Friday, May 13, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Media star Huckabee

Rep. Ron Paul and former Speaker Newt Gingrich are in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is the frontrunner, will make an announcement tonight about his presidential plans.

Speculation is that Huckabee will not run. He is a popular television personality who is making a lot of money at Fox News and marketing books and instructional videos for children. It’s a media empire that he cannot afford to give up, especially with two big mortgages and a large extended family to support.

Also weighing on his decision whether to run is his terrible record of commuting the sentences of scores of violent criminals while he was governor.

Although his clemencies, commutations and pardons were an issue in the 2008 presidential race, his most notorious parolee, Maurice Clemmons, didn’t make national headlines until 2009, when he murdered four Seattle police officers and then killed himself before he could be arrested.

Contrast Huckabee’s record with Gov. Beebe, who has commuted the sentence of just one violent criminal since he took office in 2007. He usually pardons hot-check artists, pot dealers and jaywalkers (just kidding about the last one).

Huckabee had commuted the sentences of hundreds of violent offenders, many of whom got into trouble again. Prosecutors were outraged and mounted a publicity campaign that finally forced Huckabee to stop, but not before he set a record for commutations.

Huckabee had planned to release several killers, including Glen Green, who kidnapped an Air Force sergeant and tortured and murdered her on Graham Road near Jacksonville. It was only after a public outcry — and a crusade in this newspaper — that Huckabee decided not to free Green.

Then there’s the notorious case of Wayne Dumond, the east Arkansas rapist who got out of prison because of Huckabee’s intervention. Dumond later raped and killed two Missouri women and died there in prison.

Mitt Romney brought up Huckabee’s commutations in the last presidential contest. Romney has also portrayed Huckabee as a big spender while he was governor. Maybe Huckabee had hoped that was all ancient history, but he or his advisers must know better: Apart from having to answer his opponents and a critical media, there are the victims’ families who would not remain silent if he ran for president.

Huckabee will likely stay out of the presidential contest. Life is good, and so is the money. Why give that up for a slugfest in 2012? It’s live from New York...