Mike Huckabee has some explaining to do. He commuted Maurice Clemmons 95-year prison sentence after the man petitioned for reconsideration of his case. Clemmons’ letter was, in retrospect masterfully manipulative and catered to Huckabee’s homespun belief in Christian values and the notion of repentance and redemption from sin. In other words, Clemmons played Huckabee for a fool, using every cliché in the book:
I come from a very good Christian family and I was raised much better than my actions speak. (I’m still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought upon my family name.)
He also asks for mercy:
Since that [parole] hearing the angel of death has visited and taken away my dear sweet mother and this more than anything has effected change for the good in my heart. Because now I have to live with all that I put her through I wasn’t able to be with her and make her proud of me before she passed.
I’ve never done anything good for God but I’ve prayed for him to grant me in his compassion the grace for a start…
I think my institutional adjustment has been exemplary…and the ends of justice have been achieved because I am no longer the same misguided youth I was 11 years ago. I know I can, if given the opportunity lead a productive life in society.
…God bless You for Your time and consideration. It is so prayed.
I have no problem that Mike Huckabee commuted sentences of three times as many prisoners as the three previous governors. I have a problem with the fact that he introduced purely religious considerations into the commutation process substituting Christian dogma for good, hard-heated penal-oriented evaluation. The governor wanted to believe that these prisoners could change through faith in Jesus or whatever. But he did so in cases like this with almost no other evidence to back up such faith. That was his mistake.
And the reason this is relevant to his presidential aspirations is that there is no reason to assume he won’t use the same considerations in formulating national policy. Just look at his rabid support for the most extreme of settler groups, which follows his Christian Zionist principles that the Jews shouldn’t give up a single inch of divinely bestowed land to the Palestinians. I don’t want a preacher or evangelist in the White House. I want a president.
In the Comment is Free piece published today I forgot to mention the clear connections to Willie Horton. Let this be a political cross that Mike Huckabee has to bear going into the 2012 primary race.
Huckabee is clearly attempting to do damage control with his statement released today which blamed errors of the “Washington State and Arkansas criminal justice systems.” What he omits of course is that the governor is also a partner in that system. In his case, he provided the signature on the commutation. That’s his error. He wants you to forget that in a blizzard of finger-pointing.
Don’t good Christians believe in accepting responsibility for their actions and their mistakes? When will you do that, Mike? There are four police officers dead and nine children without fathers or mother. Don’t they deserve better from you? Or is a pro forma statement preserving your political ass the best you can do.
On a related subject, Seattle police have accused family and friends of Clemmons of aiding him in his escape and possibly misleading police about his whereabouts. Several individuals have been taken into custody and may be charged with violations. This is a massive manhunt costing the taxpayers millions of dollars and wasting resources and diverting police from their normal job of protecting the city. And Clemmons’ accomplices are acting like fools. Does this sound like the good Christian family the convict boasted about in his petition to Gov. Huckabee?
But lest anyone think there’s no more blame to go around, get a load of this comedy of errors between Arkansas and Washington State prosecutors which reminds me of the Keystone Cops.