Under the Constitution, a president has full authority to issue pardons to those convicted of federal crimes. You might guess that particularly liberal presidents would issue particularly many pardons, but that doesn't seem to be the case. At least it's not the case with Barack Obama, who, of modern presidents, has been the most parsimonious is granting clemency.
Last week he pardoned 17 people, all for nonviolent offenses. He previously had granted 22 pardons. The next most stingy recent president was George W. Bush, who in eight years pardoned 189 people. Of the 39 people pardoned by Obama, half served no prison time, and the others served on average less than a year.
Obama's record is not good enough, says P. S. Ruckman, Jr. He is a political scientist at a small college in Illinois. His avocation is keeping track of pardons, both at the federal and state level. Since 2008 he has run a blog called Pardon Power.
What interests me here isn't what presidents have or haven't done with respect to the pardoning power. What interests me is Prof. Ruckman. It turns out he's the son of Peter S. Ruckman, a remarkably ascerbic Fundamentalist I debated in 1987.
The elder Ruckman is noted not only for a lack of gentlemanliness in his public talks but for the theory that the King James Version of the Bible is quasi-inspired. In his view, any deviation from that translation is erroneous; only in the KJV can one find the authentic Bible. (As you might suspect, his theory has no traction with Protestants whose native language is German or French, for example.)
At the Wikipedia article about my debate opponent, a footnote refers to his namesake son and says that, at his website, he "provides biographies of his grandfather and great-grandfather but comparatively little information about his father except for a photograph of the rakish young man." I haven't been able to find that information at P. S. Ruckman's website; perhaps the material has been removed.
However that may be, I wonder how he gets along with his eccentric father. The younger man seems to be just a normal college professor (YouTube has television interviews with him). I suspect his theological views, if he has any at all, are quite different from his father's. At least I hope so.