Friday, December 12, 2008

Watch List: Better Very Late Than Never?

Former Governor George Ryan (R) officially filed an application for federal executive clemency just a couple of weeks ago. The public relations effort on his behalf has, however, gone on for many months. Now, at last, the Chicago Sun Times reports Ryan "will issue a public apology for his criminal behavior while in office during a press conference set for 5 p.m." Former Illinois governor James Thompson (R) will read the statement and do some Q and A.

The Sun Times believes the apology "could be a sign that Bush is considering releasing him." PardonPower says it could also be a sign that Ryan has been informed that he doesn't even have the proverbial snowball's chance of getting a commutation of sentence without such an apology. It might also indicate that Ryan was told that such an apology was necessary from the get-go, but only now has he decided to yield. Finally, it might also be a not-so-subtle recognition that the recent political explosions in the State of Illinois have probably moved the Ryan file to the back of the line.

It seems increasingly clear that George Ryan expected clemency 1) without having to file an application 2) without having to accept responsibility for his actions and 3) without having to admit to his guilt. All of these expectations were, of course, consistent with the public declaration he made as he entered prison: "I am innocent." So, with some irony, the manner in which George Ryan has gone about seeking clemency has revealed (if not highlighted) several reasons why he is - at least arguably - undeserving of such. Regardless, the time has come to adjust public statements to political and empirical realities. See article here.

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