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Three cheers for state-imposed death!

Political applause lines are a dime a dozen. We hear what seems like thousands of them during State of the Union addresses. And in recent years they've been creeping into presidential debates. Usually they're little more than safe affirmations of America's superiority, or assurances of coming prosperity. But I can't recall seeing a debate moment quite like this--and occasioned by a question put to a candidate--which occurred during last night's presidential address on jobs GOP debate:

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I can't believe this yahoo [Perry] will last as a candidate for 4 months.

I'm with Ed Gleason, above, but I think the applause at Perry's answer was in direct response to the previous applause given at the very asking of the question. I can appreciate Perry's precise articulation of the law even if I also happen to believe the law ought to be changed.

Death is never an occasion for celebration, especially state-imposed death, even for those who have done great evil. So it was extremely disturbing to see so many people cheering for state-imposed death of Osama bin Laden, as well as the shot in the head of the Somali pirate that was expressly approved by President Obama.

Just more lunacy on the right.

I thought my wife was kidding when she told me about that this morning. And just a little while ago I got an email urging me to vote for the pro-life Republicans. Sigh.

At first I thought that the applause was a response to the boldness of Brian Williams question. But when I revisited the event, I think that it was an approval of the death penalty.It seems to me that Rick Perry understood the applause that way when he responded to the follow-up question about whether he was surprised by the rapturous applause. Mr. Perry said: "I think Americans understand justice."

I saw this clip just after having listened to the audio clips from 9/11 posted at the NY Times. Somehow, I was made to think of the cheering in the "Arab streets" upon the news of the 9/11 attacks. There seemed to be little difference--apart from the fact that no one in the debate audience was firing a gun. But seriously, is this what we have become?Oh, and Bender: Please just go ahead and say it: "It takes one to know one."

Must be Flash - can't see it on the iPod.

Try it now, David.

I am saddened. Clapping at death? Maybe we do need a real day of prayer and fasting - in the face of such hardness of heart.

The death penalty is quite popular in the US, and always has been. Really, supporting the death penalty is the 'mainstream' American position. Those of us who oppose the death penalty are the extremists, I suppose.

"Death is never an occasion for celebration, especially state-imposed death, even for those who have done great evil. So it was extremely disturbing to see so many people cheering for state-imposed death of Osama bin Laden, as well as the shot in the head of the Somali pirate that was expressly approved by President Obama."It's true. The Right is entirely bi-partisan when it comes to supporting executions.

It's important to remember that the death penalty is (or ought to be) an issue for Perry not just because Texas resorts to it so often, but because he is known to have overseen the execution of at least one person who was very likely wrongfully convicted. And then he interfered with the inquiry into that decision. That's the context in which his "Americans understand justice" remark should be read -- and certainly his boilerplate about "The state of Texas has a very clear process..." etc. You can point to that process as reason for your confidence, OR you can interfere with that process to prevent your confidence ever being called into question. But you can't have it both ways.Also: as I noted in a post here two years ago, his opponent in the gubernatorial race at that time tried to use the killed-an-innocent-man revelation to attack him from the right, by expressing concern that such an abuse of power might make the death penalty look bad. And we can't have that!

Jim Pauwels:Yep, 34 out of 50 states have the death penalty/

"There seemed to be little difference"Mark--Your comment implies that the 3,000 people killed in terrorist attacks on 9/11 are analogous to convicted murderers. I'm sure you did not mean it that way, but the timing of the remark is most unfortunate.

It appears you did not hear the applause during President Obama's common ground abortion debate.

Grant Gallicho 09/08/2011 - 4:29 pm :

Try it now, David.

Yep - now it's there. Thanks!

It seems to me that the governor was just giving a good average-guy answer. That's apparently who he is - an average-guy candidate. Average guys are his constituency. How could he not support them?We often forget how different the opinions of the "educated classes" in the West are from those of much of the world. I'd guess even the Western educated classes of fifty or a hundred years ago would, for the most part, have supported capital punishment.We change our outlooks on a dime and expect everyone immediately to fall in line. That's historically ignorant, culturally insensitive, and unrealistic. But we do it anyway.

Certainly the last person we need in the presidential office is someone who is educated.

David Smith:Sorry I cannot support an "good average-guy" who does not lose sleep if he had condemned an innocent person to death.

Correction:David Smith:Sorry I cannot support an good average-guy who does not lose sleep OVER THE THOUGHT THAT HE MIGHT HAVE condemned an innocent person to death.

