When I read Peter Baker's article on the dilemma any discussion of a Libby pardon presented to George Bush, I immediately thought of how carefully the White House appears to be having this discussion without, legally, having the discussion.
The prospect of a pardon has become so sensitive inside the West Wing that top aides have been kept out of the loop, and even Bush friends have been told not to bring it up with the president.
The White House (or at least Fred Fielding) must be thinking the same thing John Dean is thinking of:
After all, the March 1, 1974 indictment of Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Chuck Colson (who pled guilty, rather than risk a trial) charged each of them with a conspiracy to obstruct justice by offering to provide clemency to those involved in the Watergate break-in. In addition, as Nixon's tapes showed, the president discussed pardons on several occasions, and this abuse of power was included in the bill of impeachment against him that was pending when he resigned. [my emphasis]
Because look at the way Condi called for a pardon on Friday:
QUESTION: In today's Wall Street Journal there's an article by Fouad Ajami making the analogy that -- basically saying that the President's reluctance to pardon Scooter Libby is akin to leaving a wounded soldier on the battlefield. What do you think of that analogy?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, I'm not going to get involved in trying to give the President advice on how he ought to think about this. You know, he has to think about what he wants to do.
QUESTION: What's your own opinion?
SECRETARY RICE: You know that --
QUESTION: You think he should go to jail?
SECRETARY RICE: Look, let me tell you what I think about Scooter Libby. I think he's served the country really well. I think he did it to the best of his ability. I think that he is going through an extremely difficult time with his family and for him. And you know, I'm just desperately sorry that it's happening to him and I -- you know, the legal system has spoken, but I tell you, this is a really good guy who is a good public servant and ought to be treated in accordance with that. [my emphasis]
From Baker, we presume Condi's been warned not to speak to Bush personally about a pardon. So she proceeds to say "I'm not going to get involved," then provides her opinion that that nice nice man Scooter Libby ought to be pardoned.
How nice of the WSJ's editorial board to serve as a cut-out for the Administration's discussions of whether to pardon Libby or not.