Puerto Rico Will Have Its Revenge

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Before the Potomac Primary, Michael Barone gamed out an interesting scenario for Hillary Clinton's revival: a win in Puerto Rico, which has 63 Democratic delegates elected in June. Hispanic voters (before yesterday) have shown a loyalty to Hillary Clinton, but Puerto Rico… well, there's something else. James Kirchick looks back at the 2000 Clinton pardon of FALN terrorists and how it resonated years later.

This was truly the sleaziest of Clinton's pardons (which is saying something). But it lacked the glitz and intrigue of the Marc Rich pardon, and perhaps for that reason, it is among the less notorious. But the FALN pardon was indisputably the worst. Rich, after all, was just another example of money corrupting politics. The FALN pardon was far worse; it represented nothing less than the surrender of American honor and prestige to terrorists for political gain. Its effect—in the midst of the African embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, Khobar Towers et. al.—was to confirm Osama bin Laden's declaration two years later that the United States was a "weak horse." The U.S. Sentencing Commission, the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Attorney all opposed the pardon. Even the terrorists themselves—who, after all, did not recognize the legal jurisdiction of the United States (the reason why they waged war against it)—did not request the pardon.

How does Hillary fit into all of this? Well, she is the reason—the only reason—that the pardon was ever granted. She had a senate race to win, after all, in a state with over 1 million Spanish-speaking voters. Characteristic of White House thinking at the time was an email sent by an adviser concluding that the pardons would be "fairly easy to accomplish and will have a positive impact among strategic communities in the U.S. (read, voters)."

You don't have to buy into all of Kirchick's assertions to wince at how Bill Clinton used his presidency to create a New York beachhead with tactics like this. But there's a happy ending. As Barone pointed out:

In practice, the dominant figure in Puerto Rico identifying with the Democratic Party has seen to it that his faction gets all the territory's delegates… This means that Puerto Rico is likely to have more leverage in Democratic National Convention votes than any single state, no matter how large. Its leader will be able to deliver a 63-vote margin for the leading candidate.

Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo-Vila is endorsing Obama.

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  1. The 63 delegates currently available in Puerto Rico will go to Senator Obama. The decision of former President Bill Clinton to push for NAFTA will come back to finish his wife aspirations to become the first woman president.

  2. nothing less than the surrender of American honor and prestige to terrorists for political gain

    So that’s where our honor and prestige went!

  3. Funny, Wikipedia’s article on this says that she opposed the pardon.

    Not that I believe Wikipedia, but it’s at the end of the article, a little out of place, and therefore makes me wonder if Clinton staffers are fucking with Wikipedia entries.

  4. How do sleazebags like the Clintons live with themselves? I’m so looking forward to see them go crashing down.

  5. “Not that I believe Wikipedia, but it’s at the end of the article, a little out of place, and therefore makes me wonder if Clinton staffers are fucking with Wikipedia entries.”

    A Clinton interpolation?

  6. Bill Clinton used his presidency to create a New York beachhead with tactics like this.

    Pardoning terrorists gets you political support in NY?

    I thought my state had fucked up Senators.

    Almost makes the twin towers of 9/11 a sort of poetic justice.

  7. Taktix?,

    The Wikipedia article does have a source for the bit about Hillary. In short, she was for the pardons before she was against them. To tell it more fairly, she opposed the pardons in 1999 because the prisoners took too long to accept the condition that they renounce violence.

  8. If Hillary should get past Obama, which I don’t think she will, all these scandals will be brought up by the Republicans. Obama is too nice to bring them up. You can bet if Obama had any skeletons like the Clintons have, Hillary would bring them up. Hillary just has too many skeletons to be elected. Democrats better hope she’s not the nominee.

  9. I suspect that Puerto Ricans will vote differently than they have in the past if their primary actually matters.

  10. The Washington Post debunked Barone’s claim that Puerto Rico will award winner-take-all. It’ll still be interesting to see whether the points made here will factor into the vote, though.

  11. James Kirchick: the most reliable name in scandal

  12. Joe,
    Im not sure if you are aware of this but Puerto Ricans dont vote for the US President.

  13. I suspect that Puerto Ricans will vote differently than they have in the past if their primary actually matters.

    So unlike 2003 when they did not vote for Clinton or Obama this year will be different and they will now vote for Clinton or Obama.

    Wow Joe that is f’ing insightful.

  14. I should clarify, Puerto Ricans living on the island (i.e. not residing in the mainland U.S.) do not vote for the U.S. President.

  15. I should clarify, Puerto Ricans living on the island (i.e. not residing in the mainland U.S.) do not vote for the U.S. President.

    I’m just going to take a stab at this:

    I imagine it is against the law for people from other countries to vote for President. However, since the rules for the primary are determined by the party, they could have a primary in Iran if they wanted to.

