I have acquired an advance copy of President Bush’s upcoming announcement regarding his commutation of fallen NFL star Michael Vick's prison sentence (note the date of issue and the still-TBD parts). Yup, you read right. How did this document come into my possession? I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. The point is, the statement’s already been written, meaning no matter what Vick’s sentenced to on December 10 (probably a combination of prison time, a fine and probation), he will still have the prison sentence commuted regardless. There’s something strangely familiar about all this.
December 10, 2007
The U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia today sentenced Michael Vick to (TBD). As a result, Mr. Vick will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.
This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.
I respect the federal prosecutors’ efforts. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Vick is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Vick's sentence that required him to spend (TBD) months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Vick. I mean, he’s already lost the Nike deal for God’s sake. In other words, no money. And he will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as an athlete, high-profile corporate spokesperson and private citizen will be long-lasting.
I made this decision not only because I believe Mr. Vick and his family have already suffered enough, but to spare the American people the pain of a tainted NFL playoff season. If that happens, the terrorists win. The lessons of September the 11th show us that not only is America vulnerable, but that America’s favorite pastime and institution is also vulnerable. I do not have to remind any American of the national anguish we suffered by having to endure a delayed Super Bowl in 2002.
The Constitution gives the president the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the penalty in Mr. Vick's case is an appropriate exercise of this power.
Do you think it’s any coincidence that Attorney General Alberto “Gonzo” Gonzales picked today – the same day Americans are glued to their televisions for Vick’s court appearance – to resign? He’s trying to bury this story harder than an Abu Ghraib guard staging a mock burial of a detainee.