against “making hay” from the Libby case

Despite my reservations about the prosecution of Scooter Libby, I think it is lawless for a president to reduce the punishment of his own friend and ally, especially if the administration demands tough and automatic sentences for everyone else. I have no doubt that the president should be denounced for this act. I do, however, have some doubts about whether Democratic politicians should do the denouncing. It seems to me that Republicans are in the national dog house because they have a record of incompetence, rashness, and injustice. But Democrats are also in trouble, because people don’t believe that they can govern. Only about one in four Americans currently approves of the Congress, slightly fewer than approve of the president. More importantly, most Americans distrust government today and are unwilling to give it new responsibilities–which is bad news for progressives. Under these circumstances, I disagree with liberals who say that Democratic politicians should “make hay” by criticizing Libby’s commutation. If I were a Democratic elected official, I’d let the president’s decision speak for itself–people don’t like it. But I’d try to give the impression that I was spending all my time and energy solving your problems: Iraq, education, health care, global warming. “Shenanigans in the White House again? Sorry, but I really can’t focus on things like that right now. We have an education bill we’re working on.”