    I’m guessing the GOP doesn’t have a Puerto Rico primary, and the nomination is usually locked up by the Democratic primary.

    Anyone actually know this?

  16. “Joe,
    Im not sure if you are aware of this but Puerto Ricans dont vote for the US President.”

    They do in the Democrat primaries.

  17. Puerto Ricans vote in both the Democrat and Republican primaries, but not in the presidential elections.

    Also, at least when I was there, you could vote in BOTH Democrat and Republican primaries. No need to register as Republican or Democrat, because Puerto Rico has its OWN political parties, the main ones being the PNP (New Progressive Party, generally backing statehood), PDP (Popular Democratic Party, generally backing the status quo) and PIP,(Puerto Rican Indenpendence Party) which favored independence.

  18. rana,

    I know for a fact that you are not aware that Puerto Rico hold primaries, and selects delegates to the conventions.

    corning,

    There wasn’t an election in 2003, Einstein.

    Please, more people “correcting” me. This is fun.

  19. atrevete,

    I was in DC in the early 90s, when the referendum on P.R.’s status was held. 49$ for statehood, 49% for status quo, 2% for independence. Conress held hearings on what to do.

    PDP Functionary: A majority of Puerto Ricans voted against statehood.

    PRP Funtionary: A majority of Puerto Ricans voted for change.

    Congress: Get the *%#@ out of here with this %#^#!

  20. rana,

    I know for a fact that you are not aware that Puerto Rico hold primaries, and selects delegates to the conventions.

    joe, As a matter of fact I do know about Puerto Rican politics. I lived there for many years.
    I thought you were referring to the Presidential elections. But I misunderstood. Mia Culpa.

  21. OK, honest mistake.

  22. There wasn’t an election in 2003, Einstein.

    OOOOOOHHHH burn you got me on a typo.

    You asswipeness expands to new lows.

  23. So if Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote for President, then why do they have a primary at all?

  24. Puerto Rico’s Governor endosing Obama…. This is not good news for Obama. I live in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and Gov. Anibal Acevedo is currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice. A grand jury is reviewing his case and he’s probably going to jail very soon. In a different case, Governor Acevedo received $20,000 in campaign funds on his personal bank account and when he was told to repay that money he used funds from his party to return the money instead of paying the money he received in his bank account. Obama should have made his homework first before asking Anibal to endorse him. After Gov. Acevedo Vila’s endorsement, I can say that Puerto Rico is not going to vote for Obama just because we don’t like the Governor.

    More information on who is Anibal Acevedo Vila:

    http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2007Jun27/0,4675,PuertoRicoGovernorInvestigation,00.html

  25. Juan,

    I hear they call him Gov. AniMal Acevedo. Is that true?
    I still have a few close friends in PR and none of them like (may even hate) Acevedo.

  26. So if Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote for President, then why do they have a primary at all?

    Children aren’t allowed to vote in general elections in Canada, but that didn’t stop the Progressive Conservatives from having some serve as delegates. You don’t have to be eligible to vote in general elections in the USA to be a voting member of the Libertarian Party. Etc.

    Even Guam has a presidential primary.

    After Gov. Acevedo Vila’s endorsement, I can say that Puerto Rico is not going to vote for Obama just because we don’t like the Governor.

    See above. They’re not going to vote for anybody for POTUS.

  27. The Repiblican Party of Puerto Rico is having its delegate delection convention on February 28th.

  28. To clarify:
    Hillary Clinton DID oppose the pardon of the FALN prisioners. She opposed it because she WAS AFRAID the pardon would hurt her chances to run for President!! (Get your facts straight).
    Second, the pardon was very popular in Puerto Rico, and was supported by all parties.
    Third: The GOP does have a primary in Puerto
    Rico, also, not just the Democrats.

  29. Obama supporters are now stuck on music videos and fluffy rhetoric. They are also proving themselves to be VIRULENT in their ideologies against those who oppose them. What has Obama done for Puerto Rico? Even as a Senator he hasn’t done much for US. Furthermore, he is endorsed by jailbird Acevedo who is not even backed by the populace anymore BECAUSE of his cabinet’s corruption. Acevedo is possibly the worst governor Puerto Rico has EVER had. The Clintons were the ones who showed themselves with us, especially Vieques and pardoning our revolutionaries. I do not want a female president or even a black president. I want a PRESIDENT. So, whether you believe Obama is the one, that’s OK… I don’t and that is OK, too.

  30. Just to clarify, even though I know alot of you are aware already, it seems it’s gone unsaid.

    Puertoricans are all US citizens, entitled to the same rights and privelages as anyone born in the 50 states. As such, the two parties saw it fit to give them delegates to the convention to select the nominees.

    However, if you live on the island itself, you don’t have any representation in the electoral college, therefore you don’t vote for POTUS. If you happen to move somewhere else and have residency, you can then vote in the national elections.

    Thought that might help.

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