Media Allow Presidential Misconduct

The Clemency of Alexander the Great - PellegriniWe all like President Obama, because he is, after all, as good a president as we could get. But he isn’t as good a president as we deserve. And I say that knowing full well that as a society, we don’t deserve very much. By industrial nation norms, we are distinctly on the bad side of average. But you know something: better politicians would make us better. And you know what stops us from having better politicians? Bad journalism: the kind of journalism that defines what the Democrats and Republicans think as the Overton Window—regardless of how rightward both parties drift; the kind of journalism that delivers no penalty for the worst lies and demagoguery; the kind of journalism that sees its product as commodity instead of truth.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of good journalism. It just means that it is mostly done in the shadows. ProPublica published a great article today by Dafna Linzer, Obama Has Granted Clemency More Rarely Than Any Modern President. This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy! Liberals will defend the President, “He can’t do anything else: he’s black!” Or, “He used to smoke pot!” Or “He admitted to using cocaine!” My response: those facts just make him an even bigger asshole.

Cannabis is a Schedule 1 narcotic. If he had been arrested by federal agents, he would have spent years in jail. There would have been no Harvard Law School. There would have been no presidency of the Law Review. And there such as shit would have been no President of the United States of America! He must know this. You would think it would make him a little more understanding. A little more empathic. A little less of a total dick.

How big a dick is he? In the last roughly 4 years, President Obama has pardoned 22 people. He has declined 1,019 other cases. That’s 1 out 50. How does it compare to other presidents? Ronald Reason: 1-3; Bush Sr: 1-16; Clinton: 1-8; Bush Jr: 1-33. Note: the cocaine sniffers are by far the worst.

But hey, maybe those asking for pardons are just worse than they used to be: terrorists and such. Not so much. Dafna Linzer:

A former brothel manager who helped the FBI bust a national prostitution ring. A retired sheriff who inadvertently helped a money launderer buy land. A young woman who mailed ecstasy tablets for a drug-dealing boyfriend, then worked with investigators to bring him down.

All of them and hundreds more were denied pardons by President Obama, who has granted clemency at a lower rate than any modern president, a ProPublica review of pardons data shows.

I’m not suggesting that Romney would be better. But my feeling is that any president would be a hell of a lot better if the media were more interested in stories like this.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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