The Bush administration is coming to an end, and at the end of the road for any administration is….the pardons. This particular presidential tradition is one that I find particularly abhorrent, and overused. It’s like a signing statement, only for people. The law applies, except if I decide it doesn’t.
The pardons at the end of the Clinton administration had me fuming for weeks. I’m sure I’ll feel the same or worse after the Bush pardons. But that’s just me.
The Anchorage Daily News today speculated about the pardon that’s on all Alaskans’ minds as January 20th draws near – Senator Ted Stevens. There are rumored to be three sets of pardons, one happening this week.
During his farewell speech on the Senate floor last week, Stevens made it clear he intends to continue his appeal, saying he can “still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me.” And just last week his lawyers continued their attack on the conduct of prosecutors in the case, by asking for a hearing, now scheduled for Monday, to examine a claim by one of the witnesses against Stevens that he was lying on the stand about an immunity deal.
Stevens also told a pack of news media “no, no, no” when asked the day he lost the election whether he would seek a pardon, but his spokesman, Aaron Saunders, said he wasn’t saying “no” to the idea. The senator was simply declining to answer the question, Saunders said.
Hmmm…. Sounds like a little post-“no no no” clean up work from the spokesman. Alaskan spokespeople are getting really good at starting sentences with, “What s/he meant to say was….”
Later that day, when asked by the Daily News to clarify his remarks, Stevens didn’t rule out seeking a pardon: “That’s something that’s beyond me,” he said, waving his hands as though to push the question aside. “That’s beyond me.”
He also said after the conviction that he wouldn’t be “seeking” a pardon, but we’ll note that he didn’t say that he wouldn’t accept a pardon. It’s all a big game of words.
The entire article is worth a read, and includes commentary from Wev Shea, the U.S. Attorney for Alaska from 1990-1993. After you read it, I invite you to take the pardon polls below: