Cole offers President Obama "credit" for having "shown more concern for criminal justice reform than any President before him" - something we are not so certain we can agree with, but are willing to greet with the benefit of the doubt, assuming someone of Cole's stature has researched the matter in some serious way. Unfortunately, Cole then notes, "Obama has approved three hundred and forty-eight commutations, the most of any President in history." Which instantly put Cole in the category of "incompetent and/or lazy" (re this topic, of course).
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So why hasn't Obama been more "helpful?" Cole says "the most immediate" (?) reason is that Obama's clemency initiative "has not been provided with sufficient resources." Cole then adds that "critics" claim "the review procedure may be unnecessarily biased toward rejection." Finally, he notes there are "reasons" to "question" the criteria employed by the clemency initiative. Notably missing from the explanation: Barack Obama, the President of the United States. The one person who can exercise the pardon power unilaterally, any time (before, during or after conviction), for any federal offense, for any reason(s) or no reason at all.
Cole does not mention that Obama retained George Bush's Pardon Attorney and appointed Eric Holder attorney general. Holder brought more clemency controversy mud on his suit to the position than any cabinet member in history (and that we have researched). Nor does Cole mention that President Obama waited longer than almost every other president in the history of the United States before granting the first pardon of his administration. Cole does not mention that President Obama's first term was the least merciful complete term since that of John Adams. While he is want to give undue "credit" re commutations of sentence, Cole says nothing of Obama's outright abysmal record on pardons. And now, at the end of the term, what of the concern that last-minute pardon splurges rarely have a positive impact on the reputation of the pardon power and public trust? Not even on Cole's radar. See Cole's New Yorker piece here).