The quality of mercy

This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I've been hearing a lot how Steven Spielberg's movie "Lincoln" resonates politically with our times: entrenched opposition and the need for half-loaf compromise to move forward. I agree, but there's one area in which two Illinois citizens, presidents Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, are radically different: mercy.

Obama says he emulates Lincoln, especially in bringing political rivals into his administration. But when it comes to granting pardons, charity-for-all Lincoln beats Obama hands down, as shown in the movie. Consider the number of pardons Obama's granted with the number he's rejected compared to our past five presidents:

• Ronald Reagan: 1 in 8

• George H.W. Bush: 1 in 19

• Bill Clinton: 1 in 16

• George W. Bush: 1 in 55

• Barack Obama: 1 in 290

Thousands of young men and women are wasting away in federal prisons just for possessing small amounts of marijuana. They could be productive, taxpaying, contributing members of society; instead, they're costing the nation millions to construct prisons and to house and feed them.

With all his elections past, it's time for Obama to be a little more like President Reagan, if not Lincoln.

Charles Daniels

Salt Lake City