Very Close To The Tree

by digby

All over TV today I'm hearing references to Clinton's allegedly self-serving last minute pardons and how Scooter's commutation pales by comparison. Scott Stanzel in the press briefing put it this way:

Q Scott, what do you say to Democratic critics who say that the commutation of Libby's sentence was intended to mollify conservatives, his own Republicans included, who were beginning to break with him on issues ranging from immigration to Iraq?

MR. STANZEL: Well, if that was what we were responding to, then a full pardon would have been the answer of the day, because that's what many people -- many conservatives were asking for. And that is what the President did not do. He respected the jury verdict. There's still the hefty fine and the probation. And it's interesting to me -- there's much hypocrisy in Washington, D.C., but it seems to me that the hypocrisy demonstrated by Democratic leaders on this issue is rather startling. When you think about the previous administration and the 11th hour fire sale pardons, and issues that were provided commutations on the last day in the numbers of the hundreds, in the final time between the post-election period, it's really startling that they have the gall to criticize what we believe is a very considered, a very deliberate approach to a very unique case.

Q So you're accusing Bill and Hillary Clinton of hypocrisy?

MR. STANZEL: I would say that it is amazing to me that they can -- with what they did on January 20, 2001, they can criticize the President for issuing a commutation -- his fourth -- insomuch as they issued -- President Clinton issued 141 pardons on January 20th; over 200 in the period -- in the post-election period in 2000. It sort of pales in comparison.

That's an extremely compelling argument for sure. But, I think they are missing the boat on this. There is a much better precedent for what Dubya did that actually could make this one pale by comparison.
Remember this little Christmas present?

It's a family tradition.

I must be that I'm losing my touch and not writing clearly any more, because nearly everything I write these days is coming in for withering criticism of a position I'm not actually taking.

I'm not defending Clinton's pardons. I didn't even discuss them or the merits of them. But others are and I've been watching Democrats on television stumble all day because they didn't have a ready quip to hit them with.

I thought that since the Bushies made the mistake of bringing up past pardons, it was a natural opportunity to attack them back by dredging up Poppy's pardons of members of his own administration, which were very controversial in exactly the same way Junior's are.

I'm a big believer in not trying to explain or excuse in these TV debates --- attack the Republicans, right back, with their own misdeeds.