Monday, July 02, 2007

Oh, Come On

No doubt loudmouths like me are everywhere firing up their adenoids in response to the news that President Bush has commuted the sentence of Louis “Scooter” Libby, claiming that thirty months in prison was just excessive, so I’m pretty sure anything I might say is already being said somewhere else and probably more perspicaciously.

My goal here, therefore, is to—rather than rant about the injustice of it all and how once again the Bush administration demonstrates total contempt for the rule of law—try to get inside the head of the President (now there’s a lonely, scary place) and imagine the justification for his decision and what implications this might have for other people who are facing incarceration.

Taking Bush at his word (already this is making me kind of queasy), we have to accept that he sincerely believes that Libby is being punished enough via conviction and monetary penalties and that prison represents, essentially, cruel and unusual treatment. I would feel this way, too, if one of my buddies were being sent to jail for something I didn’t really think was all that bad, so, the question then becomes: who gets to decide appropriate sentencing?

Apparently, Bush believes he knows better than the presiding judge what’s fair and, in principle, there’s probably something to be said for the compassionate perspective a friend has in such assessments.

But then again, if people with a vested interest to those involved get to decide, shouldn’t Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson have a say?

Perhaps the debate over this decision will break down between those who justify punishment on retributive grounds—bad behavior warrants punishment—and those who justify it on deterrence grounds—punishment is meant to discourage similar acts.

People might argue that if Libby doesn’t do time, then he (or others) might be more inclined to obstruct justice in the future. But I guess that’s not a worry for the Bush administration.

There’s now way they could do more of that.

to go: 135
days remaining: 182


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