Something else died Sunday morning along with the four police officers in Lakewood Washington: Mike Huckabee’s presidential dreams. In case you haven’t been following the case, the shooter, Maurice Clemmons, had been serving time in an Arkansas penitentiary for armed robbery and theft before Gov. Huckabee commuted his sentence and released him 9 years ago. After his release Clemmons committed numerous felonies including raping a 12 year old girl.
As Michelle Malkin notes, Huckabee has a long history of paroling or commuting the sentences of violent offenders. I believe that this is due to the Governor’s belief in repentance and salvation, part of his Southern Baptist faith. Repentance is a key concept in the faith, as it deems all men sinners until accepting redemption through Jesus Christ.
I make specific mention of Huckabee’s faith because it has been something that he has used as a political tool to garner support from the Religious Wing of the Republican party. While this made him attractive to that wing, it turned off those on the Libertarian wing of the party and made it unlikely that he would ever gain enough votes from both wings in the party during the primaries to gain the party’s presidential nomination.
Huckabee has tried to distance himself from the decisions made to free felons like Maurice Clemmons, blaming “the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state” and making no mention of his personal role in freeing Clemmons. By shifting personal responsibility to impersonal institutions, Huckabee is hoping to avoid the questioning of his poor judgment caused by his faith. As Malkin notes in this 2005 Arkansas Times’ piece about the death in prison of Wayne Dumond, a rapist and killer freed by Huckabee who went on to kill again,
The occasion prompts us to republish Murray Waas’ prize-winning article for the Arkansas Times in 2002 about the extraordinary steps Gov. Mike Huckabee took to help win Dumond’s freedom. He has since blamed others for Dumond’s release to kill again, but his actions over many years demonstrated his support for Dumond and, ultimately, the instrumental role he played in the parole board’s decision to free him.
The problem for Huckabee is that these aren’t flukes. Using a software analogy, they aren’t bugs: they are features of the system. A devout Southern Baptist would have to believe that redemption of even the most heinous criminal was possible, and it would require such a believer to divorce his religious beliefs from his secular responsibilities. Huckabee has clearly shown that it was impossible for him to compartmentalize these two spheres in his life.
Worse, by resorting to tarring institutions instead of accepting responsibility Huckabee is acting like the liberals he usually criticizes. Finally, by stating “If I could have known nine years ago this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously I would never have granted a commutation” Huckabee shows poor, liberal-like judgment. His actions would be expected from a bleeding heart, not from a member of Ronald Reagan’s own party.
Some liberals are already using these pardons to tar the Republican Party and conservatives. Their attempts are aided by Bill O’Reilly who has risen to the defense of his fellow Fox News commentator. The liberals can get as excited as they want; they will not nominate the next Republican presidential candidate. But the likes of Michelle Malkin and others on the Right will.
Mike Huckabee’s dreams of holding higher office died at the Forza coffee shop along with the four police officers. The latter is a clear, irrefutable tragedy; the former may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the country given the terrible judgment shown by the governor.