Byron York says "the base" wanted a full pardon of Libby and a political denunciation of the entire probe into the leaking of a CIA agent's identity:
"We specifically don't want an executive to re-try a case and decide he knows better than the judge or jury," says Vin Weber, a sometime White House adviser. "We want the executive to take a broader national interest into account -- something that needs to be taken into account that a judge or jury couldn't properly take into account."
In other words, if Bush had pardoned Libby because the CIA leak probe never should have happened, fine. But don't play judge, Mr. President - that's not your branch.
But Bush urged the investigation himself, didn't he? And famously said he'd fire the leakers. How could he now denounce it? As for the base, by the way, I'm not convinced that most grass-roots Republicans are eager for a full pardon of a perjurer. Only the Republican beltway establishment wants that. Because he's their friend. And their friends are not the kind of people who do time.