josh marshall: there is a conceivable argument — a very poor one but a conceivable one — for pardoning scooter libby, presumably on the argument that the entire prosecution was political and thus illegitimate. but what conceivable argument does the president have for micromanaging the sentence? to decide that the conviction is appropriate, that probation is appropriate, that a substantial fine is appropriate — just no prison sentence.
this is being treated in the press as splitting the difference, an elegant compromise. but it is the least justifiable approach. the president has decided that the sentencing guidelines and the opinion of judge don't cut it.
the only basis for this decision is that libby is the vice president's friend, the vice president rules the president and this was the minimum necessary to keep the man silent.