Yet, the Obama administration has been an abysmal failure when it comes to pardons and commutations of sentence - not only in the month of December, but all the way across the four-year board. But the president has been busy with the "fiscal cliff" you say. To which we note, other presidents have found time for checks and balances and mercy with important things on their plates. And they didn't even have "assistance" from bureaucrats in the Department of Justice or bureaucrats in a specialized Office of the Pardon Attorney (with a budget of more than $3 million a year)!
James Buchanan granted 25 presidential pardons from the time South Carolina seceded from the Union and the Confederate States of America were formed (February 1861).
Abraham Lincoln took the time to grant 5 pardons in July of 1861, following the disastrous showing of Federal troops in the Battle of the First Bull Run. In early 1862, he granted 7 pardons while his 11-year old son, Willie, suffered (and eventually died) from typhoid fever. Lincoln also granted 3 pardons during the week of the Battle of Gettysburg.
William McKinley granted 7 pardons the same month the United States declared war with Spain.
In May, June and July of 1894, while Grover Cleveland was dealing with the Pullman Strike, 32 pardons were granted.
Herbert Hoover granted 6 pardons the week following the great stock market crash of 1929.
Franklin Roosevelt granted 11 pardons in the week following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt also granted 38 pardons in the three days following the Normandy Invasion (D-Day).