Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama, Lincoln, and Pardons

Obama gets paired with Lincoln a lot, and often seems to invite it; Professor Ruckman at "Pardon Power" has an amusing post in which he notes that there is indeed one thing Obama can actually do to pair himself with Lincoln in a positive way:

First, let it be said that we certainly hope that President Obama does not take Mr. Lincoln's cue and set up secretive military tribunals to try American citizens. We hope that Obama does not suspend any prisoner's right to be informed as to why they are being detained within a reasonable amount of time, as did Mr. Lincoln - squarely in the face of two direct rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. We assume officials in the Obama administration will not shock the world's notions of "war crimes" the way that Lincoln's generals did. And we hope that Mr. Obama does not instruct that his critics in the press be harassed, threatened and prosecuted, the way Mr. Lincoln did, simply because they exercise their First Amendment right to express dissenting points of view. As Mr. Obama said today, we hope that his administration does not sacrifice the Nation's ideals at the expense of the Nation's security.

On the other hand, there is one side of Lincoln that we would love to see in President Obama. Despite the fact that he was riding thin electoral support and had a Civil War on his hands, Abraham Lincoln took the time and, to some extent, the political risk, to grant pardons to almost 400 individuals in just over four years - more than both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush combined granted in a full twleve years. Had he not been assassinated, Lincoln would have certainly set a record for individual pardons up to that point in history.

Well worth reading.

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