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.