The Writing on the Wall

While I’d much rather spend the twenty minutes of free time I have this afternoon writing about tonight’s extremely important presidential address on the future of the war in Afghanistan–HINT: Obama will vote “present” and proceed to blame his Republican predecessors–I’ve been absolutely incensed by the response to an earlier piece on Mike Huckabee and his facilitative role in the unfortunate deaths of four Lakewood, WA police officers this past weekend.

Earlier today, I wrote in a comment following that piece that the “writing was on the wall” with regard to Maurice Clemmons, the criminal in question who was on the streets in part because Huckabee, as former Arkansas governor, commuted his sentence and allowed him to go free.

I likened the situation to a dram shop action. Looked at in such a context, Clemmons–and his well-established criminal record–would be the visibly intoxicated, fall-down-drunk patron, and Huckabee would be the bartender who poured him another double or two, gave him a cursory once-over and asked “hey, buddy, are you okay to drive home?” before booting him out of the bar and onto the highway. While Mike Huckabee may not have proximately caused the deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards, his leniency with Maurice Clemmons certainly facilitated the incident.

And I feel for the governor. I like him, I always have, and I really do feel for him. He strikes me as a man of tremendous moral character, and this cannot be easy. Furthermore, I appreciate that he is willing to add his own responsibility to the responsibility which falls on the other facets of the failed criminal justice system (see, for example, THIS story) — but if there has ever been a time for myopic accountability, it is now.

What has angered me are those who are so eager, either out of love for Mike Huckabee or compassion for Maurice Clemmons, to dismiss the notion that Clemmons had an extremely visible and intensely violent past at the time when his sentence was commuted, simply because one of the many people highlighting that criminal history was blogger Michelle Malkin, certainly not a fan of Huckabee.

The facts regarding Clemmons’ checkered past were dismissed as nothing more than “Malkin maltruths.” Clip after clip and story after story could be dug up showing hateful attacks by Malkin on Huckabee, and this was just one more case of that bias. Only a cold man, one person wrote, could let a kid “rot in jail for these types of crimes,” and “the main crime” perpetrated by Clemmons was simply “being born black.”

All I see are excuses. This isn’t an issue of black or white. This is an issue of right versus wrong, and the writing is indeed on the wall. Here’s some of that writing, not from Michelle Malkin but rather from the Seattle Times:

In 1990, Clemmons, then 18, was sentenced in Arkansas to 60 years in prison for burglary and theft of property, according to a news account in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Newspaper stories describe a series of disturbing incidents involving Clemmons while he was being tried in Arkansas on various charges.

During one trial, Clemmons was shackled in leg irons and seated next to a uniformed officer. The presiding judge ordered the extra security because he felt Clemmons had threatened him, court records show.

Another time, Clemmons hid a hinge in his sock, and was accused of intending to use it as a weapon. Yet another time, Clemmons took a lock from a holding cell, and threw it toward the bailiff. He missed and instead hit Clemmons’ mother, who had come to bring him street clothes, according to records and published reports.

On another occasion, Clemmons had reached for a guard’s pistol during transport to the courtroom.

When Clemmons received the 60-year sentence, he was already serving 48 years on five felony convictions and facing up to 95 more years on charges of robbery, theft of property and possessing a handgun on school property. Records from Clemmons’ sentencing described him as 5-foot-7 and 108 pounds. The crimes were committed when he was 17.

Clemmons served 11 years before being released.

News accounts say Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ sentence, citing Clemmons’ young age at the time the crimes were committed.

But Clemmons remained on parole — and soon after landed in trouble again. In March 2001, he was accused of violating his parole by committing aggravated robbery and theft, according to a story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Clemmons sounds like a lovely kid. If he’s willing to reach for a guard’s pistol while in custody, I’m sure that mentoring will do a wonderful job. Heck, after he was done with the latest after-school program, why not hire him as a babysitter? Here’s more of that writing, this not from Malkin, either, but rather from the Arkansas Times:

To clarify matters, here’s what state Correction Department spokesman Dina Tyler says the state record shows for a criminal past for Maurice Clemmons (shown in LRPD mugshot), who’s being sought for questioning in the slaying of four Washington police officers. (UPDATE on earlier: Clemmons turned out not to be inside a house that officers had surrounded most of the night.)

  • Sentenced to 5 years for robbery in Pulaski County, Aug. 3, 1989.
  • Sentenced to 8 years for burglary, theft and probation revocation in Pulaski County, Sept. 9, 1989
  • Sentenced to an indeterminate amount for aggravated robbery and theft in Pulaski County, Nov. 15, 1989
  • Sentenced to 20 years each for burglary and theft of property in Pulaski County, Feb. 23, 1990.
  • Sentenced to 6 years for firearm possession in Pulaski County, Nov. 19, 1990.

Tyler said some sentences were concurrent and some consecutive. But the total effect of all these sentences was a sentence of 108 years.

On May 3, 2000, Gov. Mike Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ sentence to 47 years, 5 months and 19 days, which made him eligible for parole that day. The Parole Board granted his parole July 13, 2000. He was released Aug. 1, 2000.

Clemmons then returned to prison for a July 13, 2001 conviction for robbery in Ouachita County, for which he received a 10-year sentence. He was paroled March 18, 2004.

And I could go on, and on, and on, and on. All from sources with no ties whatsoever to that evil, Huckabee-hating Michelle Malkin and her perceived or actual bias. Quite honestly, what I’ve seen from the blanket supporters of and apologists for Mike Huckabee today smacks of the behavior we see from blanket supporters of and apologists for Barack Obama — faced with Republican opposition to Obama’s plans for health care reform, for example, Obama supporters chose to attack a chosen messenger (in this case, Fox News Channel) rather than confront the relevant facts and contents of the legislation in question; here, faced with light being shined on Huckabee’s unfortunate record of leniency with regard to violent criminals, Huckabee supporters have chosen to attack Michelle Malkin as that messenger rather than confront the facts and realities surrounding the murderer in question and his checkered past.

Face reality, people — the writing was on the wall about Maurice Clemmons. Black or white, Maurice Clemmons was a bad guy. Bad as in murderous. Bad as in evil. And right now, there are nine children who will never see their fathers or their mother again because the same sort of people who are vehemently defending Mike Huckabee’s malfeasance here fail to see the difference between good and evil and refuse to take a disinterested look at the facts.

