The increasingly shrill Washington Post editorial page attacks President Bush for not granting enough pardons. The Post is unable to cite any instance in which the administration denied a worthy pardon request. It relies instead on the number of pardons granted by other presidents.
But here too the Post fails to make a case. It acknowledges in a parenthetical that Bush has actually granted more pardons than President Clinton had at the same stage in his presidency, prior to Clinton’s going-out-of-business pardon spree. Did the Post castigate Clinton on this score at the end of his fifth year?
The Post also takes its favorite cheap shot when it pretends to see irony in the fact that Bush, “a big fan of presidential power,” has not used the pardon power much and has not used the veto power at all. The Post fails to consider the possibility that, in general, Bush may not be a big fan of utilizing presidential power, and does so aggressively only when it comes to urgent issues like defending the country from attack.
In the end, the Post leaves us with evidence that Bush and Clinton were much less prone to grant pardons than Carter, Reagan, and Ford, but no reason to believe that the approach of the latter three is superior. In other words, the Post is simply indulging in more knee-jerk Bush bashing.
JOHN adds: What a weird ground on which to attack the President! If Scooter Libby gets convicted of perjury and Bush pardons him, will the Post applaud the President for finally catching on? I doubt it. I do think that Bush can be criticized for never vetoing legislation, but the Democrats–who purport to be big on checks and balances these days–never complain about this one. I agree with Paul that one of the hallmarks of Bush’s presidency has been his reluctance to use Presidential power for any but the most serious purposes. It’s a stark contrast with Bill Clinton, the first politician to conceive of the Presidency primarily as a means to meet chicks.
PAUL adds: Maybe this editorial isn’t just knee-jerk Bush bashing. Maybe it’s about Scooter Libby in some veiled way.
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