In this new essay by Bill Clinton, he explains why he pardoned so many people, including two of the pardons which have angered righties. Clinton's explanation seems reasonable to me, and until I read any convincing critique of it, I accept it. He wrote this in response to the recent explosion of outrage over Bush II's clemency for Scooter Libby, and the prospect of a full pardon to follow. This has triggered Bush supporters to point to Clinton's pardon-o-rama at the end of his final term.
I heartily support the presidential pardon as an executive check on a criminal justice system that we know unjustly convicts many, many people. According to Clinton, he pardoned about 400 people, whereas Bush II has so far pardoned only about 70. These figures both seem low to me compared to all the people languishing in prison who should not be. Clinton and Bush II both in their younger years engaged in activities that harmed no other people (cocaine consumption) but that could have landed them in the clink, with records banning them from many opportunities.
Bush's clemency of Libby does not disgust me, nor would a subsequent pardon, because I think that Libby did nothing wrong or illegal, and the facts against him in court fell far below the "reasonable doubt" standard. But it does disgust me that Bush has failed to use this power to help hundreds or even thousands of even more deserving people with far fewer resources. And as a two-time Bush voter, I am further embarrassed that simply as a matter of political coverage he has not pardoned hundreds of deserving people before and after Libby, just to quell his political opponents.
Just one of a growing number of reasons why I will vote for Ron Paul in the repo primaries, and then the Libertarian candidate in the general election.