And why is this so gosh-darned relevant? Perhaps because, in America right now, we are locked in the modern manifestation of the quintessential struggle between good and evil, and it is imperative that our people and our leaders are able to tell the two apart. Barack Obama cannot. Jimmy “Dhimmi” Carter cannot. John Kerry cannot. And, it seems, Mike Huckabee and those who vehemently defend him on this cannot, either.

Would I walk into the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and hand Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a loaded pistol? Of course not. Would I trust my child with a just-paroled child rapist? Of course not. Because I know that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is pure, unadulterated evil and will kill me where I stand, and because I know that raping a child isn’t like sticking up a convenience store because you need money for a car payment. Sometimes, folks, it is necessary to err on the side of the safety and security of innocent men, women and children, even if it comes at the expense of people who had their chance to prove their own goodness — or, in the case of Maurice Clemmons, had several chances to do so.

Let’s stop with the excuses and call this what it was — a bad decision made by a good man. My problem with Huckabee’s reaction is that he should be overcompensating with regard to accountability in this case. As I said earlier today, I want Huckabee to articulate the “but for” argument: but for his decision to commute the sentence of Maurice Clemmons, for whom the writing was most certainly on the wall, the failures of the criminal justice systems in Arkansas and Washington State would be matters to be discussed at a later date, as Clemmons would not have had the chance to exploit them for the freedom necessary to murder four cops.

That’s the kind of myopic accountability I’d like to see from Mike Huckabee. And as for his ardent supporters, I’d like to see a more disinterested assessment of the facts. Pretend, for instance, that Maurice Clemmons was Mitt Romney’s Willie Horton, and examine his record accordingly.

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Comments

  1. Boston Blackie says:

    Jeff,
    Maybe it is the terrible avoidable tragedy combined with the loss for these family members that none of us will hopefully ever experience but your words brought tears to my eyes.
    Thank you for speaking the truth, as always.

  2. Bodenzee says:

    Jeff,

    Your reaction to Huckabee is just one more example of why we need to turn out 537 politicians.

    Re-read "The Prince" sometime. Machiavelli recommends that the conqueror "kill off" at least the top two layers of the conquered village, otherwise they'll restore the old order.

    I followed this advice with all but one acquisition. That was the only one that was a real problem. Never made that mistake again.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Being the Mother of two young Police Officers myself, my heart aches for these fallen heroes and their families. I am not a Huckabee lover or hater but after reading several articles about this terrible tragedy I am sure Gov. Huckabee must have a very heavy heart right now. You can ask any Police Officer what is the most frustrating thing about their line of work and they will tell you the Judicial System is not supportive enough. They arrest the same people over and over and all that person gets is a slap on the wrist from the courts. Read this article too….

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=34636

    Sally

  4. Anonymous says:

    Huckabee played a role, as did many others for what transpired.

    I can't believe he had a 15k bail set for his most recent charges and that was in Washington or Oregon, where's the outrage there ?

    Yes, Huckabee played a role.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Jeff:

    I read your addition to the case. It appears you are trying to explain yourself as to your position. My opinion still has not changed.

    I see the problem with the system. If a person has a bunch of robberies when they are a teenager, all within a year's time and ten years later appears to have their act together and perfect citizenship in the prison where they are kept, it might appear that they will be going the right path and be able to be released.

    Then, in 2001 he commits robbery. How did he get paroled after that incident? Did Huckabee commute his sentence AGAIN? Shouldn't an act like that get you in the slammer for good? How is that Huckabee's fault that the guy is paroled a second time? There should be some red flag on the guy if he ever gets in trouble with the law again.

    Unless Huckabee gave him parole a second time, you can't fault him, I'm sorry Jeff. It is obvious to me that robberies all within a months time period when you are 17 years old could be due to the people he hangs out with/drugs/family problems. Depending upon the explanations given. God forbid you have a child that has those problems. Give me a break. I can't see anything wrong except for the way it turned out.

    I don't see that 4 robberies in 6 months when you are 17 years old says that you are going to murder someone. Where is the notice? When the guy attempted to get the pistol, was that when he was 17 as well? 17 year olds aren't that bright, as a whole. I'm still not impressed and I still don't see the notice that he would commit murder or even robbery down the line. I see that he did in 2001 but how did that convert into another parole?

    And, as I said before, Huckabee is going to be VERY careful in the future with any case like this. He feels it and he didn't like his decision. But to say that he is bad, or that you would have done better, is really asking to fall flat on your face.

    You cannot read minds either Jeff, face that fact. You just have the information that Huckabee has now, and Huckabee would be making the decision you would NOW as well.

    If it were one of my family members who died, I would be very subjective and hate everyone involved, not just Huckabee. I don't know what you have against Huckabee and no, I'm willing to see a fault if there was one. I just can't see one in this circumstance.

    And like decisions he will make in the future will be severely curtailed by himself because of his painful personal experience to not trust people.

    I very much disagree with you. I hope you are not misleading many of your followers and that they would make independent judgements for themselves. Show me a better person than Huckabee and I would love to vote for him/her. I like the fact he felt the impact of this decision, I like the fact that he is admitting a wrong decision now that he has the facts, and I like the fact that I believe he will make more conservative decisions in the future.

    I don't know how you get better than that.

    mmm

  6. Boston Blackie says:

    Anon 5:21PM -
    "I hope you are not misleading many of your followers and that they would make independent judgements for themselves."

    We are not "followers", we are readers who enjoy this website. I am sure most here would agree we have our own opinions and know we can speak our mind on this site without demeaning responses when someone else disagrees. I do not agree with your opinion on this subject but you have the right to voice it, as does Jeff.
    P.S.
    I would love to see his juvy record. Most violent criminals start out abusing animals then move up to humans. My mother taught us to watch how a man treats a dog, that is how he will treat his wife.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ok, after reading every thing I could about Clemmons this is my opinion. He "played" the system just like 99% of all those behind bars. Over and over they blame someone else for the way their life turned out. He not only played the "Christian card", which many prisoners do but he also played the "race card". He knew this rape was going to be his 3rd strike and he would finally live the rest of his life behind bars. He hated Cops and he chose the "suicide by Cop" way out. I just hope we don't have any copycat nutcases out there.

