With a backlog of applications piled up at the Justice Department, high-profile criminals and their well-connected lawyers increasingly are appealing directly to President Bush for special consideration on pardons and clemency, according to people involved in the process.
Among those seeking presidential action are former junk-bond salesman Michael Milken, who hired former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson, one of the nation’s most prominent GOP lawyers, to plead his case for a pardon on 1980s-era securities fraud charges. Two politicians convicted of public corruption, former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) and four-term Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards (D), are asking Bush to shorten their prison terms.
George H.W. Bush was an okay president and Bill Clinton was a good president, but neither could restrain themselves from legacy-tarnishing midnight pardons. George W. Bush has been a terrible president and appears to lack any of the intellectual, ethical, or temperamental qualities associated with good leadership. So presumably he’ll do something worse. I can hardly even imagine it. I also can’t help but wonder if the pardon power — which, as Sandy Levinson has argued seems to be an odd monarchist holdover into our republican system of government — shouldn’t be done away with or radically changed.