Monday, June 28, 2010
The observation may have appeared all the more impressive by the fact that, at the time Bennett’s book was published, the pardoning power seemed to be a thing of the past. Lyndon Johnson granted no pardons in the last seven months of his administration and Richard Nixon pardoned no one in his first nine months as president.
But, in fact, Bennett’s impressive looking statement was little more than still yet another example of a high profile - and otherwise informed person - commenting on the pardoning power without any real clue about the empirical landscape.
Kennedy’s three-year mark of five hundred and seventy pardons was not even half of single term marks set by Woodrow Wilson (second term), Calvin Coolidge (either term), or Franklin Roosevelt (third term). At least fifteen other presidents before Kennedy granted more pardons, including his immediate predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower (second term). Nor did Kennedy set any records for the number of pardons in any single year, or the number of pardons in the first three years of an administration. In fact, Woodrow Wilson pardoned more people in a single year (the last year of his second term) than Kennedy did in all three of his years as president.
Bennett had plenty of “experience” with the justice system, but he simply was not paying attention to the pardoning power very well.