  8. Robert Wallace says:

    "I'd like to see a more disinterested assessment of the facts. Pretend, for instance, that Maurice Clemmons was Mitt Romney's Willie Horton, and examine his record accordingly. "

    That line cracks me up. Especially in light of the most recent Anonymous posting. Can you imagine if Romney had pardoned Clemmons? And Huckabee supporters would rush out to say that we should read a Romney press release because he is "the one who actually knows [the facts]".

    Exposing the rampant biases of Huckabee supporters is a very important part of this story.

    As conservatives we need to be above this ridiculous personality cult mentality.

  9. Gail B says:

    Anon at 5:21 PM–

    At 17 yoa (yrs of age), I knew the difference between right and wrong. Not once have I been arrested for anything I did on purpose. (I did get to sit in the slammer for an hour or two about 45 years ago because I'd made a math error in my checkbook that caused a check to the dry cleaners to bounce, but that wasn't hard to clean up, nor was anyone injured!)

    At age 17, Clemmons should have known that he was making bad choices for himself and others. The term "habitual offender" comes to mind.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have watched O'Reilly's reports on judges who released child abusers back on the street to commit more rapes, etc. and he was outraged and so was I and he vows that he will follow up on these judges and keep hounding them. We can't do anything about this criminal now but we MUST admit that the system failed these officers and their families…and Gov. Huckabee was part of the system. I don't envy what he must be going thru now but making excuses does nothing to help insure that a similar situation does not happen. There are governors and judges who are looking at releasing prisoners for one reason or another right now…they need to be IMPLORED to consider carefully what they are doing! Along with Huckabee's responsibility in this matter, the FAMILY and friends of this murderer must also be held responsible…they above everyone else knew what this man had done and was capable of doing and yet some of them protected him to the very end. Who knows what could have happened had someone made this man responsible from the very beginning for the crimes he committed. Did they do him a favor by enabling him? I have been waiting to hear Obama make a statement about the tragedy of the deaths of these officers…has he done so? My heart goes out to the families of these officers as we realize this didn't have to happen…there is much blame to go around but there seems to be only one name getting the most blame but I feel there were others just as guilty as Mike Huckabee.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, why not post Huckabee's article on your website? It would be helpful to learn the facts from the one who actually knows them.

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=34636

  12. Anonymous says:

    this was definitely a very bad, bad human. Until i read of all he had done, i too thought they were coming down too hard on Huckabee. i felt he was given a RECOMMENDATION by professoinals in their field and that this parole board in particular did not do their job.

    i'd like to know if Huckabee received a file with all that preceeded this man… IF he did then i do put some of this in his lap… as a governor if he was only allowed to see the final analysis by the parole board and nothing more then i say the larger blame goes to the individuals on the parole board for not doing their job.

    with a record like this how did ANY member on that board even CONSIDER the possibility of this animal in human form out among innocent citizens?

    there needs to be some kind of punishment levied on this parole board.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Please tell me Sarah doesn't have any clemency skeletons in her Alaskan closet.

  14. Anonymous says:

    At the risk of being called a purist, I agree with you Jeff. We simply cannot continue to sweep these things under the rug or we end up with gradualism at best. We cannot afford to go further down this hill either gradually or at full pace as this administration is doing.

    This is why I wrote a polite, but firm, letter to the RNC that 2008 marked the last year that I have cast a vote for a "lesser of two evils." I will "throw away" my vote with a write-in or third party if need be, but it is my CONSCIENCE and only my CONSCIENCE that will dictate my vote in the future. Divine Providence is in control and He will honor His people who stand up for truth and honor.

    We need a fresh new cast of characters for this year. No 2008 has-beens like Huckabee and Romney. New blood, please.

  15. Lisa says:

    Jeff:

    AGREED.

    'Nuff said.

    Lisa in TX

  16. Anonymous says:

    Read this article:
    [url]http://kevinmccullough.townhall.com/blog/g/64b058cc-52c1-407a-9f1c-2134166dbb28[/url]

  17. Anonymous says:

    I'm not going to give Huckabee a "Walk-away" on this,but what he did was almost 20 years ago.

    The major guilt is at the doorstep of the Washington system that knew this mans background as well as his current crimes and allowed him out on bail. By this time in his career he had shown who and what he was and the courts should have taken this into account.

    He was a risk to everyone in any community by his own actions. It's hard to lay this at Huckabee's feet in my mind…. although 20 years ago he shouldn't have reduced the sentence in the first place… The criminal justice system had ample chances to put this guy behind bars for life AFTER the reduction that Huckabee gave him.

    Mudbug

  18. Robert Wallace says:

    Ugh. Give me a break, anonymous 11:02pm. What do you think it accomplishes to link to an article that attempts to rehash facts Jeff has already covered? Twice?

    I've yet to see a single Huckabee devotee willingly address what Jeff has actually said, and I'm not going to hold my breath waiting.

    Huckabee truly is the Obama of the GOP, and his followers are just as unwilling to listen to reason.

  19. Robert Wallace says:

    Two more things:

    1. Everyone knows Huckabee didn't just let the guy walk. There were others at fault too. But the fact is that if Huckabee hadn't commuted the mans sentence by cutting it more than in 1/2 he wouldn't have been eligible for parole, and the fact that Huckabee commuted it to *exactly* the time required to make him eligible shows that it was Huckabee's intention that the guy walk.

    2. "I blame him less, because I believe his decision – as wrong as it turned out to be – was made far more conscientiously"

    THIS IS NOT HOW CONSERVATIVES JUDGE POLICY. As Milton Friedman put it (paraphrasing): You should never judge a policy by it's *intentions*, but only by it's *consequences*. We don't hand out brownie points for being the nice guy. If we did, then we'd be joining Obama's Apology Tour, campaigning for his health care reform, and protesting in favor of cap-and-trade!

    All of these ideas have warm, fuzzy motivations behind them. The trouble is that – no matter how well-intentioned – they are all disastrous for our country.

    So I don't care if Huckabee was well-intentiond when he commuted Clemmon's sentence (not to mention the hundreds of other felons whose sentences he reduced). This isn't a contest for Miss Congeniality and you don't get an A for effort. What I care about was whether or not Huckabee showed good judgment.

