I can't believe how willing Republicans are to miss opportunities. In this case, the Libby trial. It's the chance of a lifetime for an epoch-marking jump to the moral high ground. And they're throwing it away.
Because the parallels between the Libby case and the Clinton thing are nearly uniform. Lets accept that there was no underlying crime in the Libby case -- as with Clinton. Lets accept that Libby was the target of a politicized investigation -- as with Clinton. Still, Republicans once said, perjury -- lying to the Rule of Law -- is enough of a violation to stick it to the man. Don't lie under oath! Don't lie to the Country! It's not hard!
They savoured that moral high ground, and why not? It's fun to be Mr. Rule of Law!
But now, when Libby does the same thing, they're willing to throw it away to secure his pardon? Why? Bush/Cheney are finished politically, and it's not like supporting them is supporting the future of the Republican Party. His conviction, unlike Clinton's hypothetical conviction, does nothing to the power of the Bush Administration. A pardon would, indeed, play into the hands of Democrats by being extra-shady. I don't see any crafty political reasons at all to support a pardon. Nor have any of the moral force arguments -- Rule of law, don't lie, etc -- changed since the late 1990s.
Indeed, the only reason for Republicans to change their position, as far as I can tell, is because it's a Republican on the block, this time around. That's it! Why give up such an attractive moral clarity -- a moral victory to savor in your own minds for decades to come -- for Scooter Libby?
Throw him to the dogs, and rejoice over the Clinton impeachment. Don't give him up, and look like hypocrites forever