Presodent Obama who I spoke to once at a fund raiser during the 2008 campaign and was on a conference call with him from New Hampshire, has apparently overlooked the surreal irony of pardoning two turkeys during the Thanksgiving Day holiday but refusing to spare the lives of death-row inmates. The president pardoned two turkeys in the nation’s only display of mercy for meat-eating victims. I am not a vegetarian but consume very little “red meat.”
While the president was sparing the lives of turkeys in a tradition dating back to the Bush I, he missed the opportunity to liberate 1000s of Americans on death row. The Constitution allows him to pardon or commute the sentences of those on death row. What the great now incarcerated Governor George Ryan effectuated in 2003, Mr Obama should do in 2011. Governor Ryan commuted the sentences of all 167 Illinois death-row inmates and declared the death penalty “arbitrary and capricious, and therefore immoral.” President Obama should do the same. If I were him, I would recognise that I cannot turn the economy around. My legacy will not be one of stimulus or job creation and reelection cannot be my sole preoccupation for almost two years. I have to abandon the Clinton-era revulsion of moderate liberalism and recapture my true values and idealism. This would entail obstructing the death penalty process and stymying additional state executions during his term of office.
Illinois ended the death penelty in 2011. Another legacy of the great Gov. Ryan. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a ban on executions during his gubernatiorial tenure in Oregon. Public opinion has become increasingly receptive to banning capital punishment not because it fails as a deterrent but innocent people are slaughtered by this violent nation: the Pakistan of the west.
It should be noted that Barack Hussein Obama also recently pardoned and commuted the sentences of six people. While some involved such piddling crimes such as marijuana use and distribution, none involved capital crimes resulting in a death-penalty conviction! The president who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago should revisit the Constitution and adopt a more expansive approach to the pardoning power:
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.
“The President … shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons
for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”
Indeed if turkeys can be pardoned; if marijuana offenders can be pardoned then death-row inmates across the country should be either pardoned and/or commuted and removed from the barbaric act of state murder. While a president cannot reverse the Supreme Court’s exclusion of the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment, she could if she had the moral and political integrity, prevent any executions during her term of office. I ask Mr Obama to exercise such leadership and forever secure his legacy as the anti-death penalty president. He won’t of course. This is America but the dream and vision of human rights must remain an objective.