1. The first of the gutlessness observations: commutation by press release? Cojones grande, amigo. I guess this case hadn't attracted sufficient attention to warrant a public acknowledgement.
2. Gutlessness cont. On the week of the Fourth of July? Worse than a Friday news dump, this was certain to go into the black hole of public attention.
3. One more on gutlessness. It's bad enough that he didn't have the balls to pardon Libby outright (the famous poll-ignorer somehow thought this would appease all), but worse that he gave Libby a lecture: " My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged." Of course, Bush is pure grit and energy, a man who was never bailed out by his bettors, so I guess kicking Scooter with a moral boot isn't hypocrtical.
4. Irony: Men rot in Guantanamo with no hope of release--or legal representation--but Bush was concerned that Libby's sentence was "excessive." He's sent dozens of men and women to the gallows in Texas, is proud of his heartlessness toward "evildoers," but when a man with a $500 manicure from his inner circle is threatened with the indignity of spending soft time with lowlifes, Bush found his compassion.
[Update: via Andrew Sullivan, "I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own," - George W. Bush on why he signed death warrants for 152 inmates as governor of Texas.]5. Executive privilege. A traditional Bush MO: cite the opinions of others until they begin to disagree with you, then overrule them. Never allow the cocoon of false reality be sullied by heterodoxy. So follow the generals until they say Iraq's a mess, then find new generals. Say you won't talk about the Libby case because you so deeply respect the rule of law, then ignore it and commute Libby's sentence.
6. What about the BS of drumming out of the White House anyone who had leaked Plame's name? Where does an executive commutation fit in there?