    He did not.

    Period.

    And – what's more – his rabid supporters are also failing to show good judgment in their inability to grasp reality and put facts ahead of emotions.

    Yes, a lot of other people screwed up. I am not accusing Huckabee of pulling the trigger or anythin like that. I'm not suggesting he violated any criminal laws or should be prosecuted.

    I'm just pointing out – along with Jeff and a lo of other common-sense conservatives – that when you put your good intentions ahead of your good sense this is what happens.

    In global warming, wealth redistribution, foreign policy, and in commuting sentences of violent criminals the result is always the same. And this is why we should leave it to liberals to make these mistakes and not apologize or defend conservatives who make them.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Huckabee's commutation of Clemmons' sentence from 108 to 47 years did not free Clemmons – it allowed him to be eligible for parole (after 11 years of incarceration). The judge who had sentenced Clemmons also recommended the commutation. Hindsight is 20/20, but do 16 year olds whose original sentence was deemed 'excessive' (in relation to the crimes he committed) and who have been incarcerated for 11 years not deserve another look?

    After Huckabee's commutation and Clemmons' eventual parole, the justice system in both Arkansas and Washington had numerous opportunities to put this guy away forever. The system failed to do so. Huckabee was one player in a long line of subsequent players – each one of whom had more information available to him than the last, and each one failed to put the brakes on this guy.

    I do not blame Huckabee any more than all the other people who were involved in decisions that ultimately resulted in the death of those 4 officers. In fact, I blame him less, because I believe his decision – as wrong as it turned out to be – was made far more conscientiously than the subsequent decisions made by the parole boards and judges who Clemmons encountered along his path to ultimate destruction.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Anon 9:04am abovej, and everything he says, I second it.

    Robert, really, who is better than Huckabee? I am willing to listen. Romney has his issues as well and appears a lot more likely to flip flop on issues of moral character than does Huckabee.

    Yet, I must let you know that I don't care who runs for the GOP in 2012 but you have to use some common sense. I still don't see the terribleness in Huckabee and by dragging his name through the mud, you are, in essence, ruining his chances of running. That is how the GOP has acted all too frequently, shooting itself in its own foot (so to speak).

    And I will vote for whoever is elected for the GOP. The lesser of two evils, I am aware. I really don't "Love" any person in the GOP or republican, including you. Everyone has different opinions, that is what makes the world a beautiful place. We all should have different opinions, that is obvious to me.

    What bothers me is not the fact that you say Huckabee made a bad decision, he admits that himself, but that you and Jeff use too much emotion in saying so. You need to control your feelings on the matter and try to look at it objectively and think what your comments are going to do to the GOP race.

    Huckabee was listed at 20% of the population's choice just recently for the GOP 2012, more percentage than any other potential runner up. Yes, I do think he is dramatically better than Obama, and I believe a lot would agree with that statement. To stoop so low as to say he is the "Obama" of the GOP is really beneath whoever said it above.

    Just keep it real. I think you are way tooooo much in your comments about Huckabee. You even agree he is not the only responsibile party. Keep focused on the health of our party in 2012. Continual bashing of potential running mates will not be healthy for the GOP.

    God forbid Obama gets elected for a second term, but that will happen if the GOP starts eating its own again. . .

    mmm

  22. Anonymous says:

    If Romney were replaced with Huckabee's in this situation I would absolutely not blame him given the facts of this 16 year olds crimes. I wonder if you would be attacking him? I doubt it. You'd remain completely silent or mention it only in passing. The goal of Romney supporters right now is to pick off Huckabee's 2012 chances. That's clear and simple and the only reason the issue is being pushed here at Americas Right. When are you going to talk about all the dead babies in Mass. thanks to Romney's $50 abortions? We have a massive healtcare debate going on. Let's talk about the failure of RomneyCare. No those subjects will only be mentioned in passing and not in depth.

    Another thing that is very obvious is that few people have ever worked with troubled kids. Try crossing the tracks and volunteering some time with them. I spend time with these kids and I know what their lives are like. The writing was not and never has to be on the wall. Mentoring does work and I can see how naive Jeff is about that subject. More churches need to get involved but that takes people willing to volunteer. Step out of your comfort zone and get out there. Make a difference in a troubled kids life so these horrible things don't happen.

    http://newsrealblog.com/2009/12/01/why-are-conservatives-so-quick-to-eat-their-own/#comment-28405

  23. Still a Patriot says:

    Jeff & Robert -

    I am distressed at the way you have characterized Huckabee's supporters here as "rabid" & fanatical. I have read & re-read the comments & the majority of them were thoughtful & well -reasoned. I especially note Grace 77×7, William A. Rose, & Anonymous mmm.

    I would like you to answer Grace's question – "Again I ask you – what information do you have access to that should have made it so clearcut to Huckabee that Clemmons "was obviously a danger" at that point in time?"

    I agree totally with Anonymous @ 7:18 am -"After Huckabee's commutation and Clemmons' eventual parole, the justice system in both Arkansas and Washington had numerous opportunities to put this guy away forever. The system failed to do so. Huckabee was one player in a long line of subsequent players – each one of whom had more information available to him than the last, and each one failed to put the brakes on this guy."

    Jeff, I am extremely upset with your lack of objectivity here, & your & Robert's obvious disdain for people who have admired & followed an extraordinary man, Mike Huckabee. I think we have for the most part tried to look at the facts in the case & be reasonable.

    Susan

  24. sharon says:

    This has nothing to do with the Huckabee situation, but in regard to juvenile crime.

    My niece was killed by a drunk, 16 yr. old in 2003. Broadsided as her husband went through the green light and the 16 yr old the red light in the opposite direction. Her husband survived although was critical for two weeks, many surgeries have followed. She was 27 yrs old and left three children. Not one day of jail time for the juvenile… not one. His father, a lawyer, got him the best defense ever. He did lose his license until he was 21…..All we can do as a family is hope and pray he leads a productive life. We cannot even follow his progress as the juvenile records are locked up… The law sucks sometimes,and sometimes juveniles get off far to easy..

    I feel awful for the families of the police officers, especially because obviously there were many many signs this would happen again.

