Thursday, August 22, 2013

Times: Disappointment Without Focus

Today, the Editorial Board of the New York Times mildly rebukes the Obama "administration" for having a "low pardon rate." Among other things, the piece finds the "most striking thing" about Attorney General Eric Holder's recent "encouraging" commentary on sentencing reform was that "there was not one mention of executive clemency."

The Times argues clemency is "an indispensable check on the injustices of the legal system and as a means of demonstrating forgiveness where it is called for" and suggests that it was "once used freely." Today, however, politicians compete "to see who can be toughest on crime" and "pardons of powerful, well-connected individuals like Marc Rich, by Bill Clinton, and Lewis Libby, by George W. Bush, have only increased cynicism about the process." [our general cynicism about clemency reporting thus being increased, as Mr. Libby was not pardoned]. Finally, says the Times, "no one seems to know why some requests are granted and others denied" and that:
... it is disheartening that the Obama administration continues to resist calls to remove the current head of the pardon office, Ronald L. Rodgers, despite a finding by the Justice Department’s inspector general that in 2008, Mr. Rodgers misrepresented material information in recommending that the president deny a petition for clemency. 
What we find to be the most striking thing about the editorial is the lack of focus on the person who wields the pardon power, the president himself, Barack Obama. After a world of rhetoric about "hope and change" and awkward (if not inappropriate and/or counter productive) public statements re the Jena Five, Trayvon Martin, Genarlow Wilson and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., what has President Obama actually done to address the injustices that he perceives in our system of justice? How has President Obama - so famous for radical expansions of executive power - used the single, unilateral, constitutional power available to him to document his concern? The answer is that President Obama is (and has been) missing in action. By comparison, George W. Bush was a criminal-coddling lefty.

Franklin D. Roosevelt granted more pardons in the three days following the Normandy Invasion - when, presumably, he was quite "busy" - than President Obama granted in his first four years in office. Consequently, there isn't too much reason to single-out Tough on Crime mentalities, Willie Hortonites, the U.S. Pardon Attorney, Attorney General Holder, or (God help us!) the "administration." When all is said and done, the problem is man behind the neglect, the president, Barack Obama. See full editorial here.


Anonymous said...

President Obama should talk to Gov Quinn in IL and take some lessons about how to give people a second chance. Using the pardon system is apart of his job that he has failed on, so much for his campaign on CHANGE, shame on you President Obama...

ThinkerBill said...

Mr. Obama could now step before the mikes and cameras and, with a few words, truly lead us Americans.

He has the bully pulpit and the absolute power to grant Presidential Pardons... he could thus create a great presidency by leading us toward a change in attitude here in America.

Congress is now needed. He has the authority.

"I hereby grant pardon."

Anonymous said...

The New York Times has reporters who have access to the President so why don't they ask him whats going on?

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