Day Twenty Three: Turkey Pardoning
Sarah Palin's latest embarrassing episode - obliviously answering questions during a turkey pardoning while turkeys are violently meeting their maker - reminds me that we're close to the Pardoning Sweepstakes. At the end of every presidency, the exiting incumbent releases a slew of well-connected rakes from their well-earned sentences. This, the ability of the President of the United States to pardon convicted criminals with impunity, is, perhaps, one the most overlooked Presidential powers. Before he left office, Bill Clinton went a little apeshit, pardoning 140 people including his ne'er do well half-brother.
The following noteworthy felons have received Executive clemency for their misdeeds:
- Richard Nixon - This crook was pardoned by Gerald Ford, apparently to help a nation heal. At least that's the official reason that was given. My belief is that this pardon was granted so that men in power would not bring their entire self-perpetuating system of political inequality into question. But I guess I'm just cynical like that.
- Caspar Weinberger - Pardoned by Bush the First. I was with my uncle when this happened. When the news broke, I remember him almost choking on his Baby Ruth and asking no one in particular, "Ain't that a bitch?"
- Elliot Abrams -Another Bushman. He and Weinberger were the most visible members of the Iran-Contra scandal.
- Marc Rich - A Bill Clinton Special. Rich (by no means a misnomer) was a brazen tax evader and oil runner. He was no fool, however, and he also contributed mightily to the Clintons and the Democratic party.
- Mark Felt and Edward Miller - Pardoned by Nixon. Deep throats, deep pockets and strong ties to right wing power.
- George Steinbrenner - Pardoned by Reagan. Loved by Nixon. The owner of my beloved Yankees was indicted on 14 criminal counts in 1974. I'm sure his countless donations to the Nixon campaign had little to do with his clemency.
- Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory - Pardoned by Clinton. These pardons were literally bought and paid for in the form of $107,000 worth of unpaid loans to the one and only Hillary Rodham Clinton. But I'm sure Magic Johnson knew nothing of that when he campaigned for her.
- Jimmy Hoffa - Pardoned by Nixon. If he had any idea what was in store for him, he would probably have preferred to stay in the pen.