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Pardon Me, Mr. President?

March 27, 2013 by  

An irony of the Administration of President Barack Obama is the President’s parsimonious attitude toward one of the office’s most distinguished powers: the Presidential pardon.

According to an analysis by Reason, Obama’s record on extending clemency is unmatched for stinginess.

Of the 43 U.S. Presidents who preceded Obama, only George Washington, William Henry Harrison and James Garfield pardoned fewer people than the current President has done through a single term in office.

An Illinois political science professor explains that those three examples would be hard for any President to match: as our Nation’s first President, Washington likely didn’t receive many clemency requests; Harrison died after serving one month in office; and Garfield made it four months before he was shot.

Where does that leave Obama?

Way behind Republican bulldogs like Richard Nixon and George (take your pick) Bush:

The odds of winning a pardon from Obama so far are 1 in 59, compared to 1 in 2 under Richard Nixon, 1 in 3 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, 1 in 5 under Ronald Reagan, 1 in 10 under George H.W. Bush, 1 in 5 under Bill Clinton, and 1 in 13 under George W. Bush.

The President of social compassion and second chances is one tough customer when it comes to clemency.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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