Mike Huckabee Critics: Maurice Clemmons Is Not a Winning Issue

There are a lot of reasons to dislike Mike Huckabee. Hell, just on one issue alone (homosexuality) the evangelical former governor of Arkansas holds a straight flush's worth of repugnant beliefs -- he says allowing gay marriage would be tantamount to legalizing incest and thinks two men in a relationship is "icky."

But of all Huckabee's failings, commuting the sentence of Lakewood cop-killer Maurice Clemmons is not one of them.

Maurice Clemmons should not be the reason Huckabee doesn't run for president. There are other, better, reasons for that.
I first made this point in December, roughly a week after Clemmons murdered four cops while they were having their morning coffee. Then the consensus was that Huckabee was to blame, and both liberal and conservative foes alike were hopefully proclaiming it his "Willie Horton moment."

The political football that is Clemmons' commutation got shelved for a few months. But now it's back in play thanks to this New Yorker profile, within which Huckabee defends his decision.

"When I looked at his case, I looked at a twenty-seven-year-old put away for a non-weapon burglary and an aggravated robbery. He had a sentence of a hundred and eight years," Huckabee said. "People had murdered and gone to prison sentenced to less time than he had served; it made no sense. He was black, he was poor, he had a lousy defense attorney. It was a classic example of what can happen and the reason you empower governors to have clemency." It's a decision that would make a perfect weapon for his competitors in a Republican primary. "But do we really want people who only make decisions in their political lives that are in their own best interest?" he asked. "Frankly, I'm afraid that we might. The truth is, it could be the kind of thing that would keep me from ever being able to run."
The Clemmons case alone probably won't keep Huckabee from running for president in 2012. But it will almost certainly be used against him.

It makes for a good soundbite. Cue ominous voiceover: He granted clemency to a man who would go on to murder four police officers.

But Huckabee isn't to blame for Clemmons' actions. That fault rests with the man who pulled the trigger. And, to only slightly lesser of an extent, the judges and broken bail system that failed to recognize a time bomb taking its final ticks.

Not that this will stop some possible presidential opponents (*cough*Sarah Palin*cough*) from cynically using the Clemmons case for political ammunition. But it should.

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