Which Bear’s Chair?

I have not followed the Scooter Libby/Valerie Plame saga closely enough to render a fully informed and considered judgment on President Bush’s decision to commute Libby’s 30-month prison term for his four felony convictions. Not that I don’t have an opinion, mind you, but I won’t claim that it rises to the level of a fully informed and considered judgment.

Today’s opinion pieces in the three national newspapers that I try to follow aren’t much help. They remind me of Goldilocks’ opinion as to the 3 bears’ chairs – one is too hard, one is too soft, and one is somewhere in between.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush should have granted Scooter Libby a full pardon and was “evading responsibility” by not doing so.  A pardon certainly would have been consistent with the hard-right conservative viewpoint.  However, I wonder whether the likes of Limbaugh and Coulter will be able to grasp fully the fact that the WSJ argues for a pardon not because of Libby’s innocence, but because of the White House’s complicity in the affair.

On the other extreme was the New York Times, asserting that Bush’s decision to commute Libby’s sentence was a “baldly political act” aimed at “mollifying the tiny slice of right-wing Americans left in his political base.”  ‘Nuff said there.

Wandering around somewhere in the middle we find the Washington Post.  It suggests that Bush was on the right track with his decision, as a pardon “would have been inappropriate and … the prison sentence of 30 months was excessive.”  In the end, though, the Post concludes that Bush’s decision to commute the full commutation too lenient.  Not too hard, not too soft….

President Bush doesn’t (and shouldn’t) make his decisions by reading newspaper opinion pieces. Indeed, some might argue that he doesn’t make his decisions with the benefit of having read anything at all.  However, for the rest of us who are trying to sort out the various issues by absorbing opinion pieces as well as factual data, this is a classic example of how dangerous it is to get all of one’s news from a single source.  They can’t all be right.     

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