  25. Robert Wallace says:

    Anon @9:04 -

    Your entire post is misplaced. I was a big Romney supporter in 2008. I'm not nearly as supportive as I was then. I was particularly disgusted with his failure to take a stand in the NY-23 race. So the notion that I'm piling on Huckabee just to give Romney a clear shot is nonsense. I'm not interested in giving *anyone* a clear shot at this point, because none of the potential candidates have proved themselves to me.

    Furthermore, I disagree with the entire notion that the GOP / conservative movement really needs a figurehead right now. What we need is more grassroots involvement – not some Great Leader (Romney or anyone else) to rescue us.

    Anon @10:10 -

    Huckabee is at the bottom of my list for potential candidates in 2012 because I do not believe he is a genuine conservative. There is a long list of people I would rather see than him, from Romney to Palin to DeMint to Boehner.

    But your question misses the point: I'm not interested in taking anyone out, and I don't think Jeff is either. I can't speak for Jeff, but the reason I'm hard on Huckabee in this case is that it fits a pattern he had of recklessly wielding the authority of his office to overrule the sentences passed by courts.

    Anon @ 9:04 wants us to believe the writing isn't on the wall. Fine. That's all well and good, but the fact is that if you are going to step in as governor and override the result of a fair jury trial you damn well better have a better reason than "we can't be sure". It's not enough to say "no one could have predicted this," because when Huckabee used his power to help this criminal get out he had a solemn obligation to be sure of what he was doing.

    It also fits into the broader pattern of corruption that earned Huckabee a top-10 nomination for "most corrupt politicians in the US" back in 2007 from a non-partisan group (Hillary and Barack were also both in the top 10).

    Still a Patriot (Susan) -

    For better or worse Huckabee devotees have a well-earned reputation for, shall we say, loyalty. We know that when Huckabee shows up at AR or other blogs that immediately the word goes out on the Huckabee sites to run over en masse to defend your guy.

    So the combination of the volume of the responses and some of the glaringly ridiculous claims ("Read Huckabee's own account because he knows the most" is still my favorite) led me to call the response "rabid" and I stick by it. I don't believe that every Huckabee supporter is, or even that most are. But when you guys act in droves you give that impression.

    As for Grace's question, I addressed that above (in my response to anon @ 10:10). Huckabee was not making a de novo judgment. He was abrogating an earlier decision by the criminal justice system. As such ignorance is no excuse. He had a responsibility not just to say "Hey, who knows what this kid might do?" but to have a damn strong reason for believing the man actually was not a threat. The burden of proof when commuting the sentence of a violent offender is on the one doing the commutation. Period.

    You say that you have tried to be objective. I don't want to argue your intentions. All I can say is that giving Huckabee the benefit of the doubt the way you and Grace suggest doing it *not* objective.

    I'm going to repeat this one more time because it is so vital: If you are going to let someone out of prison you had better make damn sure you know what you're doing. There was *plenty* of evidence to illustrate how dangerous this guy was. (Jeff has linked to most of it.) If Huckabee didn't know these things before commuting his sentence to make him eligible for parole it is Huckabee's fault for not doing his due diligence.

    That's the responsibility that comes with the power to commute sentences.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely "Amen" to Anonymous at 9:04 AM.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Robert said: "I'm going to repeat this one more time because it is so vital: If you are going to let someone out of prison you had better make damn sure you know what you're doing. There was *plenty* of evidence to illustrate how dangerous this guy was. (Jeff has linked to most of it.) If Huckabee didn't know these things before commuting his sentence to make him eligible for parole it is Huckabee's fault for not doing his due diligence."

    Huckabee did everything he was supposed to do. There were no objections raised to the commutation despite the lies you and Jeff are repeating. Absolutely no written objections from the prosecuter in the file. The alleged prison violations are not in the records sent to Huckabee nor the other items in the Seattle paper. Michelle Malkin's story is full of lies and and you bought into it without fact checking it. Where is your evidence, Robert? Have you looked at the files Huckabee had? Have you looked at the files the parole board had? Have you spoken with the prosecutor or the judge? This man did not exhibit psychotic behavior until this year. He moved to Washington in 2004, started a business in 2005. You obviously know nothing about mental illness but it obvious from his actions in 2009 that he had it. No one can predict what a person like this will do which is why after the psychiatric evaluation he should have been committed. Instead he was released into society with delusional notions that he could fly, and that he was Jesus. Not to mention he thought he saw people eating babies. This man had an unstable mind.

    Huckabee did his due diligence based on the facts of the case at that time. The written facts support him. He has sincerely expressed sorrow for the victims' families and has wished he could have looked ahead to know this would happen and then would not have commuted the sentence. He did not show poor judgment based on the crimes committed, the excessive penalty given and the information available.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Jeff for your views. I respect your opinion and I do believe the judicial system allows more criminals who have the intelligence to work the system get out. I also feel kids coming up today were not raised in the same environment I was in the 50's and 60's. There is a lot of blame for what is going on all around. This is a time to console those who have lost parents, spouses, friends and their children. This man Clemmons was the essence of evil. He did not know or acknowledge right from wrong and should never have been released into society. Our prison systems are jammed with all kinds of people and it is hard to decide who is "reformed" and who is not. The prison system does not have the ability or desire to do this kind of work. Until this system is reformed, one must assume they are not reformed and probably learn more evil in the system than outside. As for Mike Huckabee, this will not bode well for him. He made the decision regardless of how long ago it was made and why he made it. The one thing people will remember is the outcome – 4 police officers shot to death while they sat in a coffee shop. Unfortunately for those who adhere to conservative values, this will be hard if not impossible to overcome. This is more than a setback, it is a disaster since this is a second incident and who knows before the next election he may have someone else he pardoned commit another crime and another setback…. People are human, but the masses are unforgiving.

  29. Anonymous says:

    As usual, Susan, you express my thoughts completely. AR will begin to lose its appeal if Jeff and his co-host, Robert, continue to demonstrate such a lack of objectivity.

    I wonder why the change? I'm puzzled.

