July 3, 2007

The Libby Decision: Dispensing With The Lip Service


This was the lead shot of Tony Snow on this morning’s YahooNewswire.  Although it was taken at a press briefing on June 27th, it is an interesting placement in light of the shocking, if not surprising news of George Bush commuting the prison sentence of Scooter Libby.

Beyond the arrogant and hypocritical decision itself, the clandestine way it was made and executed only lends momentum to the Administration’s rapid erosion.  This dead-of-night action, albeit one that was bound to inflame next-to-everybody, only reinforces how a renegade, if overly image-conscious Administration dispenses so easily with protocol.

As the NYT reported this morning:

The commutation seemed to catch Justice Department officials, and even some of Mr. Bush’s closest aides, off guard. At the Justice Department, several senior officials were on their way out of the building shortly before 6 p.m. when news flashed on their Blackberries. They were floored.

At the White House, Tony Snow, the press secretary, said he did not know who was consulted, or how the decision reached. Asked if Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, had been advising Mr. Bush on the matter, Mr. Snow said, “My guess is Fred did, but I’m guessing with you right now.”

The fact that Snow and the White House are askance, with Snow’s one hand up in a “what can I tell you” gesture, is wonderfully fitting.  In fact, it speaks well to the larger dynamics of this story, including Bush’s impulsivity; another F.U. to the legal-judicial system; and a telegraph of the Administration’s new governing stance, best characterized as: “what the hell.”

(Sorry to bump the pseudo-summit.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the Kennebunkport Putin-Bush picnic.)

(image: Ron Edmonds/A.P. Wednesday, June 27, 2007. via YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
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