Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Association

I'll make this really quick.

The left needs to be very careful about making too much of the fact that Mike Huckabee once commuted the prison sentence of the man who allegedly killed four cops in a Washington diner yesterday morning. It's not that there isn't a story there -- particularly if it's true that Huckabee, during his time as governor of Arkansas, may have been overly lenient with dozens of violent criminals who eventually wound up back in prison -- but it's photo composites like the one above, from the Huffington Post, that deserve to cause concern. Some could easily argue that juxtaposing images of suspect Maurice Clemmons, sporting a full-on "dangerous black man" scowl, diminutive Mike Huckabee and the four white cops that Clemmons supposedly gunned down in cold blood, makes the left as guilty of race-baiting as the cynical Republican operatives who put together the infamous Willie Horton ad against Mike Dukakis.

I'm obviously not suggesting that the reality of the situation be ignored or adjusted: Clemmons is black and apparently very, very dangerous; his alleged victims are white, as is Huckabee. Facts are facts, and they're unavoidable -- hope for convenient political correctness be damned. I'm also not saying that the left shouldn't at least make sure questions about Huckabee's record when it comes to violent criminals are asked, because we are actually talking about a man who comes from the party that consistently promotes itself as being the one that's "tough on crime" (as opposed to those pussy liberals across the aisle). But in exposing what could be the right's hypocrisy, the usual suspects on the left need to make sure not to engage in their own equally condemnable brand of hypocrisy.

There's a right way and a wrong way to go about this, no pun or irony intended. I'll be curious to see which way the left chooses.


Eric said...

Thank you, and I agree. In fact, I'm not sure any of us on the left should go there at all--we were justifiably upset when the right not only played the race card with Dukakis, but also blasted him for doing what Governors do: Governors consider pardon/commutation recommendations, and consider a long list of factors including the inmate's rehabilitation, prison crowding, etc., and they make choices. Some of those choices backfire, and someone commits a serious crime. What do you want for an alternative, a Governor like George Bush, who apparently laughed at at least one clemmency request from Death Row and was notorious for refusing to issue pardons as governor of Texas?

I'm not real excited to defend Mike Huckabee, whose politics and religion I generally find disagreeable. But this one's a non-starter; he did his job as governor, took a chance, and things went bad. Not to sound flippant, but them's the breaks, sometimes.

Sure, there's arguably a hypocrisy issue here given the right's usual law'n'order posturing, but I think we're better taking the high road on this one. Huckabee did what I think most of us liberals want governors to do, let's not hit him for it just because his side would if it had happened to one of ours.

Anyway, thanks for the comments. Saved me a blog post. :)

Web Dunce said...

But what is the right way? From all accounts I've read about Huckabee, he lets his religious belief in redemption and other bullshit cloud his rational thinking. I say that it's great if a prisoner "finds god" and gets redeemed. As far as I'm concerned, his real prison sentence begins that day. I admit that since my brother's senseless brutal murder, I have scant compassion for any violent scumbag - regardless of their age or mental capacity. There was a very good reason why Clemmons got 95 years in the first place. If he is the killer in the case of these cops in Washington, he has now destroyed four more families. I doubt Huckabee will be losing sleep over it, but I'm sure he'll be doing some praying. However, you are right that this shouldn't be made into some sort of political gotcha. It wouldn't be fair on the families of the victims. Their nightmare is just beginning.

60ft6in said...


Thanks for the heads up! I just finished reading the four Seattle police officers killed story in The Wall Street Journal. No mention was made in that article that Maurice Clemmons was African-American. I was thinking Mike Huckabee pardoned the wrong guy without the Willie Horton and George Bush the Elder connotations. Lee Attwater stay dead!

I still think 1960's-1970's Detroit Tigers when I think of Willie Horton. Every time the Tigers came to Anaheim in the 1960's Angel radio announcer Buddy Blattner on KMPC AM 710 would comment about Willie Horton being so strong he broke his bat on a checked swing.

There is a statistical probability that a pardoned felon will go bad again. Potential pardonees must be cautioned that if they are freed and they commit a subsequent serious crime they could adversely affect other prisoners' chances of getting a pardon. It should be a slow process with checks and balances to release prisoners early. George Bush the Younger's constipated complete intestinal blockage of releasing or pardoning prisoners is too extreme. Priority for early releases/pardons should go to prisoners guilty of non-violent crimes. I am a capitalist, but I do not own any prison stock!

Master Mahan said...

My immediate reaction on seeing the suspected shooter was a scary black man was the same as when I first heard the name of the alleged Fort Hood shooter: "shit, that's not good." This is no political gift. This is a tragedy, and only a tragedy, and the damage this will do to race relations in this is country only makes four untimely deaths even worse. Using this as political hay would just pile on that damage.

Fortunately (sort of), I doubt very much the left will use this to attack Mike Huckabee. If Huckabee runs for president, he's going to need to win the primary first, so his immediate opponents are also Republicans. That every GOP candidate would avoid using Maurice Clemmons to try and win over their lily-white electorate is about as likely as rainbow trout flying out of my ass. Even if Huckabee wins the primary, the damage will have been done.

Master Mahan said...

This actually isn't the first time one of Gov. Huckabee's paroles came back to bite him on the ass. You might remember the stir in 2007 when he released convicted rapist Wayne Dumond - who then proceeded to rape and kill two women. In this case, though, the initial attack actually came from a private citizen's youtube video.

Those crimes weren't national news even before the Huckabee connection was found, though. Furthermore, Dumond was white. He looks damn creepy in his wikipedia picture, but still, white.

And looking at Google News right now, I revise my previous statement about attacks coming from the right. It looks like the media is already having a field day with this story.

See yoU Next Tuesday said...

This shooting, in Lakewood, not Seattle, happened not very far from where I live.

Huckabee made a religious based pardon that yes, allowed this guy to be back on the streets. But the justice system failed all the way to a couple of days ago.

Right now I just want this monster found.

Ref said...

While I agree that the photo array is dicey, I've been trashing Huck on this all day and this was my first knowledge that Clemmons is black.

Le Penseur said...

I wonder how many nonviolent offenders were passed over for early release so that Mr. Clemmons could have another opportunity to wreak havoc on society.

kanye said...

I swear as God is my witness, I thought he was Bruce's sax player. I mean, it's not like you can tell them apart...right?

~Mike Huckabee~

ntx said...

No need for the left to hammer Huckabee. The right has it covered.

Thanks guys.