As you probably know, a federal judge (nominated by GWB, though I wouldn’t read too much into that) has sentenced Scooter Libby to 30 months in prison and assessed a hefty fine. He is also disinclined to acquiesce in Libby’s request that he stay out of prison pending an appeal, but will decide that soon. This is surprising, to say the least.
Until I heard about Judge Reggie Walton’s apparent obduracy about letting Libby stay out of prison pending an appeal, I had expected President Bush to pardon him as soon as was politically possible (which is to say, after we know who his successor will be). But if Walton compels Libby to begin to serve his time before his appeals are exhausted (why? is he a flight risk? a danger to the community? likely to repeat his offense?), he will force Bush’s hand.
And I think that, if it comes to that, the President ought to act sooner, rather than later. Let the political fallout come now, and pass long before the 2008 campaign. Let Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson have their last (one hopes) fifteen seconds now, rather than later. Let the Democrats scream and reveal their petty vindictiveness now...though, gosh, there’s a political reason for postponing the pardon. But no, I won’t give in to the temptation to call for a pardon only when it can achieve the maximal political effect.