Comments: No One Knows

Can a president pardon himself?

BIG NO!

Note to Jonathan, please read consttution. This is a silly post.

The usual MO is to pardon those that could testify against you. See Bush th First

Posted by S Brennan at November 9, 2008 06:02 PM

Will Obama pardon Bush and how soon?

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 9, 2008 06:26 PM

S Brennan

I haven't actually read the constitution all the way through but I have read excerpts. Could you please quote the part where it says a President cannot pardon himself.

Thanks

Posted by cemmcs at November 9, 2008 09:42 PM

Pardonnez-moi, je suis fou.

Posted by abb1 at November 10, 2008 05:47 AM

If Bush can't pardon himself, and some law enforcement agency tries to press charges against him, then obviously Obama would pardon him.

Posted by Marcus at November 10, 2008 07:11 AM

I suspect as a practical matter there are only two ways to rule a state (and, to some extent, large company/organization).

One is Stalin's: to kill them all and try to cling to power forever.

The other one is post-Stalin (and common in the western world): to make sure that no one who has ever been elevated to a certain level (nomenklatura) will ever be held accountable for anything at all. Give them all lavish pensions and sinecures and rest assured that the same will happen to you in the worst case scenario. That's the civilized way.

Once you violate the agreement implicit in the second model, you'll quickly end up following the first model.

Am I too cynical? Often I suspect I am too cynical, and then later I discover I wasn't nearly cynical enough.

Posted by abb1 at November 10, 2008 07:57 AM

Give them all lavish pensions and sinecures and rest assured that the same will happen to you in the worst case scenario. That's the civilized way.

This is about the only way to ensure a constant bloodless transition of power. If the guy at the top knows that he can retire and not be held accountable for the horrors he unleashed, he'll go quietly. If he thinks his retirement is going to lead to a jail cell (or worse) then he's going to do everything he can to ensure that he doesn't have to give up the reigns of power. That leads him to hold power until he dies, or until he pushes things far enough that a bloody coup/revolution can unseat him.

Every system has its pluses and minuses. Lack of bloody wars every time we change presidents in exchange for a level of injustice is one of the trade-offs the current Western democracy model makes.

Posted by NonyNony at November 10, 2008 08:35 AM

Fortunately, His Majesty's Loyal Opposition has vowed not to impeach him. With a little luck, they'll do Bush a favor and pass a resolution asking him to pardon himself, just to make sure he has political cover.

Posted by jaz at November 10, 2008 09:39 AM

Okay, I still haven't read it all the way through but I did manage to find this:

...and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

I did not find anything which stipulates that the President cannot pardon himself.

I have two questions:

1)Since the President's power to pardon applies to "Offenses against the United States" but clearly not to cases of "Cases of Impeachment" would Bush be able to protect himself from criminal prosecution via the pardon even if he were impeached as long as he is still President?

2)Does "Offenses against the United States" mean that the President's power to pardon only applies to violations of federal law?


Posted by cemmcs at November 10, 2008 09:54 AM

... as long as he is still President?

I meant issues the pardon while he is President. The pardon would then be permanent. I hope I made this clear.

Posted by cemmcs at November 10, 2008 10:49 AM

Every system has its pluses and minuses. Lack of bloody wars every time we change presidents in exchange for a level of injustice is one of the trade-offs the current Western democracy model makes.

Posted by NonyNony at November 10, 2008 08:35 AM

How wonderful for you folks, then, who live in the safe, comfortable, protected cocoon of your Empire and in the sphere of the Western "democracies", where the gallery of thugs and war-criminals from Western "democracies" are allowed to get away with mass-murder of brown people and war-crimes just so you get to sustain your precious "democratic" system.


Posted by hv at November 10, 2008 11:08 AM

This, of course, has nothing to do with any 'democracies'. I claim that any hierarchical system with power concentrated at the top operates in one of these two modes - it's either extremely predatory or extremely corrupt.

The cure is not to impeach, jail, and guillotine, but to redistribute the power as equally as possible.

Posted by abb1 at November 10, 2008 11:37 AM

hv--I don't know if nonynony was approving of the way things are, but I think he's accurately described the situation. I want Bush impeached and put in prison. I also think all previous Presidents in the past several decades of been guilty of either war crimes themselves or aiding and abetting war criminals and/or terrorists. I think people in the political elites know this at some level, so the only chance there could be of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld etc. going to prison is if we all pretend that what they did was so uniquely awful, so far out of the mainstream, that yes, they should be imprisoned, but not your normal run-of-the-mill President.

But even that sets a precedent that will make the political class very very nervous, so I'll be very surprised if anyone in power besides marginal people like Kucinich support such a thing.

Posted by Donald Johnson at November 10, 2008 12:31 PM

I signed and, as always, I called Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 cncerning the same matter.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 10, 2008 01:09 PM

An alternative is to do what law enforcement does to organized crime; target the lower-echelon people. I think we could do a bit better than to imprison Lynndie England. Is Rove covered by this unwritten immunity? Then there are Gingrich, Gonzalez, Rumsfeld, Powell, etc. The idea is to send a message; the threat of repercussions may limit the amount and type of abuses committed.

