Monday, July 09, 2007

If "consistency is the hobgloblin of small minds," what size mind does Bush have?

Bush’s mind is large enough (and apparently roomy enough) to change it about what standards should govern commutations of sentences or pardons.

Yesterday. The New York Times article, For Libby, Bush Seemed to Alter His Texas Policy, by Adam Liptak, exposed Bush’s position on commutations and pardons as the former governor of Texas.

Excerpts: "As governor of Texas, though, Mr. Bush discussed and applied a consistent and narrow standard when deciding whether to issue pardons and commutations. And that standard appears to be at odds with his decision in the Libby case....

"In the six years that George W. Bush was governor of Texas, a state that executes more people than any other, he commuted a single death sentence and allowed 152 executions to go forward. He also pardoned 20 people charged with lesser crimes, said Maria Ramirez, the state’s clemency administrator. That was fewer than any Texas governor since the 1940s....

"In commuting Mr. Libby’s sentence, Mr. Bush said he had found it excessive. If Mr. Bush employed a similar calculus in Texas capital cases, he did not say so. Even in cases involving juvenile offenders and mentally retarded people, Mr. Bush allowed executions to proceed, saying that he was satisfied of the inmates’ guilt and that they had received a fair hearing.

"The United States Supreme Court has since barred the execution of juvenile offenders and mentally retarded people as a violation of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment....

"Mr. Bush made many of his decisions in Texas based on case summaries prepared by his legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, now the attorney general of the United States. The 57 summaries were examined in a 2003 article by Alan Berlow in The Atlantic Monthly. Mr. Berlow found that they were relatively brief, often dwelt on the details of the crime and sometimes omitted information that lawyers for the inmates said was crucial. Mr. Bush apparently rarely reviewed the inmates’ actual clemency petitions.*"

Also, Frank Rich, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, wrote A Profile in Cowardice in which he excoriated Bush for commuting Libby’s sentence. His opening paragraph: “There
was never any question that President Bush would grant amnesty to Scooter Libby, the man who knows too much about the lies told to sell the war in Iraq. The only questions were when, and how, Mr. Bush would buy Mr. Libby’s silence. Now we have the answers, and they’re at least as incriminating as the act itself. They reveal the continued ferocity of a White House cover-up and expose the true character of a commander in chief whose tough-guy shtick can no longer camouflage his fundamental cowardice.”

The article is available by subscription only, but if you Google the title in the next day or two, you’ll probably find the full article.

*Sidebar I: On June 28, I posted about Gonzales’ involvement with clemency petitions when he was counsel to Governor Bush, Alberto Gonzales's push for the death penalty - Why are we so surprised?.

*Sidebar II: Who said "Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds?" Check it out.

(photo of a hobgoblin – Refreshuk)

1 comment:

Weedgardener said...

Usually attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" is the correct phrase.