Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Lewis "Scooter" Libby Controversy Shakes Faith in American Justice

How can a man so publicly involved in the most recent presidential quagmire continue to use Scooter as his moniker? To me, the mere mention conjures up images of hazy country club poker rooms filled with blue bloods having a good 'ol boy time, or a crusty brown insect scurrying furiously across the kitchen floor to avoid a whack from the broomstick. Either way it isn't pretty.

Perhaps that's the point.

No, I don't mean if Libby hadn't bantered his juvenile sounding nickname about the White House all would be right with the world. I'm referring to how one's opinion of the controversy depends upon which side of the political apple cart one stands. It's particularly difficult to intelligently debate the issues when political affiliation so easily tips the equation. Consequently, in trying to remain objective, I have come to view the Libby controversy through a different set of colored glasses. Like I said, it isn't pretty.

Libby got a raw deal, a harsh sentence for way too much prison time. Two years after the story broke, I continue to question whether his actions rose to the level of criminality for which he was accused, or whether the real culprits were his superiors for whom he was forced to take a powder. I decided to put these questions to rest when a jury of his peers issued their verdict. In that I implicitly agreed with the process, it became inconsequential whether I agreed with the verdict.

And perhaps that's the real point.

The American justice system is by far one of the best in the world, if not THE best. If I didn't believe in the system, then I can't very well remain a good little American doobee now can I?

Do I like how our President waited until the final appeals court triggered a jail countdown before invoking executive power to commute Libby's 30-month sentence to probation and a fine? No. Does it matter that he disseminated his royal edict right before the 4th of July holiday, a week when most Americans are vacationing or too distracted to care? Yes. Do I care that our President continues to ponder the possibility of a full no-holds barred pardon? Most definitely.

Leave it be, Dubya, you've done enough.

The most distressing issue, the one Constitutional Fundamentalists and Liberal Democrats likely will shake until they're blue, namely Herr Bush's failure to consult Department of Justice guidelines before giving little Scooter a noogie and a pat, is the one I can't ignore. If Bush had even bothered to follow the process, he certainly would have known Libby's case lacked necessary key factors for a presidential pardon. Sadly, the American people will never know whether that would've made any difference in the outcome of this case. But then why bother with such formalities when it's so much easier to dictate what he in his infinite wisdom decides? The Decider is the anointed one answering to none. He practically said so himself.

Lewis Libby's crimes are as real as Bill Clinton's, yet the Conservative Right deceptively tries to play both sides. In their zeal to protect little Scooter, poster boy for the Bush administration, an administration so power cocky it's become reminiscent of the Nixon era, they've become oblivious to their own hypocrisy. There's a real danger in that; hoping the American public won't notice them trying to wolf down country club cake on the streets.

I'm here to say we've noticed. Proceed at your own peril. It's only the shining example, survived more than 225 years, well-crafted American justice system at stake.

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