The word “pardon,” as a kind indulgence, as in forgiveness of a slight offense, discourtesy or inconvenience, is well worn. As an excuse, asking for pardon (as in “pardon, me”) is rather commonplace in our everyday lives.
But in law a pardon has a much more dire meaning, as release from the actual penalty of an offense, or a remission of a crime by some authority – be it a governor, president or even the pope. Indeed, this involves forgiveness of a far more serious sort.
This idea of release from penalty originated in the 13th century with the papal indulgences and the Old French “par don” or Latin “perdonare’ to give a remit. Pardons became a big business; they were sold and traded.
Today our presidents can circumvent the justice system by issuing official pardons of their choosing, granting clemency, as it is known. Such acts cannot be altered by Congress, cannot be reviewed, blocked or overturn. The most controversial pardons in U.S. history have included: the whiskey rebels, Brigham Young, confederate soldiers, Eugene Debs, Jimmy Hoffa, Richard Nixon, Patty Hearst and Marc Rich.
Fast forward to the American political scene in the present frame. Candidate Hillary Clinton, the ultimate Washington insider and Democratic Party front-running candidate to be the next president, is both asking for and needs numerous pardons. Will the American people give her a pass? Will the justice system overlook possible criminal violations?
She is saying, “Pardon me for my slightest of mistakes or oversights. I did not mean any harm when, as I told the congressional committee, we were just trying to deal with the complex Benghazi events. I never meant to hurt anyone – not the ambassador, nor the security guards, and certainly not poor Susan Rice, whom I knowingly sent onto the weekend television shows to tell a falsehood to cover my tracks.”
Hillary’s request to be pardoned does not stop there.
“Pardon me for Libya and for the birth of ISIS,” she says, noting that she is not allowed to call it Islamic terrorism, as that would offend many Muslims.
“I never imagined such could flow from the Arab Spring,” Hillary continues. “That was supposed to go, oh so differently. It was always intended to be a democracy movement, wasn’t it?”
“Well, I can always blame it on David Cameron or the Europeans, as President Obama, the anointed One, did recently in The Atlantic magazine,” she pleads. “It wasn’t my fault or his! Besides, it was Bush that started this whole mess. When in doubt I always blame Bush. It’s so easy to have a scapegoat that you almost don’t need to ask for a pardon at all.”
“On Obamacare, remember, I am the original author and chair of the task force that devised the plan ‘Hillarycare,’ as my detractors called it officially the Health Security Act of 1993, during my husband’s presidency. That led to our massive congressional defeat in 1994 and the ‘Contract with America,’ which changed American politics, shifting power in the House of Representatives to the Republicans after a long 40 years in the dark. Thank you, Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey for that disservice.”
Hillary continues, asking for even more pardons.
“Pardon me for not being harder on my predator and sex-addicted husband, Bill, who, as we know from the television drama ‘House of Cards,’ is wedded to me not as a betrothed marriage partner, so much as a political partner,” she argues. “I stood by my man on ‘6o Minutes’ long ago so he could win. Now, he will do the same for me so I can win.”
“I am no feminist, so I guess you will have to excuse all my actions in the war on women,” she reasons. “Really, Bill can’t help himself, as we know from the sordid intern-affair with what’s her name – but I did look the other way to enable him.”
“I ask your pardon as well for an embarrassing defeat in 2008 in the primaries to that black candidate I tried to smear,” she notes. “Even Bill calling Barack a fantasy came to no avail. Look, we did not mean any racial slur. You see, I supported Barack in victory and even served his administration for four years.
“But it is the legal sense of pardon that I now plead, so I can advance to my lifelong dream of capturing the White House,” she concludes.
“Frankly, I need a pardon in that strictest sense from both Attorney General Lynch and from my former boss, President Obama, as soon as possible and certainly before November’s election.
“I need it to get me off the hook for my HUGE violation of U.S. laws regarding the use of a private email server routed through my private residence, violating numerous federal laws, where classified information was compromised,” she insists, expressing determination.
“Just in case the FBI calls for my imminent indictment, I, Hillary Clinton, need to cash in a big IOU with President Obama. Please, pretty please, do pardon me,” she asks, showing real emotion. “I promise, Mr. President, that after this one last pardon, I’ll never need to ask again. After all, once I’m president, I can pardon myself whenever I need to do so.”
Then she paused, having one last thought.
“And when I leave office,” she says, with glee, “I grant my self a future pardon, for any and all crimes and misdemeanors I might commit some time, or any time, in the future. If I’m really clever, I’ll pardon myself into eternity, making it a whole lot easier when finally I encounter St. Peter there, waiting at the Pearly Gates to allow me entry.”