More or less normal

The Ego-Pardons:

Every president’s pardon list contains some self-serving or controversial picks—think of Clinton’s pardon for Marc Rich, or Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served.

But every other president in American history has chosen some worthy recipients of executive clemency as well, some reformed souls whose cases sang out for pardons. That’s because every other American president has been a more or less normal human being. And normal human beings have some concept of justice.

I don’t think that’s true about the more or less normal human being, actually. Nixon wasn’t normal. Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t all that normal. Lincoln wasn’t. Coolidge wasn’t. Andrew Johnson wasn’t. Kennedy wasn’t. Most are, probably, but there are definitely some outliers.

But Trump, of course, is in a class by himself. There’s not all that normal and then there’s stark staring psychopathic.

Trump is incapable of comprehending abstract virtues like justice. A glance at the list of his pardons so far just screams ME, ME, ME. There’s Arpaio, whose rabid followers Trump aimed to please, and billionaire Conrad Black, convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice, who is a voluble Trump supporter. Dinesh D’Souza and Bernard Kerik also pass the shameless toady test.

What about Alice Marie Johnson, who received a life sentence for a first-time drug offense (and a handful of others whose cases she highlighted)? Yes, that was straight up justice. And it would deserve approbation except for one thing that slides it into the tabloid category: Trump issued the pardons after high-profile lobbying by Kim Kardashian West.

And we can be quite sure he would not have done so at the behest of some do-gooding bleeding-heart prison reform advocate. It’s a Kardashian or nothing, with him.

The only time Trump expands his self-regard to others is, revealingly, when it comes to police and war criminals—a pattern he continued this week. He sees them not as distortions of honor but as “strong” and virtuous. Inevitably, he complains that they are “very badly treated.” He misses the irony.

His only disinterested altruism is directed at mass murderers.

4 Responses to “More or less normal”