Tough talkin,' bible thumpin,' obesity trumpin' former presidential laughingstock Mike Huckabee might be having some second thoughts about commuting Maurice Clemmons' life sentence way back when he was still the rotund governor of Arkansas. But that doesn't mean it's Huck's fault the psycho went off and massacred four police officers while they unassumingly sipped lattes in a coffeehouse in Washington state.
Of course, Huckabee is the reason that Maurice Clemmons, once sentenced to 100 years in an Arkansas prison for a series of burglaries, ended up a free man and the now armed and dangerous prime suspect in the grisly execution-style murders of four Seattle police officers.
By the time then-governor Huckabee was considering a plea for clemency in 2000, Clemmons had already spent a decade behind bars, and vowed he was a changed man. And since Huckabee granted more pardons and commutations than most other governors (being the devout Baptist minister that he is), Clemmons figured why not stress his new-found faith in Jesus Christ in his letter to Huckabee:
Clemmons said he came from "a very good Christian family" and "was raised much better than my actions speak (I'm still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought to my family name.)," he wrote.
"Where once stood a young (16) year old misguided fool, who's (sic) own life he was unable to rule. Now stands a 27 year old man, who has learned through 'the school of hard knocks' to appreciate and respect the rights of others. And who has in the midst of the harsh reality of prison life developed the necessary skills to stand along (sic) and not follow a multitude of do evil, as I did as a 16 year old child."
Clemmons added that his mother had recently died without seeing him turn his life around and that he prayed Huckabee would show compassion by releasing him.
So despite the protests of prosecutors, Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence to 47 years in May 2000, citing his youth at the time of his crimes and severity of the punishment. The board granted parole in July and Clemmons was released in August, but found himself off the Jesus wagon and back in the slammer for another Arkansas robbery one year later.
Although he received a 10-year sentence, Clemmons was paroled again in 2004 and soon moved to Washington State, where he managed to avoid run-ins with the police until earlier this year when he once again ran afoul of the law, this time on second-degree child rape charges.
A week before Sunday's mass murder, Clemmons was released on $150,000 bail, despite evidence in the rape investigation trial revealing an increasingly troubled man who "thought he could fly and that President Obama would visit to confirm that he is the Messiah in the flesh."
While hindsight is always 20/20, with plenty of blame to go around regarding Clemmons' questionable path through the criminal justice system, "everything that came after, including Clemmons' speedy release, flows from [Huckabee's] decision," Arkansas Times' Max Brantley points out.
Huckabee meanwhile has sought to place responsibility on his favorite scapegoat for parolees-gone-wild: the parole board, despite appointing the members himself and holding ultimate authority over them. But such things are incidental to ol' Mike. Why get hung up on such trivial details?
Then again this isn't the first time Huck has tried to pass the buck to the board when a parolee he pardons decides to burgle, rape or kill after tasting the sweet nectar of freedom.
Let us not forget the case of Wayne DuMond--the man whose release Huckabee also helped broker before he went on to kill at least one woman in Missouri--which became a real thorn-in-the-side for ol' Huck's 2008 Republican presidential aspirations, outside of the very meaningful Iowa Straw Poll of course.
Naturally Huckabee will be doing the talk-show rounds to explain how if Clemmons is found responsible, "it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State."
Not anything to do with him or his excellent decision-making abilities and enlightened views.
Like advocating the isolation of AIDS patients until as late as 2007, helping rid Devil science like evolution from schools, and of course showing mercy and compassion to violent, mentally unstable repeat offenders.
But hell, as long as they're not homosexuals!