Birth of a Talking Point
Janet Hook, in The Los Angeles Times: “Bush’s action shows that, with a little more than 18 months remaining in his second term and his influence at its lowest ebb, he is still willing to rely on his signature leadership style — one that risks polarizing the country to take stands that satisfy his conservative base.”
Amy Goldstein in The Washington Post: “Still, the president appeared to calculate that he would antagonize his conservative base too severely if he did not provide Libby some form of reprieve, according to people close to the White House.”
John Harwood: “This is not going to be popular with the American public as a whole but Republicans are happy tonight, and I’ll tell you, so is Dick Cheney.”
Massimo Calabresi, Time Magazine: “On the right, the Republican base, which demanded mercy for Libby, will be placated. Had Bush not acted, they would have turned on him, weakening the last pocket of support he has.”
The truth of the matter: Fucking hogwash. According to the new SurveyUSA poll from last night, only 31% of Republicans agree with Bush’s decision. This was a move to keep Libby quiet. It had nothing to do with placating Bush’s supporters.
Who got it right:
The New York Times Editorial page: “Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.
Dan Froomkin: “[B]ush’s decision yesterday to commute Libby’s prison sentence isn’t just a matter of unequal justice. It is also a potentially self-serving and corrupt act.”
It really shouldn’t be too much for serious journalists to follow the story just a little bit before coming to these kinds of outrageously false conclusions. Do they really want to be considered in the same breath as professional shit shovelers like Reynolds?