Framing the Dialogue

A Tale of Two Pardons

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . .
                                                                  Charles Dickens

It was the best of times,

I heard on the news today that President Bush (yes he still is President) commuted the sentences of two border guards, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.  The trial, conviction and sentencing of Ramos and Compean became a rallying point for many who believe that our elected politicians want open borders. 

Glenn Beck has taken this case to the people with his frequent broadcasts on their behalf.  The main witness in the case is a drug dealer who continued to deal drugs while testifying.  His plea deals allowed him to freely travel between the countries.  There certainly seems to be a great deal about this case that we do not know about.

At best the prosecution and conviction of the border guards sends a message to border guards that they should not pursue their charge to protect the borders.  At worst, it is an attempt to completely open our borders.

Bush’s action today was not technically a pardon, but it perhaps sheds light on what this authority should be used to address.  I would like to note that both Democrats and Republicans were calling for the pardon of Ramos and Compean.  It has not been explained why it took so long to pardon these men.

it was the worst of times,

If you contrast some of the more high profile pardons that former President Clinton offered, the darker side of presidential authority may be exposed.  Consider the most famous pardon, Marc Rich.  A series of articles from the New York Times (yes the Gray Lady criticized Clinton) outlines the seedier side of the Clinton pardons.

“The hearing yesterday before the House Committee on Government Reform made it clearer than ever that President Clinton’s decision to pardon Marc Rich, the fugitive commodities trader, was an inexcusable abuse of the president’s absolute clemency power.”

“Mr. Quinn [lawyer for Marc Rich] testified that he had advised Eric Holder, then the deputy attorney general, that he was approaching the White House on Mr. Rich’s behalf, but that is no substitute for following the rules other clemency seekers, who may not have donated a million dollars or may not have hired the president’s former lawyer, must follow. For his part, Mr. Holder had no good explanation for his failure to learn more about the merits of the Rich case from prosecutors in New York before declaring his neutrality on the issue. He simply said he did not pursue the matter because he thought Mr. Rich’s case was such a long shot on the merits.”

Mr. Rich’s pardon is perhaps the most famous act by President Clinton, but it is perhaps not the most disturbing.  Did you know that he pardoned his brother? 

Take the time to read the disturbing tale of pardons issued during Clinton’s final days in office as published by the New York Times.

Please note that Eric Holder, who was involved in allowing the Rich pardon, is Barack Obama’s choice to be our new Attorney General.

it was the age of wisdom,

To Mr. Holder’s credit, he did say at his recent congressional hearing that “I’ve accepted the responsibility for making those mistakes,” “Given an opportunity to do it differently, I certainly would have. That was, and remains, the most intense and searing experience I’ve ever had.”

I can appreciate learning from a mistake; I have a hard time accepting this excuse.  I actually find myself agreeing with Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Spector;

“Given the background of this man, it’s hard to brush it off — it seems to me — as a mistake,” Specter said. “Given your experience, your background, your competency — and the surrounding circumstance of President Clinton looking for a cover — how do you explain it beyond simply ‘a mistake’?”

it was the age of foolishness. . . .

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