Put aside what you think of the actual commutation of Libby's sentence, because there's something subtler and sleazier going on here. Only yesterday, Commander Crotchbulge defended that commutation thusly (all important bits emphasized):
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
Note well what Bush is saying here -- he can justify the commutation because he is leaving the rest of the sentence in place. Do you understand that? Because if you don't, go back and read it again. That's how Bush is rationalizing what he's just done.
But if that's the case, how does one explain today's position?
White House won't rule out Libby pardon
WASHINGTON - The White House on Tuesday declined to rule out the possibility of an eventual pardon for former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. But spokesman Tony Snow said, for now, President Bush is satisfied with his decision to commute Libby's 2 1/2-year prison sentence.
Now, regardless of what you think of the initial Libby decision, how on earth do you logically defend this latest pronouncement? What does it mean to say one should accept the commutation of the prison sentence because the remainder of the sentence will stay in effect, only to turn around one day later and announce that you might pardon the rest of it after all.
This is not logically defensible. It doesn't matter whether you're elated or outraged at the commutation -- this is simply not defensible. It makes no sense to justify abolishing part of the sentence by saying that you're still leaving the rest in place, then suggesting you might not leave the rest in place in the end.
This is nonsense. Regardless of where you sit on the ideological spectrum, this should piss you off. But I'm guessing the reaction from the dumbshit-o-sphere is going to be predictable.
And it's not going to involve logic.
IT'S ALL CLEAR TO ME NOW: Once again, TPM's Josh Marshall teases out the obvious explanation:
There's only one argument that makes sense of this decision: no jail time. That's the argument. Scooter's price. Otherwise, he might have been tempted to go the Fitzgerald route to reduce his sentence.
And that's the only explanation that makes sense -- Scooter was willing to take the fall for Dick Cheney as long as he knew ahead of time that he'd never have to spend a day in jail. This has all been one long charade, where Libby has known the whole time how it was going to end.