Scooter Libby: It's All About Bill

With all due respect to my friends on the right and to the conservative writers I admire, stop arguing the legal details of Scooter Libby’s conviction. Enough already.  Who cares? What’s done is done. Libby was convicted, his sentence was commuted, Democrats have gone from bitter to bitterer. So let’s take this opportunity to put the story of Scooter into greater context. A context of the present and the future, not just the past.

Clemency for Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff can only be bad news for Hillary Clinton. Witness how her husband just couldn’t help from weighing in on a topic that reminds Republicans just why we found the Clinton dual presidency so abhorrent. I confess, I’d almost forgotten how distasteful Bill and Hill were until President Bush’s commutation got me thinking about the slimy cast of characters that distinguished the Clinton presidency. 

My advice to opinion leaders on the right is to stop debating the meaning of “is” and start putting pressure on the Democratic presidential candidates to describe what their philosophy would be on presidential pardons if elected in November 2008. Get them on the record now. Force them to define what their policies would be. And for heaven’s sake, put them in the position of describing how each of them, whose last name isn’t Clinton, would issue pardons separately and distinctly from former President Bill Clinton — particularly those less popular candidates who voted to condemn his pardoning of 16 Puerto Rican terrorists back in 2001.

Sometimes Republicans are too smart for their own good. They’re the kids in the class who always have to be right and who will argue ad nauseum about minutiae just to prove their intellectual credentials — even when no one asked to see them or much less cares. Conservatives would do well to stop arguing and to start asking questions. An inquisitive conservative is so much more interesting and useful than a GOP know-it-all.

Surely I’m not the only voter who’s curious to know how a President Obama would use his presidential pardoning authority. Mostly, I wonder how many times Bill Clinton’s record in office can be challenged before he holds a press conference and waves his finger at the camera, squinted eyes glaring into the lens of America, and tells you how right he was when he ran the country. How much longer before Bill Clinton, a man whose two terms in office were not vindicated by an Al Gore landslide win in 2000, says flat out, “If you liked me as president, and the poll numbers show you did, elect Hillary and you’ll get that third Clinton term I know you wanted.”

So before you utter another word about Scooter Libby, dear GOPer, first ask yourself, “How can I make this about Bill?” You know the former president is already asking the same question.