The only thing that dampens my cheer at the Scooter Libby sentence is the lead-pipe likelihood of a Bush pardon.
There's a lot of speculation that even if Bush decides to pardon Libby, he wouldn't do so right away.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, "The President has not intervened so far in this or any other criminal matter, so he's going to decline to do so now as well."
Don't believe it.
Here's why Libby will be pardoned well before Christmas 2008, and well before Christmas 2007.
First of all, it looks likely that Judge Walton will not allow Libby to remain at liberty while he appeals the verdict. So Libby could face jail within two months. Bush doesn't want to see him there. Neither does Cheney.
Bush said he "felt terrible for the family." Cheney said he hopes "our system will turn a final result consistent with what we know of this fine man."
Cheney has probably already drafted the pardon letter for Bush to sign—a reward for Libby covering up for the creepy Veep.
Second, Bush and Cheney share a fervent belief in the authority of the Executive Branch, and they won't want to see some trial judge lay low one of the architects of that authority.
Third, many of the ideologues on the right--the neocons and the talk radio slobbermouths—are pleading Libby's case. At a time when Bush is in trouble with parts of his base because of immigration, this is not the moment to alienate any of them any more.
Fourth, Bush can recall his father pardoning Caspar Weinberger and others involved in Iran-Contra. That's a family precedent he's inclined to honor. Noblesse oblige, Bush style.
Bush's dad, of course, waited until the election was over and he was almost out the door. But Papa Bush was running for reelection. Georgie Porgy is not. His decision to pardon Libby won't affect his political future in any directly parallel way.
Some pundits suggest that Bush won't pardon Libby until after the election because it would hurt the Republican Party.
But Bush is more of a gang leader than a party leader. He wants to protect his henchmen; he doesn't care that much about the party. That's why he kept Rumsfeld on even when the defense secretary was costing the party dearly.
Plus, now that he sees even Republican Presidential candidates distancing themselves from him, he'll be less in a mood than ever to abide by the party's concerns.
Finally, Bush likes to defy the logical course and demonstrate just how tough he is by doing the imprudent thing. That adolescent reflex bounced the country into war against Iraq, and it may free Scooter Libby before long.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
© 2007 The Progressive