Posted by Monkay at November 10, 2008 01:13 PM

Monkay, you forgot Yoo and Addington. Go after the lawyers first. I find it not suprising that lawyers are looked down on so much in our society when the study of law is often used as no more than a way to artfully dodge actually following it. At the very least the lawyers should be held accountable by their professional comrades.


This, of course, has nothing to do with any 'democracies'. I claim that any hierarchical system with power concentrated at the top operates in one of these two modes - it's either extremely predatory or extremely corrupt.

I think the Bush administration is both of these things, and Obama is neither. (well I guess your point still stands because the system is.)

As for the guillotine; here's a pop quiz: How do you ensure proper respect for the law throughout a civil society? A: Uniform application of that law Full Stop.

Nothing I repeat nothing wrong with our system except for that. So lawyers (and Congress), rot in hell all of you. And for the record, what's the point of debating the legality
of something the President would do? When was the last time the CinC did anything but show utter contempt for the laws he is supposed to enforce?

Posted by tim at November 10, 2008 03:50 PM

No, the Bush administration hasn't been predatory in the sense I am talking about here: they are not eliminating their political opponents. But they would and they still might, if they felt threatened, in the existential sense. If Rumsfeld, or Bush, or Cheney gets arrested, then there will be a massive retaliation; worst case scenario - someone may get assassinated or something. Who knows, Nixon and his boys certainly did contemplate these kinds of actions. Pretty soon you'll have an all-out war, like between, say, NJ mafia and NY mafia. Nobody wants this, not good for business.

Posted by abb1 at November 10, 2008 04:50 PM

The Republicans have already started partisan prosecutions.(Gov.Seigelman)

Posted by par4 at November 10, 2008 05:18 PM

If they started, they'll pay the price. It's like with Clinton's impeachment - the Democrats retaliated and ruined Gingrich. And the next Republican strongman after him (Livingston? something like that). Don't you think Gingrich and his boys regret it now?

Posted by abb1 at November 10, 2008 05:49 PM

they are not eliminating their political opponents

Well they might not be killing people, or at least you can't accuse anyone of that without being labeled a whacko.

What about those federal prosecutors whose jobs got eliminated at least? I'm sure there are about a million examples of political predation and nepotism.

And what about all of the action on behalf of energy companies? I view the last 8 years as a predatory scheme to raise the price of energy. What of all the national parks that will now get oil and gas wells put on them now? (I just visited one this last weekend, people were protesting it) Predators don't care about the consequences, just their consumption. And humans have evolved to where no killing is (strictly) necessary.

And now that I think about it, ask the CIA about eliminating political opponents. Ask Saddam Hussein. Ask nut-jobs Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich the price of being a political opponent of the mainstream.

Posted by tim at November 10, 2008 05:54 PM

Yes. Bush can pardon himself for crimes he and his repulsive cohorts may be accused of later by resorting to the Weasel Defense:

A day before leaving office, the Weasel pardons Cheney, then resigns. The last day of the presidency, Cheney pardons the Weasel.

Posted by josh gilbert at November 10, 2008 09:33 PM

Bush hasn't been IMPEACHED by now, AFTER the last 8 years, knowing what WE all NOW know, while being ripped off for TRILLIONS, WHY BOTHER pardoning himself or anybody. NOBODY is going to press charges, no arrest, no trial, no investigation, no need for pardons.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 10, 2008 10:26 PM

Don't you think Gingrich and his boys regret it now?

No, because they made impeachment a toxic tactic for a long while to come. "Partisan witchhunt", doncha know. Even when used to investigate and deal with torture, domestic spying, lies to drive us to war, politicization of the justice system, and defiance of the laws ad constitution.

The Republicans took impeachment off the table by connecting it in the popular mind with petty, intrusive, political punishment.

They don't regret it a bit.

Posted by Nell at November 10, 2008 10:56 PM

stop kidding yourselves

Bush is going to issue the most sweeping tsunami of a pardon that it is going to make our heads swim.

I don't see how there can be any doubt.

Posted by mario at November 10, 2008 11:38 PM

Nell: Hate to disagree, it was Nancy Pelosi, as the 06 election showed the people's desire to IMPEACH.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 11, 2008 12:53 AM

No, because they made impeachment a toxic tactic for a long while to come.

Yes, but Gingrich himself, do you think he would prefer to be talking head on Fox to being the (arguably) third most powerful primate in the known part of the universe? And his lackeys, like Tony Blankley, don't you think they'd prefer to be bootlicked by the crowds of admiring journos - rather than doing bootlicking themselves? There is no question in my mind that they regret the whole impeachment thing and regard it the worst mistake in their lifetime.

And notice that Gingrich was kicked out for having affair with a staffer. I'd bet a bunch of money that there is no single elected rep in Washington who has never screwed a staffer; that's as much a part of the package as the office supplies.

If they start a war they'll all lose.

Posted by abb1 at November 11, 2008 03:29 AM

Bush is going to issue the most sweeping tsunami of a pardon that it is going to make our heads swim.

This is the truth if I've ever heard it. It will be oh so fun to watch everyone bloviate and posture and then do nothing when he does too.

Posted by tim at November 11, 2008 05:26 AM

Call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and ask about IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 11, 2008 01:30 PM