He’s only thinking of the fallen officers, you see.
“It really does show how sick our society has become that people are more concerned about a campaign three years from now than those grieving families in Washington,” Huckabee said during an interview on Joe Scarborough’s radio show. “It is disgusting, but people use anything as a political weapon.”…
“If he were a white kid from an upper middle class family he would have gotten a lawyer and some counseling,” Huckabee said. “But because he was a young black kid he got 108 years.”…
“It’s a lot easier to be a pundit or a commentator or a blogger than to govern the state and have to make tough decisions,” he said. “People are talking about this from a political standpoint, but what they need to be asking is how did the system break down?”
Kudos to Huck, I guess, for stopping short of calling his critics racist too. In fairness, the clemency in Clemmons’s case wasn’t indefensible at the time. He was a kid, he’d already served 10 years, he had a judge on his side, and at the end of the day, the reduced sentence imposed by Huckabee was still a stiff 47 years. It was the parole board who sprung him, not Huck. Toss in the point about disparate justice based on class and race and the fact that the prosecutor who’s objecting so much now mysteriously had nothing to say at the time and there’s at least an argument to be made that a reduced sentence was in order. It’s his dumb luck that out of the hundreds and hundreds of pardons and commutations he granted that gave him his rep for being soft on crime, the cop-killer in the bunch turns out to be someone who made a semi-compelling appeal. But it is what it is. Like Geraghty says:
It takes a particular bravado for a man in Huckabee’s circumstances to contend that his critics are the ones who should hang their heads in shame; some people might find letting violent criminals go free early out of a misguided sense that they’ve changed their ways a clearer reflection of a sick society.
Indeed. Just like it takes a particular bravado to blame “the system” now when the head of that system felt obliged to peremptorily overrule its lawful judgments again and again and again.
For your viewing pleasure, here’s Anderson Cooper grilling the judge who recommended clemency for Clemmons to Huckabee. Things get interesting about halfway in. Exit question: Now that we know Huck’s not running in 2012 — and he surely isn’t, or else he wouldn’t be wagging his finger at people about this — does Pawlenty’s critique seem a tad gratuitous?
Update: Hot off the presses at Human Events, Huckabee lays out the facts of Clemmons’s clemency, accepts responsibility for his part in it, then unloads on the prosecutor:
During the legally required 30 day public comment period before action on the case was complete, there were no objections registered by my office by any authorities, despite claims of the local prosecutor that he “was afraid something like this would happen.” Interestingly, if he was so afraid, then he has failed to explain why in 2004 when Clemmons was back in prison for a parole violation, his office failed to pursue charges and in fact dropped them, allowing Clemmons to go free, move to Washington, and for reasons beyond me, continue to avoid extradition back to Arkansas or be kept by Washington authorities as he displayed signs of psychotic behavior. I am responsible for the commutation in 2000. I would not have commuted his sentence in 2004 after the re-arrest or in any of the years following. I can explain my decision in 2000. I cannot explain the decision of the very vocal prosecutor in Little Rock who seems to avoid answering the questions as to why he didn’t keep Clemmons in prison in 2004 or get him brought back to Arkansas for his repeated parole violations.
No religious considerations to it either, he claims:
Religion had nothing to do with the commutation. It’s been erroneously expressed that my own personal faith or the claims of faith of the inmate factored into my decision. That is simply not true and nothing in the record even suggests it. The reasons were straightforward — a unanimous recommendation from the board, support from a trial judge and no objections from officials in a case that involved a 16 year old sentenced to a term that was exponentially longer than similar cases and certainly longer than had he been white, upper middle class, and represented by effective counsel who would have clearly objected to the sentencing. (His race, economic status, or education level are not excuses for his behavior because many people of color who are uneducated and living in abject poverty are civil, trustworthy, and honest to a fault and many well-educated, wealthy, white people are dirtbags — think Bernie Madoff).
Update: Alex Castellanos, a former Romney man and now a senior media guy at the RNC, says it’s all over for Huck.