Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Don't Beg Your Pardon

Need a laugh? Read this.

Apparently, Tom Campbell thinks it would be a great idea to pardon Tom DeLay. Can't say I agree. Surprised?

We went through this type of thing a few years ago with Scooter Libby. Someone does something wrong, gets busted, and then someone else says "Oh, he's a good guy. He did it all for the right reasons. Just pardon him." You won't hear that kind of talk about folks in the hood who swiped food for their families to eat. But you hear it quite a bit when people in power abuse that power and are forced to pay for it, even a little. They become the wronged party.

Campbell's arguments are disjointed, unoriginal and woefully unconvincing. First he says he isn't a big Tom DeLay fan. This establishes his "impartiality". Then he compares DeLay with Charlie Rangel, noting that Rangel got off relatively easy, in his opinion. Then he says that three years in the slammer is unfair. (Compared to what? One year?) Then he says DeLay's motives were pure and that he didn't stand to gain personally. (This shouldn't matter. But, for the record, he did benefit quite a bit, personally and politically. Campbell is engaging in sophistry. There were indeed "no personal slush funds" [that we know of] but there were plenty of other goodies.) Then we get a lecture on civility. (Huh?) And then a caution against descending into "politics as blood sport" (as if DeLay wasn't engaging in that himself), followed by the tried-and-true "hasn't he suffered enough?" line. Then, inexplicably, the Tucson shooting gets hauled in.

After all of the usual nonsense, Campbell boils it down to "Think about the children!" Oy. This is not a person who feels he's laid out an airtight case.

This following bit is great.

In many countries, it is not enough to defeat opponents. Politics is a blood sport in which you must destroy them if you can. Do we wish to descend to that level? I don't think so.

That is why DeLay should be allowed to retire to private life with what he has left. He has been punished enough. He lost his position as majority leader and his congressional seat. He lost his place on the national stage. Prison will satisfy the vindictive desires of some but will trigger in others a desire for revenge.

Oh, okay. So maybe we should pardon every fucking criminal in the country. Because undoubtedly revenge is the only possible outcome. Prison is always vindictive. It's never deserved.

See, it isn't about Tom DeLay and the illegal shit he did. It's about satisfying someone else's bloodlust. And I think that Campbell's comment about DeLay's lost place on the national stage means that he desperately wants us to forget this gem.

Apart from all of this nonsense is the idea of what a pardon really is. It isn't, and was never meant to be, a method to ensure that guilty people never did their time. It was supposed to be a way for guilty, contrite people who did their time to be forgiven due to the fact that they had learned from their mistakes and had begun to make themselves into decent members of society.

The most horrible precedent was set by Chevy Chase in 1974. In that one, there wasn't even a trial, let alone a verdict or a sentence. They skipped right to the pardon. So now any time anyone in a leadership position gets convicted, we're supposed to just forget about it because one of their buddies vouches for them. Because really, they shouldn't have to serve as much time as the guy who gets busted for swiping a few videotapes. Now that was a bad guy. Lock him up.

Most importantly, acceptance of a pardon is supposed to be an admission of guilt. You will never get that from Tom DeLay. In fact he's appealing the court's decision. How can you pardon someone who's appealing the decision?

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