Friday, April 1, 2016

Obama, Eggleston and Person(s) X

On Wednesday, after comparing President Obama's record on clemency favorably with that of previous presidents - who were quite well-known for being among the very worst - White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston walked out the now-quite-tiresome straw horse:
“Clemency of individual cases alone cannot fix decades of overly punitive sentencing policies." 
Tiresome, of course, because it is, quite literally, a position that no one, anywhere, on the face of the entire earth, holds. No, really. There is no such person. Anywhere. One worries that its constant repetition is not a sign of some mild irritation, exasperation, war-weariness, lack of political will or - worse - an attempt to beat down expectations. Did  "Hope and Change" really mean: "Arguably, better than the very worst?"

After the President's batch of commutations, University of St. Thomas (MN) law professor Mark Osler noted:
“Sixty-one grants, with over 9,000 petitions pending, is not an accomplishment to brag about ... aid  and an advocate for inmates petitioning for clemency ... I know some of those still waiting, men who were grievously over-sentenced, who have reformed themselves, and never had a record of violence. My heart breaks for them, as their hope for freedom — a hope created by the members of this administration — slips."
Today (Thursday), at a closed White House briefing on life after clemency, Eggleston spoke briefly and remained oddly defensive about the administration's effort and overall record. He noted, for example that he had "learned" during his "time at the White House" that "every time you do something, various people will criticize you for it." Without naming names, he gruffly noted he was aware that "law professors and various people" remained less than completely content, believing the president has not done enough. He then semi-taunted / insulted those persons by challenging them - if they "really" were "committed" - to step up to the plate and volunteer to represent someone trying to obtain clemency - the very clear implication being that such persons were not serious, sincere, did not really care and, thus, should just shut up. He sarcastically added that it is "great" and "a lot easier" to be a "nay-sayer," but such people should be "more productive."

The Editor of this blog fits into the category of those who remain less than completely content (See Post editorial here), but is no lawyer and will not be "representing" anyone soon. On the other hand, Prof. Osler is, well, shall we say, quite notable for his efforts in the assistance of those who seek executive clemency. He is as weak on that front as Nolan Ryan was with strikeouts.

Who else might Eggleston have had in mind? Just exactly who is under his skin, and why? We are completely mystified.

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