East of Houston, Baytown residents are looking over their shoulders tonight as a repeat rapist and child molester runs free, possibly in their town. Meanwhile, most of a continent away, Seattle residents are likewise afraid after 4 police officers were gunned down by Maurice Clemmons in a coffee shop in that city. Not a good day for law enforcement, nor to be a resident of either city today.
After leaving Huntsville, Texas, Arcade Comeaux, who’d been in a wheelchair for some years, managed to pull a gun on prison guards while in transit and escape in Baytown. Local law enforcement, masters of the non sequitur, had this to say about their duped my Comeaux:
“Comeaux was in a wheelchair, which he claimed was necessary for his mobility,” [TDCJ spokeswoman Michelle] Lyons said. “Since he was able to flee on foot, his claims of limited mobility obviously are in question.”
Obviously. It’s unclear how long or how frequently Comeaux, twice convicted of aggravated sexual assault, once with a child, has been confined to the wheelchair; however, he was using it as far back as 1999 when he tried to murder his wife during a prison visit.
In Seattle, Maurice Clemmons, who has a previous murder conviction in Arkansas, allegedly told associates to watch the news because he was going out to kill some cops. Unfortunately he succeeded, although it is now thought that he may have been wounded in the process.
This writer has only sympathy for the murdered police officers. It’s easy to understand how a cold-blooded killer could get the drop on them in an off-duty situation. What’s not so easy to understand is how Clemmons, a sociopath with a long history of violence, was allowed to roam the streets after serving only 11 years for his first murder.
Former Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee knows the answer to that riddle. As well he should – then-governor of Arkansas, Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ sentence for the murder in 1990 and allowed him to go free. Huckabee admitted as much today, expressing regret for his decisions and respect for the slain officers. He added this about Clemmons’ history in his state:
He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him.
Last year I endorsed Huckabee for the Republican nomination for the highest office in the land. Today Huckabee faces his Willie Horton moment, one that will in all likelihood end his political career. While it took, in Huckabee’s words, a series of errors to allow Clemmons the opportunity to kill the 4 Seattle officers, the former governor’s mistake, that of excessive mercy, was the first and most egregious violation of the public trust in that chain of mistakes.
You see, there is a profound difference between a botched prison transfer that allows an animalistic brute like Arcade Comeaux to escape through force of arms and that of a public policy decision that deliberately sets violent criminals free to kill again, as Maurice Clemmons has done. That difference is, of course, that Governor Huckabee, the highest official in his state, should have known better than to substitute his judgment for that of the men and women of the juries that sentenced Clemmons to decades in prison for his crimes. Prison guards can be bribed or hoodwinked; at their level of responsibility, perfection is not possible. But we expect more from our leaders, of which Huckabee was one.
And in the aftermath of the debacle Mike Huckabee helped to create through his excessive charity to Maurice Clemmons we see the ultimate justification for politicians to be tough on crime. It should now be obvious that our leaders’ support for law enforcement and long sentences for violent, repeat offenders is not just a set of slogans to be trotted out during their campaigns for office. Rather, it is a recognition of the highest form of public trust, that of our physical security.
There are those politicians and social justice advocates, primarily liberals, who have gone on record saying that harsh prison sentences for murderers are the result of both explicit and implicit racism, that enforcing the law is inherently unfair to African-Americans, and that the higher-than-average representation of blacks serving life sentences and on death row is proof of a racially-flawed justice system.
Yet 4 police officers are dead as a result of Huckabee’s overly liberal policy of reducing prison sentences for murderers he was responsible for keeping behind bars. That fact cannot be obfuscated by the faux intellectualism of criminal apologists. Would-be leaders who espouse these misbegotten value systems should be remembered on election day and removed from office.
In the final analysis, law-abiding citizens do not seek to prosecute or incarcerate men of any class, creed, or color because of their appearance. Rather, it is the actions of such brutes that bring upon them the condemnation of society and rightly so. Our laws are clearly defined and the penalties for breaking them should be applied with equal precision.