I must admit that this entire controversy (conservative feeding frenzy?) surrounding Governor Mike Huckabee’s commutation of Maurice Clemmons’ sentence back in 2000 makes me a bit queasy. Â Am I the only one that thinks the vitriol and condemnation of Huckabee over this is way over-the-top? Â Let’s take a step back from the beat-down for just a moment and examine the situation objectively, shall we? Â Most everyone knows the facts surrounding the killings by now. Â If you don’t, see here and here. Â All reasonable people can agree that this is a horrific crime which could have been prevented if the criminal justice system had worked properly. Â My prayers and deepest sympathy are with the families of these slain officers. Â Nevertheless, to single out Huckabee as the party most responsible in this matter is patently absurd.
Understand that I’m not necessarily stating that Huckabee is being completely forthcoming in his statements explaining his thought process surrounding the decision he made to commute this man’s sentence to 47 years from 108 back in 2000 when he was still in the Governor’s office (although I am giving him the benefit of the doubt until we get some more reliable evidence to the contrary). Â What I am saying is that the evidence that he is lying about this comes from sources which are questionable at best, and in the case of prosecutor Larry Jegley, from a Democrat who has run against Huckabee in the past and certainly appears to have a long-standing grudge against him. Â Michele Malkin has led the charge to pillory Huckabee, and a host of conservative bloggers have piled on, falling over themselves to drive a wooden stake through Huck’sÂ heart in a rather disgusting display of viciousness if you ask me.
I use that metaphor advisedly, as one has to wonder what – other than hatred/fear of a possible Huckabee candidacy in 2012 – would motivate such unmitigated lack of restraint? Â More than a few conservative bloggers have come perilously close to blaming Huckabee directly for the deaths of those four police officers in Washington. Â I suspect there are other factors at work here, including disdain for some of Huckabee’s religious convictions and social conservatism that some in our camp think harms the Republican brand. Â Thus the effort (eerily similar in some respects to the Left’s crusade against Sarah Palin) to eliminate him as a factor. Â Here’s what the former Governor had to say in his own defense yesterday afternoon on Sean Hannity’s radio show:
“All I had in front of me was his [Clemmons'] adjudication record, plus the recommendation of the trial judge, a five-to-nothing vote by the [parole] board, and no objections from the attorney general, secretary of state, from law enforcement officials or victims. Â And I read one blogger who said “vehement protests from the victims”. Â That simply is not in the record that the Governor’s Office possessed.”
Until I see some reliable evidence indicating that Huckabee is lying about this – and I haven’t – I’m not going to join in the rush to condemn him. Â Malkin cites stories from the Seattle Times, Arkansas Leader, and Arkansas Times, none of which take a conservative approach to journalism (admittedly, few newspapers do today), at least two of which endorsed Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama in successive elections, and all of which contain allegations which Huckabee denies. Â These allegations include the damning and frequently-repeated (by conservative bloggers over the past 2 days) claim that Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ sentence “over the objections of prosecutors.” Â Huckabee has denied this as well, insisting that there is no record of any such objections being set forth at the time. Â For the record, both Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have to date refused to comment on Huckabee’s role in the Clemmons affair, other than to offer their condolences to the families of the murdered police officers.
Again I repeat: Â I am not defending Huckabee per se, only urging restraint and condemning the current rush to judgment based upon questionable and incomplete information at this point. Â I can’t help but be reminded of both the Mark Foley (R-FL) scandal in 2006, and the 2007 scandal involving Republican Senator Larry Craig. In both cases Republicans and conservatives rushed to condemn these men and to demand their removal from office. Â For further evidence of cannibalistic tendencies among conservatives, one need look no further than what happened to Republican Governor Mark Sanford just this past June. In stark contrast to this, observe the obscene spectacle that is Democrat Congressman Barney Frank. Â What is this obsession conservatives seem to have with destroying their own regardless of the merits of the case against them?