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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Pardon Me

So the pardon season is upon us again.  It's good to be the king, dispensing pardons for crimes large and small.  Though sometimes it seems the main characteristic of a pardonable offense is that it is boring.  How many of you remember or, if you remember, care what Marc Rich was guilty of before being pardoned by Bill Clinton?  Not that a number of these cases are not worthy, particularly those involving victims of mandatory sentencing laws--those folks languishing in prisons for possessing small amounts of illegal drugs (which should, by the way, generally be legal, but that's a subject for another day) or similarly victimless crimes.  But then what we really need is a revamping of that whole system.  If presidents extend pardons to SOME of these people, doesn't it suggest some inherent problem with the sentencing in the first place?  Some inherent problem of which the powers-that-be are NOT unaware.  Heaven forbid, though, that any of these powers-that-be actually speak out against such a system.

Wouldn't want to be seen as soft on crime now, would we?

Question: If Senate Democrats somehow block the seating of Roland Burris, is it an example of racism?  No.  Before the announcement, it had been pretty clearly stated that the establishment would refuse to honor any appointment made by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  So it's pretty clear that any rejection of Burriss would merely represent the fulfillment of a promise (something rare enough in politics, admittedly, but no less logical for that).  One can assume that black leaders, who are warning against a backlash if Burriss is not seated, would not be up in arms if Burriss were on black.

The problem, actually, stems from the hasty (if understandable) promise made NOT to seat anyone Blagojevich appoints, presumably out of fear that anyone selected would be somehow a crony of the governor.  It seems clear that Burriss is not.  Guilt-by-association is never a good policy, and it especially problematic if there does not even seem to be association.  If the man is qualified, seat him.  Deal with the image problems when the time comes.  After all, anyone who is appointed has to run for re-election in a couple of years anyway.  Let the voters decide and move on.

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