And of course Bush is not the first president to pardon a political crony/subordinate.
But this is the President who keeps reminding the rest of us that we're at war and therefore we have to make sacrifices of liberty. This is the President who pushed two Patriot Acts through Congress, who insisted on the need to tap domestic phone calls, open mail, etc. without obtaining any court orders making it legal. This is the President who said that anyone who put a CIA agent at jeopardy was no better than a traitor and would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Who said, when Plame was outed, that he was going to make sure whoever did it was punished heavily, no matter who it was. This is a President who has fired federal prosecutors for not being aggressive enough in pursuing cases that interested *him*...for not finding crime he, the President, was sure existed (though no evidence of, for instance, voter fraud in those districts existed other than the people didn't vote Republican.) A President who could be indignant at the clemency decisions of former Presidents, who talked a hard line on all criminal behavior but especially hard on anything damaging to national security.
But when it was a White House staffer, one of his own people? Well, then the rules are different. Gosh, darn, that mean ol' independent prosecutor was just too nasty to poor Mr. Libbey....well, yes, maybe he did lie to Congress, but so do lots of people and maybe he just forgot and maybe Plame wasn't really that *important* an agent anyway and....excuse after excuse, coverup after coverup, attempts to shift the blame onto someone else, ANYone else.
It's pretty clear to me (and others) that Mr. Libbey did not come up with the idea of outing Plame himself. No, that disgusting bit of political revenge was thought up by Mr. Libbey's bosses, who managed (in the time available) to divest themselves of critical evidence and offer up Mr. Libbey as the sacrifice. It's also been pretty clear all along, from the outpouring of sympathy from above for Mr. Libbey, that he was not going to be allowed to suffer for his shame. I'm sure his legal bills are being taken care of, his remaining fine will be paid for him if the President doesn't cancel it out altogether, and a pardon next year will deal with a pesky parole situation.
But next year is another election. Note the position of the Republican candidates, every one of which (the last time I looked, a few hours ago) was standing up for Mr. Libbey and the Bush approach to wrongdoing (pretend it was someone else's fault and tell people to move on.) Oh, my yes, that nasty prosecutor, so overzealous, so politically motivated no doubt. In this time of crisis the nation should not be deprived of such a talent as Mr. Libbey (and admittedly, a talent for lying when ordered to do so, and taking the fall for your bosses, is a valuable one for rulers to have available. Whatever other talents Mr. Libbey is supposed to have...have yet to be demonstrated.)
Mr. Bush, in his first Christmas interview in 2001...only a few months post 9/11...was asked what he thought was his biggest mistake so far. He looked astonished and said he couldn't think of any mistakes. (We had ust suffered the worst attack on US soil since the British burned Washington, D.C., and he couldn't think of any mistakes he'd made!) He was asked what was the best thing about being President, and said that now he didn't have to listen to anyone who disagreed with him. That, and consistent dishonesty, pretty much defines his years in office.
It is possible that the application of large amounts of money, manipulation of the courts, and manipulation of the press with some carefully timed "crises" could lead to the election of a Republican again next year. The way some Bush supporters are carefully not looking at the facts about Bush or Mr. Libbey or the sorry and immoral mess Bush and his bunch have gotten us into, it's pretty clear that there's still a base of support for their kind of behavior.
That's what appalls me most.