Saturday, July 22, 2017

TIME: Guilty of Boredom

It had to happen, sooner or later ... the always-dreaded, poorly drawn up list of "controversial" pardons ... the traditional creation of journalists without serious time or interest in having any understanding of the history of the pardon power (sometimes these things are done more tactfully than others: see CNN attempt here).

So, here come TIME with its list, "Five Times a President Issued a Controversial Pardon" - Richard Nixon, Marc Rich, Scooter Libby (who was not pardoned), Caspar Weinberger, Vietnam draft dodgers. Notice the tendency to barely see beyond one's own nose. The casual reader might guess such pardons are a rarity, and a recent gig.

In fact, every generation of Americans has seen its controversial pardon ... or nine. The tendency, however, is simply to forget, or to let the specter of Richard Nixon retard one's research skills.

Presidents have granted clemency to child molesters, multiple ax murderers, Nazi saboteurs, persons complicit in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, vampires, wild West outlaws, mafia gangland executioners, a man who tortured and murdered 60 people (one at a time), a Wall Street tycoon who drank a soapy like liquid to simulate the throes of death, who was pardoned so he could go home and die, who then recovered quickly and outlived the president who pardoned him!

Presidents have granted clemency to friends and relatives, campaign advisers and contributors, newspaper men, professional athletes, cabinet members, Hall of Fame race car drivers, best selling authors, movie stars, studio heads, pop musicians ... George Steinbrenner, Tokyo Rose, Jimmy "the Greek," Peter Yarrow ... the guy who produced those cute Boy Scout calendars, back in the day, and the inventor of Mother's Day!

No, TIME, your list of "controversial" pardons is certainly not "wrong." It is simply boring and uninformative.

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