During his two terms as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee plowed a long and abysmal row of pardons and commutations—more than his three predecessors combined—and, yet again, one has come back to haunt, not only him, but us. In Bill Clinton’s time as governor in that state he used his pardon privilege only 17 times; Huckabee pardoned commuted that many murderers alone. In his 10-year tenure the governor commuted or pardoned an astonishing 1033 felons.
Compassionate conservatism strikes again on the Salvation Highway, and we witness yet another head-on collision between reconciliation and pardon. When will we learn that forgiveness and pardon are not one and the same thing?
In the wake of this week’s horrifying police slayings in Washington State, the New York Times headlines might as well read “Stupid Christian Commuted Cop Killer,” and one could hardly blame them. Would that bad headlines were the only ramifications of Huckabee’s misguided leniency. His 1997 pardon of rapist Wayne DuMond led to at least one more rape-murder, and probably two, before the felon was returned to prison. In his later years as governor Arkansas prosecutors actually sued to prevent the former Southern Baptist preacher from pardoning another first-degree murderer.
It’s time to forgive Bill Clinton for pardoning Marc Rich, and Mike Dukakis for letting Willie Horton out to brutally rape a young woman. How can conservatives possibly excoriate them when we have a Mike Huckabee on the loose? Michelle Malkin is right in suggesting that Maurice Clemmons should be the former presidential candidate’s Horton. Huckabee’s lamebrain Michael Moore-style Christianity is silly—that’s right, silly—in any conservative.
The governor’s skewed thinking on forgiveness is not isolated in the Church; contrarily it is becoming epidemic. During the 1998 Karla Faye Tucker debate, so-called Christian conservatives came out of the woodwork, protesting, not only Tucker’s, but all execution as wrong. For the record, I supported Tucker’s commutation to life without parole, but never in my wildest attack of liberal thinking did I want her released.
When a jury set O.J. Simpson free, society had no recourse but to accept that verdict. Yet when another jury slapped a 108-year sentence on Maurice Clemmons, Huckabee commuted the sentence, allowing him a parole date. Clemmons had a bad record while in prison and was generally known as an incorrigible, which is why he received the century-long sentence to begin with.
Look, I understand that local and national politics are in play here. Huck’s enemies, both the old ones from Arkansas, and others seeking to put a deathblow to his presidential aspirations, are ganging up. Let me say that I think Mike is a fine, principled man. In comparison to Bill Clinton’s shameless pardons of shady friends while in the White House, Huckabee’s record seems well intentioned. I can’t find anything that demonstrates his actions were politically motivated or in any way unethical. However, they indicate bizarre bleeding-heart lefto thinking in a man who otherwise claims conservative values. At the very least, his judgment was flawed in commuting so many sentences; sooner or later one or more was bound to come back to his doorstep.
Mike Huckabee I am sure by now regrets his mistake and will live with it forever, a heavy cross to bear, but while to forgive may be divine, pardon is best left to God.