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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

I beg your pardon

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 08:10 am

I caught part of the Pat Miller show on WOWO on the way home last night, and he was talking about Hillary Clinton's email scandals. I realized that it was the first time I'd heard about the topic since the election. Where did that go? I realize that there is less urgency now given that she's not about to occupy the White House, but there are still serious issues here. Her use of a home email server for official business, including classified material, might have compromised national security, and there is every likelihood that she was handling her email that way so she could keep secret that she was putting up the Strate Department, and potentially the White House itself, up for sale to the highest bidder.  For the matter to just be dropped now after it was trotted through Congress a zillion times makes it seem like the whole thing was just political. Yeah, I know, it's Washington, soeverything has political overtones. But it can't be just about politics.The main topic last night was whether President Obama should pardon Clinton before leaving the White House, a preemptive move that would make any further investigation pointless. Miller cited a poll showing Anericans have rather strong opinions about the possibility.

More than two-thirds of registered voters do not want President Obama to pardon Hillary Clinton before he leaves office next month, according to a Fox News poll released Thursday evening.

The poll said 68 percent of respondents who were asked from Dec. 11-13 say the Democratic president should not forgive his former secretary of state for potential crimes she may have committed in connection with the Clinton Foundation or by using a private email server in her residence. Less than one-quarter of voters, 23 percent, want Obama to help the unsuccessful 2016 Democratic nominee before President-elect Trump takes office.

Wow. Donald Trump won the votes of only half the country, but 68 percent of Americans don't want Clinton pardoned? Are we that bloodthirsty?

But it makes more sense when you dig into the poll and discover that even Clinton supporters overwhelmingly do not want Obama to let Clinton off for alleged wrongdoings. For many of them, probably even most, it's because they think she's innocent. Who needs to be pardoned? Guilty people.

Miller had mixed feelings about the possibility of a pardon, and I confess that I do, too. On the one hand, it's important to know the conseqnences of what she did, and people who break the law and/or put the country in danger should be held accountable. But on the other hand, more long, drawn-out hearings would distract a new government from all the things it needs to be concentrating on, and they would keep the bitter divide going in a country that really needs to get it together.

The obvious comparison is to Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal. One of the first acts of Gerald Ford as the new president  was to grant a full pardon to the disgraced former president for any crimes he might have committed during the scandal. It was a risky thing to do, but I think the right thing to help the nation heal. It probably cost him the presidency.

Hillary's case isn't an exact parallel. Back then, the country truly was wounded, and we needed a closure point so we could move on. Today, we're just mad at each other. 

The Weekly Standard, in a giddily mean-spirited article, says that Obama should not pardon Clinton, but that President Trump should, because it would drive here absolutely insane:

If Trump pardons Hillary Clinton, he'll be doing two smart things: First, he'll be putting an end to an investigation that, thanks to BleachBit and the Clinton code of omertà, is almost certain to go nowhere. The Clintons have millions of dollars to take care of Huma Abedin, the IT guys and anyone else who has definitive proof of criminal activity.

And as much as the talk-radio base may not want to admit it, most Americans are in "move on" mode. They're hopeful about the future (the same Fox News poll finds 56 percent of Americans believe the economy will improve under Trump), and they've had enough of the seemingly endless Clinton investigations.

The second benefit of a Clinton pardon is that it gives the grassroots GOP base what it truly wants: A final, incontrovertible verdict of "guilty" for Hillary. Today's pardon will be history's acknowledgement that she's the O.J. Simpson of politics: She's guilty and got away with it.

Actually, they won't find an ally in Trump for that sort of prank, because Hillarygate is one of the many things Trump has softened his stance on. During the campaign, he said he'd put her in jail as president. Now, he says he's not interested in pursuing anything against her, he's got bigger things on his plate.

And that's the best course, really. Nobody pardons her, but there's no high-profile, mugging-for-the-camera inquisition, either. People just need to quietly keep investigating and then, if something is discovered that warrants further action, the matte should be referred to the proper agencies.

And we get on with things.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

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At long last, somebody cares about my problem. The University of Wisconsin Madison is offering a course on "The problem of whiteness."  Such a burden, I tell you.

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