Will Obama pardon Clinton and cement his legacy?
President Barack Obama cares deeply about his legacy.
So will he dare pardon Hillary Clinton?
Before there’s any more talk of carving out a chunk of Mt. Rushmore for him, or more talk of statues or temples in his name, there is that Hillary Clinton pardon issue.
Would Obama give his former secretary of state a preemptory get-out-of-jail card before he leaves office and turns the White House over to Donald Trump?
And if he does pardon Clinton, what of all the promises he and his operatives made to the nation, that he would "transcend" the cynical, broken politics of the past?
You’d see that phrase, or others just like it, echoed by hopium-smoking pundits of the left, by Democratic Party operatives posing as analysts on TV, and even woven into the narrative of supposedly neutral news stories.
There was great faith invested in such talk, predicated on the belief that the slogan would become fact. And the old cynicism would be gone.
Is it gone?
Of course, this is speculation. Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been charged with any crime. But lack of charges didn’t stop Republican President Gerald Ford from giving immunity to former Republican President Richard Nixon. And Democrats – presumably Hillary among them – rightly shrieked that it was all so wrong and cynical.
Now they wouldn’t mind if Hillary were allowed to fly to some fantasy island or a mountaintop and stay out of the news so Democrats can focus on the next elections.
A mighty wind would blow, telling us to put the past behind us and look to the future.
That’s what politicians say when they weasel out of something. But if you or I were nailed by the feds, sitting in federal prison making those federal tacos from federal prison commissary Fritos, they wouldn’t much care.
Convicted former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. wants a pardon for himself, and one for his convicted wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, as well as pardons for many others.
In a bizarre, rambling Facebook post the other day, Jackson linked the redemption of crooked politicians to redemption offered by Jesus Christ.
"Truly, Mr. President, with a presidential pardon equally monumental to, and greater in scope than, the Emancipation Proclamation the legacy of Barack Hussein Obama II will be one of faith, hope and love," Jackson wrote.
Yet there were no references to the whispered and jealous determination of Jackson’s father – on a hot TV mic – to "cut out" the president’s male parts soon after Obama’s victory. And redemption remains a mystery to many.
Perhaps one who might deserve if not a pardon, at least some commutation of sentence, would be former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, sentenced to 14 years.
Blago, still in federal prison and largely forgotten, deserved his time. If prosecutors had let the case continue, Jackson Jr. himself might still be inside with him, since it was Jackson who was putting together a chain of businessmen seeking to drop huge donations on Blago so he would appoint Jackson to the Senate seat left vacant by Obama’s ascent.
As Blagojevich sits and Jackson rambles, a few boss Democrats in Illinois roll in cash, leveraging their public offices for great private treasure, and their cheeks are pink and warm.
Back when Obama was campaigning the first time and captivating Americans with beautiful words, telling us that it was time to break from the broken, cynical politics of the past, were they just words?
Were they mere pretty songs crafted by people like David Axelrod and given to a back bencher from the Illinois legislature, a political body steeped in cynicism and the Chicago Way?
Was it all a con game, beginning even before journalists raised champagne toasts and became weepy-eyed at Obama’s election eight years ago?
I assume we’ll find out.
And so will Hillary, and so will Bill, and their minions who propped them up, and the insiders of the multibillion-dollar Clinton Foundation charity, which hauled in gifts from many nations when it was assumed that she would be president.
Now that she’s not president-elect, the liberal hysteria over Trump’s election continues. I suppose they need some kind of 12-step program to lure them back to reality.
But another thing has happened, often overlooked with all that never-ending caterwauling and shrieking of anguish and pain:
Donations to the Clinton Foundation and other family charities dried up. It’s as if those strongmen from questionable nations don’t feel as compelled to donate as they might once have.
Since she’s not going to be president, why donate to the Clinton charities? Insiders buy clout with cash, and such foundations have a way of washing the money clean, so it smells like the hair of a baby after a bath.
But the money isn’t coming in anymore.
And the FBI continues to investigate the foundation, which was stuffed with treasure when Bill was jovially talking about becoming first laddie someday and Hillary was Obama’s secretary of state.
All presidents care very much about their legacies. And when they leave office, Americans build monuments for them. We construct temples of worship that we call presidential libraries, and great Olympian statues and their winged words are carved in granite, as if they were gods.
But deeds are more important than words. And in the matter of Hillary Clinton and pardons, I hope Mr. Obama remembers this.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is @john_kass.