  30. TNelson says:

    First of all, let me start out by by making all kinds of people angry by saying I would never vote for Huckabee; His 'weenie' factor is way too high for a man that wants to lead the free world. I can't even watch his show without thinking I've fallen into some other dimension, watching Obama's evil-opposite-twin, the contrived personality the only thing that ties the two together. Bad reason for not voting for him perhaps, but my gut gives me bad vibes about that guy.

    Now that that's out of the way, I think there is a lot of grey area in this issue. As conservatives we tend to try to paint things with a broad brush too often. One thing we know for sure is that we will never know exactly what Huck knew at the time he made the decision. We can say we do, but that's all revisionist.

    Jeff tried to liken this to dram laws. I get what he's saying but it's a bad example. I have to refer back to Grace 77×7 2nd to last comment found in the comments section of the 'Not good enough' story. The arguments she raises are valid and on point. I also have to give props to Robert's comments @ 7:57. Those comments are spot on. Given these things, what is the proper judgement of the man (Huck)?

    I've not heard everything Huckabee has had to say on this, but I've not heard him deny any responsibility. He seems to be taking as much responsibility as he can for this…what should he do, turn the sword on himself?

    This is a tragic case all around and that is not lost on me. It raises a lot of questions about our criminal justice system. Speaking from personal experience I know I did a lot of things when I was young and stupid that could have landed me in juvinile; I never got caught. I wised up. (for the record, I never hurt anyone, but still). What would my life have turned into if I had become a number in the system? I don't know. At the same time, I know it would have been my fault had that happened.

    The answers to these questions are never ever cut-and-dried. A human factor has to enter into these things. It seems to me that Huckabee was 3rd in line in a series of human errors, but he is if not least of all to blame, somewhat less to blame IMO. But still, he takes some of the blame.

    What if Clemmons had recieved proper counselling? If that had happened, he never would have killed those cops…what if the parole board did it's job? he never would have killed those cops…what if his daddy pulled out early….(o.k. that was crude but) you get the idea..

    The hypotheticals can go 'round and 'round but solve nothing. What many of us seem to be fixed on is the easy solution–not commute the sentence–but that doesn't always make it the right solution. Right decision in retrospect, but not a solution for the root issue that we all seem to be forgetting.

  31. Grace 77x7 says:

    @Robert Wallace,
    You suggest that Huckabee supporters suffer from emotional fanaticism, but I have not seen any of that here. Sounds more like a motion to dismiss. ;-)

    As someone kindly pointed out, I asked simply for a rational explanation of what information did Huckabee have in 2000 that shows bad judgment in commuting Clemmons' sentence?

    Yes, there were signs that Clemmons' was somewhat violent in 1990 – but we are talking about 10 yrs later. Was he still showing signs of violence or is it possible that he appeared to have settled down past the "street punk on adolescent hormones" stage as so many do?

    You assert that Huckabee should show have shown some kind of deference to the earlier decision by the court as if one should not question a judgment without giving an earth-shatteringly good reason for it.

    Well, I'm no legal expert, can you tell me why Clemmons' was serving 108yrs for 3 cases of theft & carrying a gun to school allegedly for self-defense at the age of 16? Is that normal? I've seen news accounts of guys convicted of rape receiving 10yrs or less & that's a h*ll of a lot more violent than Clemmons' crimes at that time.

    The only answer I have heard so far has been "well, there must have been SOMETHING for them to have given him such a long sentence".

    Okay, well sure, there must have been something – the issue here is what was "it"? You seem to want to assume that the judge & jury acted on some knowledge that is not part of the records now. How plausible is that? 108yrs?

    I hate people playing the racist card as much as anybody – but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, Huckabee's not black, & whites in AR do typically get significantly shorter sentences than blacks for the same criminal charges.

    So weighing the likelihood of the former over the latter, along with the criminal negligence of the AR prosecutor's office in handling WA's request to help block bail – the AR prosecutor who just happens to be the same one who screwed up when Clemmons should have been rejailed in 2003 & just happens to be the one screaming & finger-pointing at Huckabee the loudest.

    I'm not saying that you need to agree with Huckabee's decision. And I'll be honest, I do have issues with Huckabee's generosity in clemencies. I'm just asking you to be rational here: Hold Huckabee responsible for his part in this mess, but not everyone else's.

    P.S. As for the "if it were Romney" comment, my apologies if I am wrong, but aren't you one of the ones who was arguing that Romney should not be held responsible for all that was done to MA's healthcare after he passed it?

  32. Robert Wallace says:

    Grace 77×7

    Earlier one of Huckabee's Army argued that the final word on Huckabee should be what Huckabee says about himself. Now another one of Huckabee's Army (that would be you) is arguing that the final word on Huckabee's Army should be what Huckabee's Army says about itself.

    If you apply your standard to Obama, then obviously we should all stop complaining and just listen to what he says about himself, right?

    But of course you don't think we should apply that standard to Obama. We don't have to take him at his word. We can criticize and view other sources.

    So you've got one standard for people you don't like (Obama) and one standard for people you do like (Huckabee and yourselves).

    This is part of why I say you guys are fanatics.

    The rest of it is this:

    "I'm not saying that you need to agree with Huckabee's decision. And I'll be honest, I do have issues with Huckabee's generosity in clemencies. I'm just asking you to be rational here: Hold Huckabee responsible for his part in this mess, but not everyone else's."

    First of all: I didn't write either of these pieces. Jeff did. I jumped in because, from where I'm standing Jeff did exactly what you asked (blamed Huckabee for his part, but not everyone else's) and yet *ANY* criticism of Huckabee was too much for most of his supporters.

    I mean just look at what happened here. Jeff wrote one piece on Huckabee, but the Huckabee Army reaction was so intense that you guys provoked a *SECOND* article. Here we are 30 comments in to the second article and you don't seem to realize that it is your own diehard allegiance to the man that is becoming a bigger issue than his clemency error.

    I'll be honest: I don't like Huckabee. But the bigger story for me is not Huckabee himself, but the cult of personality that has grown around him.

    Oh, and as for your post script, I don't think I've discussed Romney's health care package in MA for months, and I certainly can't imagine myself saying what you think I said.

    I'm pretty sure you have me confused with someone else, although my memory might be worse than I thought.

  33. Grace 77x7 says:

    @Robert,
    you said, "Now another one of Huckabee's Army (that would be you) is arguing that the final word on Huckabee's Army should be what Huckabee's Army says about itself."

