Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You could win a T-shirt--unless our Crook-in-Chief doesn't come through with the pardon his boss the Veep has promised our favorite convicted felon


I was going to write a little item working from the assumption we surely all share now--I assume!--that the reason our Irving L. "Huckleberry" Libby has taken his persecution so stoically is that he believes he has a just-about-literal Get Out of Jail Free card courtesy of his sponsor, the quailmaster himself, "Deadeye Dick" Cheney--in the form of an ironclad assurance that he will never spend as much as tea time in the Big House.

I only caught the end of last night's live Countdown, discovering thereupon that yesterday's events brought a quick halt to Keith Olbermann's vacation. (I fell asleep before the midnight repeat but DVR-ed it.) So I caught only later-broadcast clips of the interview with Ambassador Joe Wilson, but I did see the segment in which John Dean wondered about the timing of Irving's pardon. What happens, he wondered, if all the legal stalls don't stretch the thing out to the end of the Bush regime? And what if our Chimpy, denied the convenience of a final-midnight pardon opportunity, decides not to make good on Deadeye Dick's promise to Irving?

In other words, Dean speculated, what happens if Irving suddenly, for the first time, finds his wrinkled butt pokey-bound? (Okay, those words are probably more mine than John D's.) He allowed for the possibility that hearing in his head the sound of that prison door clanking behind him might "flip" our favorite convicted felon. All this time he's seemed so heroically ready to "take one for the team." It may turn out that he's not prepared to take that one for this team.

Well, that's what I was going to write this morning. Now, however, it seems that wily Al Kamen has seen my Pardon Assumption and raised me a full T-shirt Contest in his Washington Post "In the Loop" column today:

Guess Libby's Pardon Date, Win a T-Shirt

The verdict is in! Now it's time for the In the Loop Pardon Scooter Contest! Yes, simply pick the date that President Bush will pardon Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who, according to federal sentencing guidelines, is looking at 18 months to three years in the slammer.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has set June 5 for sentencing. He has discretion to order Libby immediately to prison or let him stay out until his appeals are exhausted. So, assuming that Bush--who could pardon immediately if he wanted--won't allow Libby to spend time behind bars, he might need to act then.

If not, the next likely pardon time would be when the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit announces its decision on Libby's appeal. That can take many months. The court recently has been averaging about 15 months from appeal to decision. By that schedule, it could rule on Libby's appeal in September 2008, right before the election.

If Libby loses the appeal, Walton may decide then to order him to prison. This would make it decision time again for Bush. It's not a squeeze the White House wants to be in.

The best hope for the White House would be if Libby stays out pending appeal and the appeals court doesn't rule until after the election. Then a pardon might come along with the Thanksgiving turkey or around Christmas.

Send your entries--one date only: month, day and year--to: Ten people closest to the pardon date will receive a coveted In the Loop T-shirt. You must include your name and telephone numbers to be eligible. Deadline is March 14, assuming Bush doesn't act before then.


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