A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The End of the Political Career of Mike Huckabee

The multiple murders of four police officers in Seattle last week touched off a manhunt for Maurice Clemmons. The killer was never captured; he was shot and killed while trying to escape an officer during a routine traffic stop. The story made headlines nationwide, made more interesting by the fact that the killer had been paroled from a lengthy sentence for armed robbery in Arkansas.

The back story to his parole proved a bit embarrassing to former Arkansas governor and GOP Presidential contender Mike Huckabee. As governor at the time of Clemmons' incarceration, Huckabee approved the parole for the young man who had sent a letter to him. The letter, excerpted in several newspaper stories, had all the usual clichés (“school of hard knocks”) one hears in the old Warner Brothers gangster films. Clemmons wrote that he was a scared young man who had learned his lesson. A compassionate Huckabee exercised the feeling that, no matter what, everyone deserves a second chance and commuted Clemmons' 108 year sentence.

Huckabee explained his rational for the release when his role in the parole was revealed. First, he reasoned that Clemmons' sentence was excessive. The former governor cited that a white man who had committed the same crimes would never receive any sentence like Clemmons was serving. Second, he took the prisoner on his word that he was ready to become a productive member of society. This is the Christian thing to do: forgive, forget, and pray that everything works out well for the prisoner and society. There was simply no way Huckabee or anyone else could predict that Clemmons would commit such atrocities in Seattle.

So, bearing all this logic and common sense in mind, we should give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt, right? Hell no!

Unfortunately, the GOP raised the bar on governors commuting sentences when Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis ran for President against George H.W. Bush in 1988. During that campaign, Bush had a political genius by the name of Lee Atwater running his election bid. Atwater has been described by his contemporaries as ruthless, and this description is borne out by his handling of the "Willie Horton" issue.

On the campaign trail, Governor Dukakis repeatedly spoke about the furlough program available to convicts in his state. He thought highly of this program as he touted it as a way to rehabilitate criminals. Unfortunately for Dukakis, one convict by the name of William Horton — the GOP named him Willie later in the anti-Dukakis television ads — walked away from the furlough program. Within a few weeks, he was arrested on charges of robbery, assault, and rape in Maryland.

Atwater and the Bush camp — sensing a backlash against Dukakis because of Horton’s crime spree — seized on the incident. They created a massive ad campaign that depicted Dukakis as being weak on law and order. The Horton incident became one of the major turning points of the election that put Bush into the White House. He might have been elected to a second term had not Atwater succumbed to brain cancer in 1991.

So today the Democrats have a chance of returning the favor on Mike Huckabee should he decide to run for president in 2012. It’s sad to think that a horrendous crime by one individual will mean the ruin of another person who gave him a second chance. However, this is the way the harsh, bitchy, back-and-forth world of politics works. Huckabee might as well kiss his dreams of living in the White House goodbye!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that many times people given a second chance really do succeed, but no one ever writes about them.)


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