    I'm sorry, but I am completely mystified as to what you are talking about. When did I even mention Huck's Army or Huckabee's supporters other than in a very general way to disagree with the accusation of emotionalism on this subject in my last post?

    As for "provoking a second post" – um, my first response was to address Jeff's blatant emotionalizing of the subject in his previous article which I tried to respond to rationally in the comments. The fact that Jeff felt provoked to respond with a 2nd article demonstrates the strength of his emotions far more than ours.

    Jeff specifically said in his last article that Huckabee should "take complete and total responsibility". That is neither reasonable nor rational – it's emotional.

    Fault should be placed where it is due, but suggesting that he should take responsibility for everyone else's negligence is nuts. It sounds like Jegley is the one who should be answering for the deaths of those 4 cops more than anyone (after the shooter himself).

    Huckabee is responsible for reducing an unreasonably large sentence on a then 16 yr old – and even at 47yrs that seems steep.

    When you came to Jeff's defense here in addition to your disagreement with me, it certainly made it appear that you agreed with what Jeff was saying. My apologies for any misunderstandings, but you still have yet to explain where exactly you & Jeff disagree either.

  34. Robert Wallace says:

    Grace 77×7-

    I've got to tell you that I'm seriously just not that interested in this topic, but I do want to respond to your questions.

    "I'm sorry, but I am completely mystified as to what you are talking about."

    I'm using Huckabee's Army in a non-speicific way to reference you and the other folks who have come to defend your guy. Not the formal organization. And what I was specifically referring to was this line:

    "You suggest that Huckabee supporters suffer from emotional fanaticism, but I have not seen any of that here."

    You're simply stating your own observation as evidence that the loyal Huckabee fans aren't suffering from emotional fanaticism. And yet you are just such a loyal fan. It's a bit self-referential, don't you think?

    How seriously would you take it if a global warming scientist from CRU said something like "I've heard that the CRU scientists are biased, but I haven't seen anything to justify it".

    It's weird. The fact that you think it might actually be convincing is even weirder.

    "My apologies for any misunderstandings, but you still have yet to explain where exactly you & Jeff disagree either."

    I don't disagree with anything that Jeff wrote. I disagree with your characterization of what he wrote. Here are his actual words:

    "Of course, Clemmons is the one solely, directly responsible for the murders of those four Lakewood police officers, but complicity also lies in both Huckabee's failure as well as the failure of the judge …"

    Here is your version of his words:

    "Fault should be placed where it is due, but suggesting that he should take responsibility for everyone else's negligence is nuts"

    See the difference? Jeff flat-out stated that it wasn't all Huckabee's fault. And you flat-out stated the opposite. *That* is what I have a problem with.

    Look, I'm sure we agree on a ton of things. And don't let my brusque tone be mistaken for animosity. I'm just in a hurry.

    But here's the deal. IF Jeff had claimed that Huckabee should accept ALL responsibility and you and the rest of the Huckabee Fan Club had been reacting to that, I would be on your side.

    But Jeff didn't say that. Period.

    So I'm not sure what's going on. Either you guys honestly don't understand Jeff's point and this is all a misunderstanding, or you are so over-sensitive to criticism of Huckabee that your knee-jerk reaction is to *assume* Jeff is being overly harsh just by virtue of the fact that he's being critical.

    I don't know which is the case. And I'm not interested in trying to parse it out. From where I stand the simple fact is that Jeff pointed out that Huckabee had not taken on *enough* responsibility, but he didn't call for him to take on *all* responsibility. I agree with him. 100%.

    Then the Huckabee supporters started throwing around accusations that flatly got Jeff's statements wrong, and so here we are.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I am so done with America's Right. DONE!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Robert.

    Get a life and stop the childish belittling of those whose comments are "offensive" to you. AR is not the same anymore, and I wonder if it isn't related to your emotional, rather than intellectual, response to opinions that conflict with yours.

    And BTW, Jeff can take care of himself. AR isn't an elementary schoolyard and he doesn't need a big brother to make sure that he doesn't get roughed up. It's unseemly.

  37. Grace 77x7 says:

    (cont'd) Jeff then goes on to rant about Huckabee's complicity in a "but for the want of a nail…" sort of argument as if Huckabee's commutation caused all the failures that followed – except that they really did not.

    Following that kind of rationalization, if the 4 cops had not decided to have breakfast at that cafe that morning, they wouldn't have been murdered so it's their fault they were killed because of the decision they made that morning.

    Yes, that's extreme and ridiculous – but that's my point. Huckabee is not guilty of "complicity"; he is guilty of having made a decision that thru an incredible amount of subsequent bungling by others that followed led to a really bad & unfortunate outcome. He is not guilty of that outcome & shouldn't pretend to be.

    Arguing that Clemmons would have stayed locked up if Huckabee hadn't commuted his sentence is questionable, too. The jails are overcrowded. The sentence was bizarre in its extremity. The criminal justice system is way too flawed. At best, I suspect it would have simply put off the inevitable a bit longer.

    So then Jeff follows that up with copious snips of support from Malkin's derangement vendetta. (Using a tragedy & selectively reporting facts to make a politician you hate look as bad as possible is nothing less) Apparently seeing nothing in them worth checking on for himself (like the prosecutor's over-eagerness to hold up Huckabee for targeting, for example?).

    How much guilt is enough guilt for Huckabee to accept to satisfy? I have already argued only that which he could control. You and Jeff have already argued for something more that sounds a lot like all from this side of the monitor, but is nevertheless alleged to be something other.

    So where exactly are we when you say so here we are? Apparently in some nebulous region between my limited position and Malkin's all that cannot quite be defined but still looks an awful lot like something beyond what is real or true…

  38. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Folks,

    I've seen Robert's admittedly hasty tone, and I'm fine with it. I'm also fine with people perceiving that I somehow believe Mike should take all responsibility. I think that's a misunderstanding.

    He is in an incredibly difficult position, and the part that I had a problem with was that he could even think about blaming anyone other than himself. I guess I'm just the kind of guy who always takes too much accountability, and figured that a decent man like Huckabee was like myself in that.

