This New York Times editorial
spills the beans on the realistically possible scope of Pres. Obama's plans for mass clemency. Its most revealing sentences are:
After seven years in office, Mr. Obama has issued
a total of 184 commutations and 66 pardons -- more grants, as the White House wasted no time in pointing out, than the last six presidents combined....By the administration's own estimates, [however], as many as 10,000 people could be released under the new criteria, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told The Washington Post
this month. So why is Mr. Obama continuing to make grants in the single or double digits?
The NYT misses the obvious answer to this question. Mr. Obama, a shrewd politician if nothing else, is waiting for Republicans, sometimes (and often aptly) called the Stupid Party, to give him political cover. He knows that, at his urging and with his support, the Republican Senate is considering its own mass clemency, to wit, a bill that would significantly lower sentences and do so retroactively. That this is markedly unpopular with the public
has not sunk in with the Stupid Party, at least not yet.
Why should Mr. Obama take the (fully deserved) political risks of mass clemency when the Stupid Party will do the work for him -- and take the blame too? Mr. Obama can kill two birds (actually, three) with one stone -- he'll stoke his core liberal interest groups, weaken America with more crime, and quite plausibly pin it all on the political opposition!
Republicans often chide Obama for being full of himself. But if he pulls off a trifecta like that, who could blame him?
The only fly in the ointment is that Republicans might wake up at the last minute and make Obama do the lifting for, and take ownership of, his own pro-criminal agenda. True, revived alertness from Republicans will do nothing to save the country from the Presidentially-engineered recidivist crime wave -- this on top of the present murder and heroin crime wave -- but it will have at least the virtue of pinning responsibility for it where it belongs.
Will the Republicans wake up? Some, like Sen. Mike Lee, seem too ideologically dug in to hear the alarm clock. But there is realistic hope that more serious men, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will understand how Republican-sponsored mass clemency will weaken both the Party, and more importantly, the country, and let the Senate sentence reduction bill die the quiet legislative death it deserves.
That way, if and when Obama goes through with his mass executive clemencies -- say, the day after the election we're having in ten months -- at least it will be clear who owns the ensuing recidivism spree.