Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saunders Schools Sanders on the Pardon Power

Bernie Sanders sat with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle recently and, in the final minutes of the visit, Debra Saunders took his temperature re the pardon power. Now keep in mind, the pardon power is not a major campaign issue, but it is perhaps the most unfettered power that a president has - and Sanders is still running for president. In addition, the pardon power is certainly a PR point in the Obama administration, and appears likely to remain a point of interest as the administration comes to a close. Yet - as Saunders describes the exchange - questions about the pardon power seemed to be all over Hillary's revolutionary opponent, like half-ton rhetorical guerrillas leaping from tall trees in the night.

The first question was as soft as a softball could be: had Sanders thought about how he, as president, might use the pardon power? His answer; "A little bit. We have too many people in jail" and they are "disproportionately African American." Does candidate Sanders know pardons very rarely ever spring anyone from jail? A little bit indeed!

Saunders then brought up the stumbling and bumbling of the Department of Justice and Clemency Project 2014. In response, Sanders could only offer up a lame version of the administration's straw man: there are problems ...
“above and beyond commutations. The issue is how we reduce our prison population. The more profound issue is how do we make sure that young people do not end up in jail.” 
Of course, everyone recognizes there are many problems in this world. And there is no such person therein who believes the pardon power will cure them all ... or even most of them.

Saunders concludes, correctly, that Sanders "has not given much thought to presidential pardons." He is, perhaps, too "busy." So, she takes some time out in an editorial to introduce him to it! You will want to read that here,

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