Horrors! He fist-bumped Santa Claus.
Is George Bush preparing to give himself a presidential pardon? On first hearing, the idea sounds utterly incredible and outrageous. How can the head of a state in which respect for the law remains an active part of the national DNA even contemplate such an arbitrary and shameless act of apparent lawlessness? Amnesties and pardons of this kind are the stock-in-trade of tinpot dictators, not constitutional leaders. And yet …
A Bush pardon would be a sensational final act to the most divisive presidency in modern America. But he certainly has the power to grant it. Article 2 section 2 of the US constitution gives the president the power to grant reprieves and pardons. The US courts have traditionally interpreted this power widely, to include amnesties, conditional pardons and blanket pardons. And all presidents have used the power – Harry Truman’s 1,913 pardons is the postwar record…
Not even Richard Nixon pardoned himself. It fell to his hapless successor Gerald Ford to announce, a month after Nixon’s resignation in August 1974, that it was time to draw the line. Nixon had been at the centre of “an American tragedy in which we all have played a part”, Ford announced in a broadcast. “It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.”
There were a few occasions when I thought that even George W. Bush wouldn’t be crass enough, egregious, ignorant enough to try to get away with something the American people wouldn’t eventually catch him out with. He always proved me wrong.
I won’t be surprised if he tries this one.