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July 3, 2007

Reflections on "Bush the merciful"

Capital punishment specialists eager to join in all the Scooter commutation excitement should besure to check out this (inflamatory? unfair?) comparison of clemency considerations in the cases of Karla Faye Tucker and Scooter Libby from Jonathon Miller in a post entitled "Bush the merciful":

George Bush has not commuted a single one of the 155 death sentences for which he has been responsible as governor of Texas and president of the United States.  Not that he is without mercy.  Scooter Libby, a political crony of the vice president convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to prison, will not spend a day in jail, thanks to Bush’s intervention.  Bush smirked as he sent Karla Tucker, the cutest of his victims, to the lethal injection chamber, counting as for nothing the horrendous circumstances of her life and what seemed subsequently to be genuine remorse for her actions.  Crowds outside the prison cheered as Karla Tucker was killed.  Karla Tucker was of course merely a former drug addict and prostitute who used to hang out with the Allman Brothers band, whereas Libby was a graduate of Andover Academy and Yale.

Hat-tip: ODPI.

July 3, 2007 at 03:51 PM | Permalink


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I know that there are severe restrictions on the Texas Governor's ability to pardon/commute sentences of death. Might that explain Bush's "failure" in that regard? I'm not an apologist, but the facts would be nice.

Posted by: | Jul 3, 2007 4:46:22 PM

Bush used to mock people seeking clemency. Karla Tucker had been interviewed on Larry King's show and had been asked what she had to say to Governor Bush. Later, Bush was asked how she answered, and he responded: "`Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, `don't kill me.'"

Posted by: David in NY | Jul 3, 2007 4:47:50 PM

Of course, unlike Karla Tucker, Scooter Libby didn't hack anybody to death with an axe...

A whole lot more people prayed for Karla Tucker than ever bothered to pray for Jerry Dean and Deborah Thornton. Tucker has her very own Wikipedia page to keep her memory alive. Not Dean and Thorton, the people she killed.

Posted by: PatHMV | Jul 3, 2007 5:13:27 PM

I am not a lawyer, student, etc., just a blogger. There are lots more fun cases to compare this one to. I know, since I just sublimated my anger into collecting some of them and posting them. There's the guy who was exonerated by DNA testing after spending 12 years in jail for a rape he didn't commit, who was not pardoned by Bush; the guy who was convicted of murder while his lawyer, described as "a drunk who showed up tanked", slept through large chunks of the trial, also not pardoned by Bush; the guy with an incompetent lawyer who was convicted of murder, and who was not pardoned by Bush even though someone else confessed to the murder on tape; the guy whose tested IQ ranged from 58 to 69, and who was consistently shown to be incapable of participating in his own defense, not that anyone told the jury about any of this, also not pardoned by Bush...

I suppose none of these sentences were truly excessive, though. Not compared to Scooter. Not even though the last three I mentioned were executed.

Posted by: hilzoy | Jul 3, 2007 10:56:24 PM

I don't think either of them deserved to have their sentences commuted. If we're gonna compare Libby's case to any other, it should be Victor Rita's. I think Rita should be given a sentence commutation as a matter of due process and equal protection. In fact, the court should do it sua sponte and let the Bush DOJ try to argue why it was improper. Hah.

Posted by: bruce | Jul 4, 2007 10:05:26 PM

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