FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pardon Me?

Despite his platform grin and bouncy walk, Obama is notoriously uptight.  Accredited journalists and news photographers have recently protested the White House’s defensive rigidity so extreme that a NYTimes photographer compares it to the Soviet Union in the bad old days.  Maybe if Obama had let some early air and light into the govt website he might not have screwed the pooch.  Lord knows what Daddy was paying attention to.  It certainly wasn’t his Christian duty.

Obama makes a big deal of his religious faith. “I am a Christian.  “I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith….So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition.”  And so on.  He seems to have forgotten that a Christian’s duty is to forgive and pardon.
OR Book Going Rouge

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:14-15.

In the six years Obama has been president he has pardoned or commuted the prison sentences of exactly 39 people while denying 6700.  (A pardon implies justice gone wrong; a far simpler commutation means no opinion but release on time served.)

As noted by visiting Harvard law professor Sanford Levinson, “Harry S. Truman pardoned his first prisoner eight days after taking office. In contrast, Mr. Obama waited 682 days into his presidency before using his power…”

Look at the contrast with Ronald Reagan who only in his first term pardoned and commuted more than ten times Obama’s number.  George H.W. Bush three times as many.  Former Republican governor Haley Barbour – in Mississippi! – pardoned 215 last year including convicted killers.   “Christianity teaches us forgiveness and second chances,” the very conservative Republican Mr. Barbour explained.

Let’s remind ourselves that Obama begs us to give his messed up Obamacare a “second chance.”

Half of the 210,000 federal prisoners are behind bars due to nonviolent drug related crimes.  Many older non-violent inmates, some in their 80s and 90s, are under insanely harsh, federally mandated “Maximum Bob” sentences.  Attorney general Holder openly crusades against these medieval sentencing guidelines; his boss simply doesn’t care.

The executive’s right, nay its duty, to pardon was built into the Constitution since 1789.  The President can be a good Christian and also save the country $66,000 per elderly low risk (usually very sick) prisoner.

If Obama really wants to go crazy and think creatively why not show a little generosity by pardoning those arch-traitors (or people’s benefactors depending on your bias), Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning who brought down the imperial pillars of Hercules all by their lonesome and a couple of computers?

Since I dislike “activist” presidents who often actively take us to war, I’ve grown a real fondness for some of our historically more disreputable chief executives. After one of our worst presidents, the misogynistic racist redbaiting Woodrow Wilson, we returned to “normalcy” with a supposed nonentity from Ohio, Warren Harding, God bless him.  Historians give Harding a bad time for appointing corrupt pals who looted the treasury, and because, once even in the White House broom closet, he fathered an unknown number of bastards from an unknown number of females some of whom were named Maisie and Blossom.

But old Warren was a decent sort who supported a 40 hour work week and an anti-lynching bill.  More to the point, against fierce opposition from American Legion patriots and his own wife, he pardoned the labor saint, Eugene Debs, whom the vindictive Woodrow Wilson has thrown in the federal slammer for opposing America’s entry into the First War.  Harding not only pardoned the socialist Debs but invited him to the White House for a friendly chat.

Come on, Barack.  You have nothing to lose.  Come January 2017 you’re gone.  Commute or pardon Ed and Chelsea and let’s see what kind of Christian you really are.

(For facts and guidance I’m indebted to Murray Polner, Prof. Levinson, the former WashPost reporter George Lardner Jr., various agency items and Power Pardon blog.)

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives. Sigal and Doris Lessing lived together in London for several years. 

 

More articles by:

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail