Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Clemency, writ large

In a general sense I am all for clemency - if a person has been given an unduly harsh sentence for their crimes, then clemency is a good thing. But if someone failed to be moved as he signed 152 death warrants, it would seem that they are strangers to ideas like compassion and clemency. If someone can send a mentally retarded man to his death, if someone can mock the pleas of a woman who turned their life around while on death row...it would seem that "clemency" is not, to them, a virtue.

So why, after all that, does Bush turn around an commute part of Scooter Libby's sentence? Was he suddenly moved to clemency? Or was he, as Joe Wilson suggested, participating in obstruction of justice? It seems far more parsimonious to suggest that Bush is merely acting to protect his administration than it is to suggest that he suddenly and coincidentally discovered that "compassion" was something more than a campaign slogan. And does this mean that Bush will engage in further acts of clemency? Is he going to spend the rest of his term in office studying the convictions of other criminals, to make sure that the sentences imposed are not "excessive"?

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