I suppose that the past week has been a short lesson in how our so-called "government of law" has finally become a "government of men". To quote Andrew Sullivan:
"I have no reason to doubt that Libby is a very nice man, for a perjurer and a smear artist for the powerful. But the law must always count for more than mere friendship. Libby broke the law and undermined the judicial system; and Bush's commutation of the sentence is a clear declaration that the rule of law ends at the administration's edge. Thousands of other perjured felons could get a commutation, but they're not friends with George W. Bush and Marty Peretz. And so they have no chance. The bottom line for Americans is this: George Bush's friends do not go to jail. Your friends do."
If you read the Federalist Papers and the writings of the Founders you will hear quite a bit about the dangers of "faction". Faction was what the Enlightenment politicos called what would we call a "political party" today. I was talking about this with my father on Independance Day and he reminded me that the huge loophole that the men who established this republic left in the Constitution was the one that didn't anticipate a large group of people who would choose to put their own selfish interests and the interests of their group above the general good of the People.
Lying to get us into war, lackeying to their corporate masters, subverting the laws and ignoring them with "signing statements", corrupting and perverting the Office of the Vice Presidency...Mr. Bush's commutation is almost not news, but rather shows, as clearly as anything that preceded it, the contempt that this group of people has for the People and the Constitution they wrote.
Benjamin Franklin is famously to have said that he and the other Founders had given the American People "a republic...if you can keep it."
To the credit of our forebearers, they kept it, more-or-less, for 200-some years. What's our excuse?
Update 7/5/07 9am: Here's Ezra Klein at the American Prospect coming to the same conclusion. His money graph? Here:
"All of which means he is completely free. Save for impeachment, he is utterly liberated from the natural democratic checks on executive behavior.
There is nothing that congressional Democrats or the electorate can take from him that he has not already taken from himself. And, perversely, that gives him extraordinary freedom of movement. Not on all issues -- he will never fix Medicare or solve the immigration crisis. But on Iraq, he is virtually untouchable. And in the arrogation of power to the executive -- a longtime Bush and Cheney obsession, which ranges from secret wiretapping without FISA approval to the commutation of Libby's sentence -- there is nothing standing before their consolidation of authority."