The Quality of Mercy
Pardon me; I thought I’d said enough about former President Bill Clinton. But his use of the presidential pardon power is in many cases just wrong — pardoning people merely on the basis of political connections and large campaign contributions.
“The quality of mercy is not strained,” Shakespeare tells us, but Mr. Clinton strains and reaches and contorts. As an attorney for several of those pardoned said, “You had to be on the inside.” Some even speculate that had the scandal-ridden Clinton not been able to cut a deal with the independent prosecutor on his last day in office, he might even have pardoned himself.
Why does that not seem far-fetched? The whole disgusting spectacle has led some to say we should end the presidential pardon altogether.
I disagree, and say to our new president: Use the pardon. But not as a sneaky means of bailing out cronies and contributors and the connected.
President Bush, use it to help the victims of injustice. Our justice system is the best on the globe, but every day it makes mistakes. And there are cases where a crime has been committed but the punishment meted out isn’t serving anyone.
Mr. President, use the presidential pardon in a way that will show us what is in your heart, not just who is “on the inside” of your Administration. Let the quality of mercy be not strained. And let it be guided by justice.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.