... aren't we in part to blame for these surprises, if we never ask how a candidate would use the pardon power during the election cycle? It may well be that the candidates never articulate their views about clemency because we never really ask them to do so. The Barbour pardons should jolt us out of that complacency.See full editorial here.
The televised debates which precede primaries and the general election are the best place to raise this issue. My plea to the moderators of those debates would be this: Once, just once, ask the candidates how they would use clemency, that great unchecked power of the executive. In the end, how a candidate would use the pardon power reveals an important aspect of character. We do not hesitate to ask someone seeking the presidency how they would use the terrible force of war; we should be just as bold when asking about the application of mercy.