Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saunders: Obama, Holder Racing Toward the Big Ugly

U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder
At the San Francisco Chronicle, Debra Saunders predicts that the "last few months" of the Obama administration are likely to be "ugly." And with good reason.

After all, the Attorney General of the United States is one Eric Holder, the man who played an infaous role in the infamous pardon of fugitive Marc Rich. Says Saunders:
Perhaps, having been pilloried for helping Clinton pardon a well-heeled fugitive and a group of unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists, Holder decided that the second time around, as attorney general, he would advise the president that the best way not to abuse the pardon power is to barely use the pardon power. Since 2009, President Barack Obama has issued a mere 39 pardons for offenders who have served their sentences and one lonely commutation. Obama has the stingiest pardon record of any modern president. 
This dysfunctional approach to clemency, of course, increases the odds of something very much like a Clintonesque last-minute, controversial, pardon bonanza. If Obama does grant just about any number of pardons or commutations of sentence, it will look like a relative splurge. And any hint of controversy will surely be greeted with spectacular scrutiny and partisan rancor. It is just as certain that, during the final months, the pressure on the president to exercise the pardon power, at last, will be relentless.

Saunders notes, for example, that a recent Judiciary Committee hearing featured a Representative questioning Holder about a potential commutation of sentence for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Holder's response was certainly less than stellar and, yes, probably a sign of things to come. See full editorial here.

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