Sully links to this analysis of Bush’s record on executions. Incidentally, this exposes another lie of the Right Wing Echosphere. Bush did have the power to grant clemency.
In general, while I have my doubts about the death penalty, I’m not terribly sympathetic to a lot of the arguments in the article. It’s basically a religious screed about how Karla Fay Tucker repented of murdering two people and how awful it was that Bush didn’t grant her clemency. The line about Tucker’s “beautiful face” is particularly nauseating.
I think the biggest problem with the anti-death-peantly crowd is their tendency to bark up the wrong tree. They tell us about murderers who suffered from abuse and drug addiction — as if humans were behaviorist automatons with no free will. If their argument is valid, it’s an argument in favor of execution — because they are saying that these people can’t help killing. (Incidentally, it’s amazing how often these horrible pasts surface after conviction.)
I’m also not terribly sold on death row conversions. It’s easy to have Jesus in your heart when you’re about to die. It’s a little more difficult when you’re poised over two people about to kill them. It’s also a catch-22. You can’t execute someone who hasn’t repented because they might. You can’t execute someone who has repented because they’re not a murderer anymore.
Besides, if someone truly repented and is right with the Lord, wouldn’t they want justice done to them? Wouldn’t they want the chance to go the heaven before the urges they can’t control because of childhood abuse make them kill again?
Perhaps if Karla Fay Tucker’s victims could have forgiven her, I’d be more sympathetic. But if your argument is that she’s gotten right with the Lord, then he’ll forgive her no matter what is done to her on Earth.
This is also, incidentally, an illustration of the Religious Left in this country. Jailhouse conversions have ceased to be about saving the souls of the condemned and become advocacy.
The best argument against the death penalty, IMHO, is the danger of executing the innocent. There was never any doubt that Tucker was guilty.
However, I will agree that the portrait this paints of President Bush is disturbing. To quote from a document that’s been on my mind recently, it is behaviour totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation. Returning to the religious theme, Bush claims to be a Christian. So what is he going to do if he goes to heaven and God asks him why he executed an innocent man? National Review might buy the “it was Al’s briefing” defense, but God won’t.
I often think about the difficult clemency decisions that face the governors of our nation. To have a human life in your hands is an awesome responsibility. I couldn’t sign a death warrant easily. I would, at the least, want a personal meeting with the defense lawyers to hear their side.
But to regard this, as Bush appears to have, as an inconvenience (and we have plenty of evidence of this, aside from Prejean’s martyrology) is mind-boggling. This is the great moral and spiritual leader of the nation? Pshaaw.