Would we have seen this article a year ago?
Bush spares Wagner 280-month jail term
President Bush spared Gregory Wagner from prison Monday, commuting his 23-year-and-four-month sentence while leaving intact his conviction for molesting children.
Mr. Bush’s action, announced hours after a judge sentenced Mr. Wagner, former scoutmaster for Los Altos-based Boy Scout Troop 31, came as a surprise to all but a few members of the president’s inner circle. It reignited the passions that have surrounded the case from the beginning.
The commutation brought immediate praise from conservatives, who hailed it as a courageous step to avert a miscarriage of justice, and condemnation from Democrats, who said it showed a lack of accountability and respect for the law.
The president portrayed his commutation of the sentence, which fell short of a pardon and still requires Mr. Wagner to pay a fine and be on probation, as a carefully considered compromise.
“I respect the guilty plea,” Mr. Bush said in a statement. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Wagner is excessive.”
Mr. Wagner, who was a Boy Scout leader for Troop 31, will still have to pay a fine and remain on probation for several years. He will most likely never again be able to lead Boy Scout troops.
The president’s decision means that Mr. Wagner, 43, no longer faces the prospect of leaving his wife and two children to report to prison.
Mr. Bush’s decision drew warm support from Mr. Wagner's friends and supporters, who had created a defense fund that drew the support of dozens of prominent Republicans, including a half dozen former ambassadors and several former government colleagues. Former Senator Fred D. Thompson, now an undeclared candidate for president, held a fund-raiser for Mr. Wagner.
“This is not a man who deserves to go to jail in any sense of the word,” said Kenneth L. Adelman, a former Defense Department official and longtime friend of Mr. Wagner, who stayed at his Colorado vacation home before his trial.
“Whatever he did wrong, he certainly paid,” Mr. Adelman said referring to Mr. Wagner's resignation from his prominent position and his public humiliation. “This is a good person who served his country very well and is a decent person,” he said.
[UPDATE: July 4 (Freedom Day), 1:27 p.m.]
Today's New York Times makes the point more clearly, and Joe Biden has the government's position in a more analogous case on his blog. Both, however, lack the local angle NOE readers expect.