Then, in a couple of sentences we are still trying to decipher, USA Today notes:
Not since Gerald Ford, who approved more than 150 clemency petitions in his first year in office, has a president granted mercy more than 10 times early in his tenure. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each waited about two years to approve a pardon or shorten a prison sentence, records show.Wha? It is well known (thanks to this blog) that President Obama is among the very slowest presidents in history to exercise the pardon power - to date (or 463 days into it) he has not granted a single pardon or commutation of sentence. But presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush were all relative speedsters by comparison (see chart here).
As far as no more than 10 grants of clemency "early" in "tenure" is concerned ... here are some first year numbers for presidents within the scope of the USA Today data:
Carter (1st year) - 69 pardons and commutations
Reagan (1st year) - 51 pardons and commutations
Reagan (1st year, 2nd term) - 35 pardons and commutations
Clinton (1st year, 2nd term) - 23 pardons and commutations
Obama, of course, has been president for more than a full year and, well, all of the numbers above appear to be well above 10 ... at least to us anyway.
Fortunately, the article improves as it moves away from data. Clemency expert Daniel Kobil notes the "incredibly pernicious political atmosphere" makes it difficult to exercise the pardon power, even for presidents otherwise inclined to do so. Rachel Barkow cites "the fear" of "the one case that goes bad" haunting politicians. See USA Today story here.