Saturday, July 10, 2010
This weekend, he passes a mark set by John Adams way back in August of 1798. That is when Adams granted his first presidential pardon (to a man convicted of larceny). Adams had waited 536 days into his administration before using the power that George Washington used in a somewhat controversial way just as he was leaving office.
Today is the 536th day of the Obama administration and we have yet to see a single pardon or commutation of sentence. Of course, things were way way different back in Adams' day. He didn't have a booming prison population and thousands upon thousands of clemency applications, or an Office of the Pardon Attorney, in a Department of Justice, to process them. Adams wasn't burdened by the complaints of judges, prosecutors and scholars concerning the wildly disproportionate sentences that are the by-product of mandatory minimum sentence law, three-strikes provisions and the like. There was no crack-cocaine sentencing disparity for Mr. Adams to address with the pardon power.
Now Mr.Obama passes Adams in this measure of neglect, and takes at least some of the heat off of the president who found himself directing an unpopular war and wasn't beneath going after members of the media who were critical of his policies and person. Indeed, The Fairness Doctrine would have sufficed for the man who gave us the Alien-Sedition Act.
Hope and Change! Yes We Can!