Friday, June 08, 2007

Fouad Ajami in 180 degrees

Conservatives have been working overtime to confuse people about the Libby case. Today Fouad Ajami writes that Bush should take advantage of that confusion to pardon Scooter.
You are not a lawyer, Mr. President, nor is the vast populace out there. The men and women who entrusted you with the presidency, I dare say, are hard pressed to understand why former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who was the admitted leaker of Mrs. Wilson's identity to columnist Robert Novak, has the comforts of home and freedom and privilege while Scooter Libby faces the dreaded prospect of imprisonment.
Translation: People are too stupid to realize this was a perjury case.

The key phrase in Ajami's quote, of course, is "Armitage...was the admitted leaker." If, perhaps, Libby had simply admitted his own role in this case, a pardon wouldn't be necessary. As the Mankato Free Press put it in the best editorial yet written about Libby's sentence, Libby "chose to be dishonest."

Even worse than Ajami's point that "most people aren't lawyers" is his argument that Bush should pardon Libby for political reasons:
The Schadenfreude of your political detractors over the Libby verdict lays bare the essence of this case: an indictment of the Iraq war itself. The critics of the war shall grant you no reprieve if you let Scooter Libby do prison time. They will see his imprisonment as additional proof that this has been a war of folly from the outset.
Ajami's views sure have changed since he said:
We have to send a message that we stand for something above and beyond the hunt for terrorists--that we stand for democracy, we stand for the rule of law and we think that these are universal values.
Apparently Ajami has forgotten that the "taunting" of "vengeful men" often accompanies justice. That Ajami dislikes the sound of those taunts doesn't mean the punishment of Scooter Libby is unjustified and should be overturned.

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