Saturday, July 10, 2010

SHOCK: Obama Passes John Adams in Clemency Neglect

Barack Obama continues to make history in extraordinary ways!

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.

Incidentally, Obama has passed John Adams and 39 other presidents, because, well, on average, it has only taken presidents about 100 days to discover the wisdom of the presence of the pardon power in our Constitution. Consequently, only two modern presidents have been slower to pardon than Barack Obama: George W. Bush (whose tarnished legacy is a full time preoccupation for Obama) and Bill Clinton (who may have very well left us the most disastrous clemency episode in history). If Obama waits to pass out "Christmas Pardons," he will pass Bill Clinton as well, leaving Obama, once again, tied to the legacy of Mr. Bush.

Hope and Change! Yes We Can!

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