On his first day in office, the new Democratic President should pardon George W. Bush.
I know, it galls me too. The number of crimes this administration is implicated in boggles the mind, and it is infuriating that they will likely go unpunished. But let's be serious here -- there is a precisely 0% chance that President Bush, or any top member of the Bush administration, will ever be prosecuted for anything. It would look partisan, it would look retaliatory, and it would end up being awful politics.
So why a pardon? Simple: you don't pardon people who haven't done anything wrong. The very act of pardoning Bush establishes him as someone who needed a pardon. Pardons damage the reputation of their recipients -- it's not like Nixon's pardon convinced Americans that he really just got a bad rap (even just-defeated Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's spate of pardons, which he cast as protecting the targets from illegitimate prosecution, made both him and them look much worse than they were before). Meanwhile,
It is important to establish Bush's historical legacy as someone who ran one of the most corrupt, extra-legal administrations in the history of the nation. Prosecution would be the most direct route, but that's not going to happen. Counter-intuitive as it is, issuing a pardon would permanently enshrine Bush in that rarefied class of Presidents who needed a pardon -- and that would likely secure his legacy almost as well as (politically contested) indictment.
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