Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Context: Carter v. Clinton, Pot v. Kettle II

In a previous post - here - we noted the clumsy hypocrisy that surrounded former President Jimmy Carter's criticism of Bill Clinton's controversial, late-term pardons, including that of Marc Rich. We noted that Carter granted most of his pardons in the fourth year of his term as well and that he also granted clemency to a wealthy individual, Frederic B. Ingram, in the face of explicit protests by Department of Justice officials. But Carter's hypocrisy did not simply stretch to a single clemency decision.

Carter complained that a number of Clinton’s last-minute pardons were “quite questionable,” if not “disgraceful” because there was not “any doubt” that “some of the factors in [them] were attributable to large gifts.” Amazingly enough, the Associated Press propped up the criticism by noting that Carter granted no pardons “during the final weeks of his term.” (See AP's erroneous reporting here)

In fact, Carter granted about one third of all of his pardons in the fourth year of his term and over 80 pardons in his final six weeks in office (more than he had in any single month of his administration). On his last day as President, Carter granted pardons to nine individuals, including Peter Yarrow, singer of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, who also happened to be a long time Democratic Party supporter and "activist" (translation: major donor and party fundraiser). Amazingly, Yarrow had filed an application for the pardon just seven weeks earlier! And, yes, that means it was filed at just about the same point in the term in which the Marc Rich pardon application was filed (in Clinton's second term) ... and it traveled just as fast!

Three months after the Yarrow pardon, Parade magazine featured a letter which asked the obvious question to ask: what exactly Yarrow had done to require a pardon and whether or not Carter’s act of clemency was “a political payoff?” Walter Scott’s answer calmly noted Yarrow had “played many benefits for liberal politicians and causes.”

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