Gov. