The arrest of Roman Polanski is the type of thing that the White House wouldn't want to touch with a ten foot pole, but spokesman Robert Gibbs couldn't avoid it when he was asked about it at today's press briefing.
Q: Will the President pardon Polanski? Will he, or not?
GIBBS: I don't know of any pending pardon request, Lester.
Q: Does he believe pedophiles should not be prosecuted?
GIBBS: The President believes pedophiles should be prosecuted, Lester.
Q: Thank you.
Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times writes that his e-mail has been running about 100-to-1 against his post earlier this week that questioned why the Los Angeles County D.A.'s office was pursuing Polanski now, in the face of budget cuts.
"I didn't say Polanski should be pardoned or let off the hook, since what he did was reprehensible. He is guilty as charged. I did say that we should concentrate on doing a better job of tracking down the bad guys who are breaking the law right now in our own backyard. The response to my argument was divided, to say the least. People inside Hollywood nodded their heads in agreement. People outside of showbiz were outraged."
But he challenges the notion that this is a clear-cut left right divide, noting blog posts against Polanski on the Huffington Post and citing the case of G. Gordon Liddy.
He also writes, "President Jimmy Carter, the ultimate squishy moral relativist in the eyes of the right, commuted Liddy's sentence to eight years ("out of the interest of equity and fairness") while LSD guru Timothy Leary, who'd once been arrested and prosecuted by Liddy, cheerfully went out on the lecture circuit with his former adversary to make some quick dough. Liddy now makes his living as a radio talk show host, where he periodically advises good honest citizens -- as he did several times in 1994 -- how to fend off agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, saying that if the agents come armed, people should "go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests."
"We don't need to worry about Liddy anymore -- he's obviously been rehabilitated. But not Polanski. He hasn't served his time. He skipped town, sensing, as most people involved with the case have since concluded, that the judge had his own agenda and was going to bring the hammer down on him. But worrying about judicial fairness when it comes to a sexual predator would inject a layer of complexity into this affair that most people don't want to hear. Call it justice or call it vengeance, but people are town-hall-style angry that Polanski got off scott free, just as they are mad at the bankers on Wall Street who got bailed out -- after socking away millions in profit -- while regular folks got the shaft."
Update: Count Ezra Klein, liberal blogger for the Washington Post, among those who don't buy the Polanski defense.
More outrage at Whoopi Goldberg's comments on "The View" here. She said, "We're a different kind of society. We see things differently. The world sees 13 year olds and 14 year olds in the rest of Europe... not everybody agrees with the way we see things. [...] Would I want my 14 year old having sex with somebody? Not necessarily..."
Peter Bart recalls helping to lure Polanski to Hollywood to direct "Rosemary's Baby," but finding that the director's personal life was like a "living cauldron."
He writes, "Two years ago, I spent time with him at the Cannes Film Festival, and he seemed to be in a buoyant mood. But when I asked him whether he’d ever like to live in Hollywood again, he was nervous and indecisive. It seemed as though he wanted the right to return and deal with the problems of the past. At the same time his life in Hollywood had, in some ways, been a re-run of the nightmares of his past.
"Under the present circumstances, I hope he will never return whether by choice or by mandate of the court. Though I acknowledge that his crime was a hideous one, Roman Polanski is an artist who has suffered greatly, who has caused and survived great danger and who, after all, deserves to live his life."