Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Have You Been Pardoned By Ford Lately?

Pardon me for making a bad and outdated joke around an old advertising slogan. Pardon me for speaking ill of the dead. But too many people have been eulogizing the late president by calling him a healer, and insisting that the pardoning of Nixon was the right thing to do.

There is a thing called forgiveness and a thing called justice. This is, or at least used to be, a nation of laws. Everyone from plumbers to presidents were to be held accountable for their actions. The Watergate scandal tested whether or not a president could be held criminally liable for abusing his office. America failed that test, and every president since then has been secure in the knowledge that the worst possible punishment they face is losing a relection.

No President should be allowed to grant a pardon or any form of clemency, with the possible exception of commuting a federal death sentence to life without parole. It is simply one more way in which too much power is placed into the hands of a single individual. There are people who are unjustly imprisoned, but there is an appeals process to rectify that. There are also legislative pardons for rare and exceptional circumstances.

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