Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Recent commentary: the Commutation

Was President Bush right in commuting Lewis Libby's sentence?

(published 9-Jul-2007, Appleton Post-Crescent)

He certainly has the Constitutional right. Joe Wilson, Plame's husband, can spout off all he likes about a congressional investigation, but the President's power to pardon is absolute. What's fascinating to consider is what someone else might do with the pardoning power. Hillary Clinton said last month that "Nonviolent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons." Sounds like all the pot smoking Democrats in Leavenworth might have freedom to look forward to. But just 4 days later she said: "This commutation sends the clear signal that ... cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice." Not that I understand what that means, exactly, but it seems that certain non-violent offenders, namely Republicans, deserve prison. Ex-President Clinton pardoned actual violent criminals, Puerto Rican terrorist bombers, just before his wife's Senate race in New York, a stronghold of Puerto Rican votes. Might cynicism trump justice, too? But that's different: they vote Democrat.

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