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.