While I was away President Bush commuted Scooter Libby's sentence of 30 months to no jail time. Even as he was doing what I had earlier suggested might serve justice -- since there was no underlying crime proven or even charged, as in the the Martha Stewart case -- he managed to do it clumsily, in a way that makes it look more like a coverup than justice. He didn't wait for a formal request for a pardon or for an appeal to work its way out. He acted in a way different from his record as president (fewer pardons and commutations than most) or governor of Texas, where he almost never issued a pardon or commuted a death sentence. So he looks like a hypocrite, which is probaby not an inaccurate perception.
Slate's John Dickerson, however, has raised an interesting question -- whether it was wise for Bill Clinton, with his record of last-minute pardons (when Scooter Libby was Marc Rich's attorney, in a delicious historical irony) to criticize Bush. As Dickerson writes, "The White House would rather have everyone debating the relative merits of the two than debating the inconsistencies in the Libby decision alone."
Clinton, with his instinct for partisan attack, may just have done Bush a favor.