Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Comment: Land of Lincoln Not High on Ryan Pardon

John Kass has graced the Chicago Tribune with an editorial that is hard to beat for sheer over- the-top hyperbole. He writes that former Governor George Ryan "got more than a fair trial," indeed he got a trial that was "more fair than any defendant" Kass has ever seen (no sample size is reported). Kass also complains that Ryan deserved more that the six and a half year prison sentence that he got - which, the cynic might note, seems to suggest some aspect of the case wasn't so fair after all. Says Kass:

So if Bush pardons Ryan, Illinois taxpayers can ask only that the former governor's arms be sewn shut, in a circle, draped over Bush's neck and fixed there, the hulk and weight of Ryan's bulk to hang against the president for years.
Not likely, Mr. Kass. Political memory will die just as fast as it always has. You can bet on it. Why, Ryan was a rosey cheeked choir boy compared to Richard Leche. But who has every heard of Richard Leche? Need we even ask who pardoned him? Of course not. Marvin Mandel. Who? J. Fife Symington? Zzzzz. No need to get too upset about all of this.

Kass notes President Bush "commuted the sentence" (meaning "commuted the prison sentence") of Scooter Libby who was convicted during the investigation of the outing of a CIA officer (meaning "an investigation which resulted in no one being charged, much less convicted, for having committed an underlying crime") for political reasons by the Bush White House" (meaning "outed by Richard Armitage, a critic of the War in Iraq"). In Kass' view, "To do the same for Ryan would not only be amazingly cynical and coercive, but it would destroy what little remains of the Illinois GOP."

I am guessing - given the very odd construction of the Scooter Libby case - preserving what little remains of the Illinois GOP is not a very high priority for Kass. But the notion that pardoning Ryan would have a significant impact on Illinois politics is fanciful and clearly wishful thinking. The State GOP has been in terrific disarray for some time now and the candidacy of Barack Obama overshadows anything and everything related to George Ryan. A Ryan pardon (or commutation) will be in and out of the pages of the Tribune in a matter of days, maybe even less than a week. The pardon of Dan Rostenkowski - Oh yeah, remember him? And what was he charged with? - hardly put a dent in the pages of the newspapers of Illinois.

In addition, Kass' ultimate dream neglects the fact that the current Governor (Blagojevich, a Democrat) is his own can of worms. The citizens of Illinois are not discussing recall because the Democrats are standing on the corpse of the Republicans. When all is said and done, Blagojevich's pardons might very well get as much attention as a George Ryan pardon. And Blagojevich's non-use of the pardon power has already gotten (and will continue to get) attention from the federal court system.

Buying into the melodrama, former state Sen. Steven Rauschenberger (R) says an act of clemency on behalf of George Ryan would "remind everybody about the drawn-out trial, the whole process to rid Illinois of that kind of pay-to-play politics." For that reason, he also says:
"I would ask that President Bush not consider a pardon or commutation of sentence for Gov. Ryan. As a state, we've been through enough. As a party, we've been through enough."
One wonders how Abraham Lincoln might have responded to such commentary. No pardon for Ryan because the State Party has been through enough. Wow. Now that is a compelling justification. See the Kass editorial here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Leche was really an operator. He had the machine until he was finally prosecuted. Interesting to note that in 1961 he called an offered condolences to the man that prosecuted hime. Said the prosecutor was a man of high morals and integrity and he held no ill feelings. More about Leche and the man that prosecuted him at www.thomastfieldsjr.com .

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