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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Coddling Criminals

In light of the president’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, I wanted to quote briefly from an AP story about the administration’s latest crime-fighting initiative, dated June 17:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is trying to roll back a Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation that would require prison time for nearly all criminals.
The Justice Department is offering the plan as an opening salvo in a larger debate about whether sentences for crack cocaine are unfairly harsh and racially discriminatory.
Republicans are seizing the administration’s crackdown, packaged in legislation to combat violent crime, as a campaign issue for 2008.

As Republicans like to say in defense of the mindless, “tough” sentencing policies that have represented virtually their only criminal justice strategy in recent decades: “You do the crime, you do the time.” But I guess that depends on who you are.

One comment on “Coddling Criminals

  1. Matt on

    If I could back up just a minute, I have a question — why the heck does Bush commute Libby’s sentence (he still has to pay $250,000 and serve two years probation) and not pardon him outright?
    I’ve seen a couple places where folks have said there is a certain amount of political sense in letting Libby off. It will appeal to the base and the rest of the country can’t hate him anymore than they already do.
    But I can’t believe that the base is going to be happy with a commuted sentence. They were asking for a full pardon, and once again, the President did not deliver.
    And the rest of the country is pretty outraged over this. I don’t see a lot of liberal (or even impartial) commentators saying, “Well, at least he didn’t pardon the guy.” Folks are pissed and disappointed — just as they would have been if Libby got off completely.
    As with so much else of the Bush presidency, I’m puzzled by the decision-making here.


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