail