President Obama issued more sentence commutations than his twelve predecessors combined. It might be the case, of course, that Mr. Obama is more far-sighted and humane than essentially everyone who sat in the Oval Office since WWII. Or it might be that Obama's political constituency is more heavily invested in the notion that America is a brutal and racist country that needs a slap in the face to come to terms with its wretchedness.
A tip-off as to which of these is more likely to be the driver might be found in the fact that Obama began his clemency binge in earnest only after November 2014 -- at which point he would no longer be facing an election where voters beyond his constituency could deliver their judgment.
But one way or the other, you can almost hear the other shoe not dropping. That is, where is the media's curiosity about what the drug pushers given clemency are doing with it? We were told their prison records and rehabilitation showed they would routinely become productive family men, good citizens and taxpayers. It shouldn't be that hard to find out. Why isn't anyone asking?
I don't know the answer to that question for sure, but I think there's a tip-off to be had there, as well.
Cocaine trafficker Wendell Callahan did not receive a commutation in haec verba, but he received the functional equivalent of one when his sentence was cut (twice) courtesy of a bill, the Fair Sentencing Act, based in the same skepticism about America's basic decency that underlay the clemency surge. When Callahan used his early release to commit multiple murder, including knifing to death two little girls, the national media simply went blank. I could find local affiliates of the big networks that carried the story, but no news story to my knowledge ever appeared in any national outlet. (I would be eager to be proven wrong about that by any reader who could link me to a national-media Callahan news story).
The Callahan white-out makes a suspicious man like me think that the Obama mass clemencies might have had their own unfortunate consequences, but they're being swept into the media's cone of silence.
I should note some caveats here. First, it's relatively early. As noted, Obama back-loaded his clemency surge, so recidivist episodes are likely to be recent. That, combined with the fact that reliable crime statistics tend to run about a year late, could mean that the press simply has not had time to investigate what our new model citizens are doing (although a major story like Callahan's ought to have been would not need a compilation of statistics).
Second, there's the possibility that the media have been preoccupied with more serious stories, e.g., the conflict of interest that might arise from Ivanka Trump's line of clothing or shoes or perfume or whatever it is. With the press, we need to remember that it's first things first.
Still, should the press find itself able to turn its attention toward recidivist crime by those granted leniency -- crime in its sometimes non-violent and sometimes violent forms -- there is more than one question to ask. This story from Breitbart notes many areas for curiosity.