WITH GOODWILL TOWARDS SOME….When it comes to presidential pardons, Bush can be a bit of a scrooge.
President Bush has granted 11 pardons, bringing to 69 the number of clemency orders he has issued since taking office five years ago, the Justice Department said.
Three moonshiners and a bank robber are among those pardoned, as is a Denver lawyer with Republican political ties. The pardons were issued [Friday], in keeping with a tradition of granting clemency during the holidays.
With 69 pardons over five years, Bush is on pace to be the stingiest two-term president in American history when it comes to granting clemency. Among Bush’s more recent predecessors, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, and Kennedy had several hundred pardons each, while Eisenhower was among the most charitable, with 1,157 pardons over his two terms. H.W. Bush was less generous, but his 77 pardons during his one term — including, not incidentally, Christmas Eve pardons for Reagan-era officials who could have implicated him in the Iran-contra scandal — at least gives him higher a per-year average than his son.
Indeed, over the last 200 years, only three presidents have had fewer pardons than George W. Bush — Zachary Taylor, James Garfield, and William H Harrison. Taylor died after one year in office; Garfield was shot four months into his term and was bedridden until he died two months later; and Harrison died of pneumonia within a month of taking office. Among healthy presidents, Bush is in a league of his own.
Given Bush’s Texas record, this shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. As governor, Bush not only executed Texans at a record clip; he signed only 18 clemency grants, making him the stingiest Texas governor in recent memory. (This isn’t a partisan matter; the last Republican to hold the office before Bush, Bill Clements, used the power 822 times — or about 46 clemencies for every one of Bush’s.)
At this point, the cushiest job in Washington has to be the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department who reviews the files in the pardon office. “Compassionate” conservatism? Not so much.