Hypocrisy is never a rare commodity in Washington, D.C., but it is hardto recall an event that has occasioned more doublespeak than President Bush’s decision to commute Scooter Libby’s prison sentence. Reasonable people can debate whether the crime of perjury for which Libby was convicted warranted more or less than his sentence of 30 months in federal prison. But is it too much to ask the president’s critics to show at least a minimal respect for logic and consistency?
Republicans who clamored for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for lying about his affair in the White House with Monica Lewinsky may justifiably be taken to task now for merely tut-tutting Libby’s crime. Perjury is perjury, regardless of the position of the guilty or the magnitude of the topic misrepresented. Like every other felony, if you commit perjury, be prepared to do some hard time.
But no GOPer is making as much noise as the chorus of the nation’s most prominent Democratic leaders, some of whom should have Googled Clinton’s commutation record before opening fire on Bush and his Libby decision. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, for example, accused Bush of “betraying the American people” and then added that “he has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law.”
Pelosi had a much different understanding of fairness, justice and the importance of upholding the law back in 1999 when Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 imprisoned members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution of disapproval, but Pelosi said she would have voted no had she been present for the tally.
Pelosi was thus defending Clinton’s commutations of sentences received for seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to make bombs, bank robbery and illegal possession of stolen firearms, among other things. Between 1974 and 1983, FALN mounted numerous attacks against this nation’s police and military, killing six people andmaiming many others.
Then there is Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who saw in Bush’s Libby commutation “a clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.” Clinton touts her years as First Lady among her qualifications for being president, but she has never publicly repudiated either her husband’s FALN commutations or his pardons of Susan McDougall, convicted of mail fraud, and Marc Rich, the stock speculator convicted of tax evasion. McDougall was a former Clinton business partner and Rich was the former husband of Denise Rich, a major Clinton fundraiser, both of whom clearly qualify as Clinton cronies.
Pelosi and Clinton would be vastly more credible on this issue had they simply said they believe the president was wrong and that Libby should be in the slammer, rather than using him to score cheap political points against Bush.