President Bush yesterday backtracked on his pledge to let the legal process for I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Jr., run its course, commuting his sentence from 30 months in prison to several days of worrying about how far Mr. Bush would go in granting clemency.

Blawgletter confesses to hoping, forlornly, that Mr. Libby would spend his time in the big house, the hoosegow, the slammer, and the gaol. But we feel a weird sense of relief, too — we imagine because Mr. Libby does seem such a jolly good fellow.

Then we our memory catches on the recollection that quite a lot of bad-doers peg themselves as moral and uprright and their opponents as forces of discord and evil. Yes, Mr. Libby’s story includes elements of tragedy, but he deserves the full measure of punishment as surely as other powerful liars earned theirs.

The only thing worse? The thing that we expect Mr. Bush will do later in his term — grant Mr. Libby a full pardon. Talk about tragedy.

Barry Barnett