    Should I have been in his shoes, I don't know that I would be able to concentrate on anything but my own ability to have stopped the events at the root. I'd be devastated, as I'm sure he is. But no matter how much you tried to tell me that other judges were at fault, other boards were at fault, and even that those cops didn't have to eat breakfast where they did that morning, I don't know that it would help.

    I'd know, in my heart, that I had a chance at the beginning to ensure this didn't happen. If asked about it, as unfair as it might be for myself, I truly, honestly would not want to hear that anybody but myself were responsible for that man being free.

    I think it was Bill Rose–a favorite commenter of mine, by the way–who first asked if I had ever done anything which blew up in my face. Oh, I have. Oh, I have.

    My current financial situation is largely my fault. But even though there have been other factors (medical bills, the housing market, etc.) that people might say contributed to it, the decisions I made were mine alone. I only had a chance to control so much, and in the case of certain decisions, I screwed the pooch. Sure, medical bills popped up and the housing market tanked, but gosh darn it — if I hadn't gotten too much house, and if I hadn't made certain decisions, no amount of bills or market problems would have put us in such a position.

    Similarly, Maurice Clemmons' life was in Mike Huckabee's hands for a limited amount of time. It was also in the hands of various parole boards, other judges, and other people. When the ball was in Huckabee's court, however, he flubbed it.

    It was a terrible decision made by a good man. I take issue with the decision made, but I also take issue with the fact that he could even entertain, personally, that there were others responsible.

    I don't know if that makes sense. I don't know how else to explain it.

    (to be continued — I've never hit the max before)

  39. Revolvr says:

    As I understand it, as governor, he is required by law to review all sentences. 1200 of them! That is nuts. If he spent a mere 2 minutes with each, that's a full 40 hour week.

    So what do you do? Rubber stamp the judge and parole board recommendations.

    I'm not happy with Huckabee, but seriously, there's a lot of blame to go around and a lot of things that need to get fixed to prevent a recurrence. Fixating on Huckabee is not going to lead to solutions.

  40. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Now, as for Huckabee being the right's Obama, I agree. I know, I know, it makes you angry. I understand it.

    But when you look at the way people support Obama–refusing to look at facts in the course of providing unwavering support, choosing to attack the messenger rather than address the issues and facts in a debate–I see the same sort of allegiance with regard to Huckabee.

    I see that sort of loyalty with Sarah Palin a bit, too. But I don't see it with anyone else, on either side.

    People who like Mitt Romney aren't willing to give him a pass when certain facts are presented which work against him. Same with Hillary Clinton. Huckabee and Obama are different in that regard. They can do no wrong, and even if the facts show that they did, the facts are denied, the messenger is shot, or their actions are rationalized.

    There is no candidate out there that will have unwavering support from me. Support needs to be earned and maintained.

    Do I get emotional? Absolutely. But I get emotional about principle, and the abandonment thereof.

    Now, people … all that being said, I appreciate y'all keeping things civil. The fella above me said that AR isn't the same anymore — well, he's right. I'm trying … we're trying … to bring about focus here and maintain it, a focus on limited government, Jeffersonian principles, and conservative values.

    And when it comes to the comments, things are looking different as well. Comments are, for the most part, germane to the topic at hand. Links are often accompanied with a summary of what can be found. I appreciate the effort, and I think there's been a more intelligent debate than we've seen in a while because of it.

    And I like that we get passionate. I relish in the fight — it sharpens our message, it keeps us alert, it fosters a will to get better informed.

    If there is bona fide belittling, let me know about it in an e-mail. But if it's stubbornness, find a better argument or some more clear facts.

    That's all for now. I need to study.

    Jeff

  41. Grace 77x7 says:

    Well, Jeff, having been making the rounds on more than a few political blogs since the 2008 run began (in 2007) to date, I am amazed (to put it politely) that you have only seen Obama-level fanaticism in Huckabee & Palin followers.

    Had I the time, I would share with you the many irrational & bizarre exchanges I have had with Romney supporters. Listening to self-professed economic conservatives justifying MA-care, for ex, is no less than a trip! But I suppose it all depends where you surf & who you hang with.

    I do know a few Huckabee "cheerleaders", but most I've encountered are calm & rational. I've run into a lot of irrational Palin-ites and Paul-enteers on the net, but there are still many decent & intelligent ones out there. But it is natural for humans to generalize & stereotype, unfortunately that's where bigotries can develop.

    At any rate, I'm sorry, but your position on Huckabee does not make sense to me. It does not appear to be based on a rational appraisal of the facts from Huckabee's position, but a continued focus on the ultimate outcome and damning him in hindsight.

    You say you cannot understand why Huckabee did not respond to the Clemmons situation as you yourself would have. Is that how you base your judgment of others? Isn't that just a tad arrogant? The only right way – the only forgivable way – for Huckabee to have acted was to adopt an irrational & disproportionate sense of guilt?

    People are not all wired the same way – some people have a temperament that is more emotional and others tend to have a temperament that is more logical.

    Correct me where I'm wrong, but you seem to be saying that you cannot excuse Huckabee for reacting logically & apprising the situation realistically instead of emotionally and, well, hysterically.

  42. Still a Patriot says:

    Robert said & Jeff agrees with him:
    "Huckabee truly is the Obama of the GOP, and his followers are just as unwilling to listen to reason."

    I find this comment greviously insulting. Robert, I have been reading & commenting here at AR since before you came along. I didn't just run over from Huck's Army. For someone who is "seriously not interested in this topic" you have been very vocal and accusing.

    I think I need to take a break from this site.

    Susan

  43. TNelson says:

    I've enjoyed the debate and many of the arguments expressed here, but I think as far as AR is concerned, this matter is closed. I move that the comments thread to this story be locked. Lets move on folks.

  44. MOVEONgop.ORG says:

    I'm not keen on Huckabee but crucifying him and his apostles in here is over the top. Cream will float to the top in the next 2 years.

  45. Gail B says:

    My head hurts!

  46. Lynn says:

    Left a comment here last night…wondering if it's going to appear? Thanks!

  47. Lynn says:

    Comment from two nights ago has not appeared. Wondering…was it received? Did not pass the moderation test? I tried to make it as full of facts as possible, and respectful—more respectful by far than anything written here lately about the Huckabee supporters.

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