Thursday, January 17, 2008

The President: Pardons in 2008

I believe President Bush will pardon more people in the last year of his presidency than he has in any of the other seven years that he has been in office. The source of my belief is purely empirical. Most of the Nation's presidents have done the very same thing. Likewise, I believe Bush will grant the highest number of pardons in the month of December. And, again, the source of my belief is purely empirical (see chart here). The same has been true for almost all recent presidents.

To many, of course, the question is whether or not Bush will grant a full and unconditional pardon to Scooter Libby. Sure, it is reasonable to expect such a pardon, but I am not (and never have been) nearly so certain about that as many others. For example, from the very beginning, I guessed Bush would grant a respite, delaying any more elevated decision as long as possible. I also reasoned that, if the Republicans were to somehow win the White House in 2008, Bush would not be granting a pardon at all. Of course, if the Democrats win, it is another ball game. Still, I think the situation that Ronald Reagan found himself in with respect to Oliver North might be worth remembering.

Finally, there is my "pardon watch list" (here). Do I expect everyone on the list to be pardoned? Certainly not. But what I have done (and will continue to do) is provide, in one place, a list of individuals whose cases have received more attention than others and who enjoy organized support and public calls for clemency. It will certainly be interesting to see what the impact of these efforts will be when all is said and done.

(An earlier version of this post appeared at the Pardon for Scooter Libby? blog).

P.S. Ruckman, Jr.

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