Regarding Mollie's very pertinent intervention above: it reminds me that the reason that we haven't executed anyone in Illinois for the last ten years or so is not because of widespread, principled objections to the very notion of putting a brother or sister to death, but because the processes we've built that lead to a prisoner's condemnation and execution are so prone to error and manipulation that we no longer have sufficient confidence that the people on death row are actually guilty of the crimes of which they've been convicted.(And now the local prosecuting attorneys, who bear a large share of responsibility for the slew of wrongful convictions that led to the suspension of the death penalty in Illinois, are waging a pretty successful legal war against the Innocence Project, which perhaps more than any other entity can claim credit for suspending the death penalty in Illinois. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/business/media/18protess.html?pagewant...)Without wishing to exonerate Perry of any malfeasance on his part in Texas, I just want to observe that, in my view, the root cause of the problem is at the local, grassroots level. Convicted criminals are condemned to death, not by the governor, but because local district attorneys - who are also elected officials in most states - request the death sentence, and local judges or juries acquiesce. That is what causes the boulder to start rolling down the hill. The rock will continue to roll all the way to the bottom unless someone intervenes to stop it. It is true that there are avenues of appeal, and governors do have the right to commute death penalties, but it is difficult to fault Perry, who doesn't have a principled objection to the death penalty, for abiding by his principles. I assume 245 people have been executed during Perry's governorship because most Texans think that's dandy. Blame Perry for whatever he's done that he shouldn't have in regard to the death penalty, but mostly blame Texas.

"I assume 245 people have been executed during Perrys governorship because most Texans think thats dandy."I believe that number is probably too low. When then-Senator Joe Biden in 1994 reinstated the federal death penalty and provided for its largest expansion in history with Title VI of his crime bill, several people whose crimes were committed in Texas were subsequently executed out of state in a special federal execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana (built in 1999, I believe, but I could be off by a year or two). I know at least Juan Raul Garza and Louis Jones, Jr. whose crimes were committed in Texas were executed in Indiana under the Biden Crime Bill and there are at least a half-dozen others awaiting execution in Terre Haute under Biden's Federal Death Penalty Act for crimes committed in Texas who should be credited to Gov. Perry.

Hi, MAT, but I assume those who have been executed or are awaiting execution in Terre Haute are being executed under the auspices of the federal judicial system, rather than those of the State of Texas? Would the governor of Texas have any standing to intervene in a federal criminal trial or federal appeal?

"Hi, MAT, but I assume those who have been executed or are awaiting execution in Terre Haute are being executed under the auspices of the federal judicial system, rather than those of the State of Texas? Would the governor of Texas have any standing to intervene in a federal criminal trial or federal appeal?"Yes, the cases in question were tried in federal court. I am not sure what you mean by "intervene" but if you are referring to clemency, only the President either has, or had, pardon power over these convicts. Given that were it not for the Biden Federal Death Penalty Act these convicts would have been executed in Texas under state law, I think it is good to credit them to Gov. Perry, especially since it benefits all parties to do so. (As an aside, I believe a some of Jones' crimes may have taken place on federal lands which would complicate the foregoing but I do not recall a significant proportion the facts there).

Thanks you Mike Danielson - still no response to your post of 9/8, at 8:23pm.

The question was clearly intended to get to the human aspect of governance and how a candidate handles the responsibility. It is intended to evaluate the sobriety and temperament of a candidate. It is very rare that anyone has the opportunity to spare a life or take it (for whatever reason). It is simply not fathomable how such a thing would not give a leader pause. It has to be the most difficult aspect of the role. Violence and the death of anyone prematurely and by someone else's hand whether an assailant or state is tragic and sad. Irrespective of personal feelings a leader has to follow the constitution and respect the system in place while seeking also to change it where possible. Being part of a mob clamouring for the death penalty and being the person responsible for executing the decision are two different things. I was no evidence of someone who is able to consider both sides of an issue. Yes you need to come down on one but this surely must be difficult. That it isn't for him is astounding.I think that Perry revealed a faux machoism (at best) but if that reflects his true attitude it is truly scary.So long compassionate conservatism, hello radical individualism, simplistic lets get tough on crime without examining criminology and who actually is charged - by and large at least in my community the large percentage are socially disadvantaged people. Poor, lower education levels, addictions. This guy seems to have no clue of who is actually in the criminal justice system. And he is responsible for decisions!!! Ugh. Maybe Texas should secede from the US!!! On the bright side, he is a dream come true for Obama. Heck Obama does not even have to add a negative add - just play his speeches!!!