President Bush late Monday “granted what could be a first round of pardons” during his last days in office, said Kevin Bogardus in The Hill. And while these 14 pardons and two commutations involved “small-time criminals”—drug dealers, embezzlers, a Bald Eagle killer—“speculation has swirled” around several “big Washington names” that could be in the next batches, including several convicted GOP congressmen.
It’s a good bet that big name pardon-seekers like former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) and ex-Lousisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) “will be disappointed,” said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. But there’s hope for jailed Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who’ve become “a cause celèbre among border-security activists.”
The real elephant in the room, said Jay McDonough in Progressive Politics Examiner, is the persistent rumor that Bush will issue “broad blanket pardons” to underlings who “engaged in inarguably illegal activities,” notably torture and wiretapping. President George H.W. Bush issued similar pardons in his last days, and some Democrats are trying to head off another such “obstruction of justice.”
Actually, we’re unlikely to see a slew of last-minute pardons or a “blanket amnesty,” said Margaret Colgate Love in the Houston Chronicle. The controversial “torrent of irregular grants issued by Bill Clinton on his last day in office” was atypical. If anything, Bush has been overly stingy with his pardons—he’s granted 171, rejecting almost 8,000 requests. More clemency would be good.