December 3, 2009
Shameless Huck-steringBy Jane Jamison
Mike Huckabee should never hold an executive public office again. His self-absorbed behavior in the past forty-eight hours shows he believes his personal political aspirations are more important than a respectful mourning period for four police officers. The cops are dead in major part due to a decision Huckabee made nine years ago.
The four young police officers, all of them parents, were killed execution-style in the Seattle suburbs Sunday morning as they enjoyed a quiet coffee break. The suspect, Maurice Clemmons, was a whacked-out, multi-convicted loser who was out on bail for raping eleven- and twelve-year-old girls.
Within a few hours, the media figured out that despite his lengthy criminal record, Clemmons was freed to commit murder in Washington State because former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee had commuted his jail sentence nine years ago. The commutation set up a speedy parole for Clemmons, who then went on to other crimes, jail sentences, and an apparent spiral into mental illness.
Huckabee, who hosts a Fox News talk show, served two terms as Arkansas governor, was a failed 2008 presidential candidate, is been a hopeful for 2012. Recent polls showed him as one of the Republican front-runners.
Clemmons was still on the loose, the investigation of the slayings having just begun Sunday afternoon, but Huckabee revved his publicity machine to high-speed hyper-whine. He posted a brief mention on his website late Sunday that blithely deflected blame for Clemmons' early release to unnamed others:
That whitewash ran right down the walls of public opinion, so on Monday Huckabee called in his favors with his media friends and began an unseemly campaign to save face and deny his earlier denial.
Newsmax.com obliged with a headline Monday night: "Mike Huckabee: I Take Full Responsibility for Granting Alleged Cop-Killer Clemency." It sounded like Huckabee was "manning up," but actually he was carefully parsing his words.
Huckabee explained in his Newsmax.com article that he reduced Clemmons' prison sentence because Clemmons was only sixteen years old when convicted of burglary and robbery, yet he had been given a 108-year prison term. Huckabee says he felt it was too much prison time.
"For the crimes he (Clemmons) committed and the age at which he committed the crimes, it was dramatically outside the norm for sentencing."
Clemmons had a jury trial and a judge who had given him the 108 years. Admittedly, this is a very long term. Do you think the people who sat day in and day out observing Maurice Clemmons during his trial perhaps had good reason to do what they did?
Huckabee kept up the blame game through a series of powder-puff interviews with his Fox News coworkers Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. Huck was allowed to condescend repeatedly to his detractors, because he was sure that we don't understand the difference between pardons, clemency, and commutation. There was lots of complaining about "those people" or "certain reporters." In Huck-speak, it isn't his fault that other judges or other prosecutors or other jails either didn't convict Clemmons for his later crimes or jail him long enough for them.
O'Reilly and Hannity, whom I watch nearly every day, studiously avoided making their coworker answer for anything from out of his horrible ten-year history of playing patty-cake with notorious Arkansas criminals.
Kevin Hall of The Des Moines Conservative Examiner writes:
Hall recites an astounding list of murderers, rapists, and thugs who were released or given much shorter sentences by Governor Huckabee's hand. Hall found the reasons for the leniency fell into four categories: Huckabee felt " the justice system treated [the prisoners] more harshly than most, they knew a person who had known the governor, they worked at the Governor's Mansion, or a minister interceded for them."
Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote critically during Huckabee's tenure as governor:
Arkansas Online found the O'Reilly interview with Huckabee lacking good follow-up questions:
Mike Huckabee will waste a lot of money and other people's votes if he thinks he is somehow still viable in presidential politics. He is done. He is a nice man, and kind of cute playing his guitar on his television show. But he should not ever hold a public office where he might make executive-branch decisions because he has shown he is weirdly or naïvely soft on criminals. Good people have been hurt by Huckabee's actions. He has shown us this week that just giving the impression of being sorry is difficult. He was doing full-out damage control for himself when he should have just shut up until the funerals were over. I perceive a creepy, intimidating undercurrent that refusing Mike Huckabee "forgiveness" is somehow not "Christian."
There is no forgiveness for what you did, Mr. Huckabee. You had ten years to stop.
It is true that many things went wrong for many years so that a hopelessly hardened criminal like Maurice Clemmons was free to gun down good cops in a coffee shop. However, none of those other events would have happened if Mike Huckabee had not decided that he was wiser than a jury of twelve citizens and a sentencing judge.
Maurice Clemmons would still be drilling holes in Arkansas license plates. Four cops in Lakewood, Washington would be celebrating Christmas with their kids this month.
Jane Jamison is publisher of the conservative news/commentary blog, UNCOVERAGE.net.