Sunday, May 4, 2008

Campaign 08: Another Radical Clemency Recipient

In today's Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman carries on this campaign's tradition of poking around the world of pardons, making "connections" and drawing conclusions. As we know, Mrs. Clinton tried to tag Barack Obama with Weather Underground member Bill Ayers and Obama reminded her that her husband exercised the clemency power on behalf of Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans - Weather Underground members who, unlike Ayers, actually spent time in prison. Adding to the fun, Chapman wonders about Republican candidate John McCain's relationship with another fairly radical individual, G. Gordon Liddy, whose prison sentence was commuted after four years by Jimmy Carter.

Chapman notes Liddy held a fundraiser in his home for McCain in 1998 and has contributed $5,000 to his campaigns over the years. McCain has also visited Libby's radio show, where he was greeted as "an old friend." McCain told Libby, "I'm proud of you [and] congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great." Chapman writes:
Which principles would those be? The ones that told Liddy it was fine to break into the office of the Democratic National Committee to plant bugs and photograph documents? The ones that made him propose to kidnap anti-war activists so they couldn't disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention? The ones that inspired him to plan the murder (never carried out) of an unfriendly newspaper columnist? Liddy was in the thick of the biggest political scandal in American history—and one of the greatest threats to the rule of law. He has said he has no regrets about what he did, insisting that he went to jail as "a prisoner of war." All this may sound like ancient history. But it's from the same era as the bombings Ayers helped carry out as a member of the Weather Underground. And Liddy's penchant for extreme solutions has not abated. In 1994, after the disastrous federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, he gave some advice to his listeners: "Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests. . . . Kill the sons of bitches." He later backed off, saying he meant merely that people should defend themselves if federal agents came with guns blazing. But his amended guidance was not exactly conciliatory: Liddy also said he should have recommended shots to the groin instead of the head. If that wasn't enough to inflame any nut cases, he mentioned labeling targets "Bill" and "Hillary" when he practiced shooting.
Chapman concludes that Obama should "apologize for associating with a criminal extremist" just after McCain takes the lead! See the full column in today's Tribune here.

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