Yesterday, baseball home run king Barry Bonds was indicted by a federal grand jury on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for his testimony about his use of steroids. He faces up to 30 years in prison. White House spokesman Tony Fratto immediately rushed out this statement:
“The president is very disappointed to hear this,” Bush spokesman Tony Fratto said. “As this case is now in the criminal justice system, we will refrain from any further specific comments about it. But clearly this is a sad day for baseball.”
The White House response to Bonds’ case recalls their reaction to the indictment of Scooter Libby. Libby too was charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. Bush said, “We’re all saddened by today’s news.” Cheney expressed his “deep regret” that Libby had to resign.
Libby was of course found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 30 months in jail, but before he served a day in prison, Bush commuted his sentence. Tony Snow claimed that Bush’s commutation order was issued on the “basis of principle.” So will the White House now operate on that same principle and also consider commuting Bonds’ sentence if he is convicted? And if not, why should he be treated differently?
Rick Mease writes in the Baltimore Sun:
So what makes Bonds different? … His biggest mistake? Breaking a record. And maybe not looking quite enough like Scooter Libby.