President Bush’s commutation of the 30-month prison sentence of former vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby fit the pattern set by his predecessors.
And the reaction to these acts of clemency had a familiar ring.
Compare “the arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking” to the statement that the president “will never live down the arrogance of his final departure.”
The first “arrogance” quote came Monday from Democratic presidential contender Bill Richardson. The second quote came from Jim Webb, now the Democratic senator from Virginia, criticizing Clinton’s pardon of Rich in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in 2001.
So...to Curry (and with the vast majority of the press) there is a simple algebra, Bush = Clinton. Yet, this couldn't be further from the truth. There are two major differences here:
- Clinton was a hell of a lot more popular than Bush is. Bush is seen as a stubborn dolt, while Clinton was seen as a vibrant, popular (though personally flawed) leader.
- The circumstances surrounding the two are vastly different. With Clinton, the criticisms levied against him were part of a conservative witch hunt. The country had just endured 6 years of endless partisan investigations, which yielded nothing substantive. With Bush, the leak investigation yielded real findings and revealed that the White House was willing to subvert national security in order to retaliate against a critic.