Distinguished?

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I guess I'm glad that after relentlessly propagandizing on Scooter Libby's behalf, Fred Hiatt has decided that commuting the entirely of Libby's sentence was the wrong thing to do, but I would have traded that small concession to reality for them not making reference to Libby's "long and distinguished record of public service." What record? What distinction? As best I can tell, Libby has done exactly two things in government service -- he's worked for Paul Wolfowitz and he's worked for Dick Cheney.

Wolfowitz performed so poorly at the job of Deputy Secretary of Defense that George W. Bush decided to bump him to the World Bank in order to get him out of his administration, from which post he was later fired due to a combination of corruption and mismanagement. Hilariously, of Libby's two patrons Wolfowitz is the less embarrassing one. Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Libby were all, of course, intimately involved in the fraudulent selling of the Iraq War and the idiotic "planning" for the post-war occupation of Iraq. In their most noteworthy previous collaboration, Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Libby all collaborated on the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance that proved to be so addled that President George H.W. Bush disavowed it.

There's a record of service here, but it's not distinguished. Indeed, at 11-12 years it's not even all that long. Joe Wilson had a long career of distinguished service. Valerie Plame had a long career of distinguished service. Libby had a medium length career that mostly lacked distinction and involved the occasional -- but extremely accute -- lapse into catastrophe, before he found himself resigning because he'd been caught breaking the law.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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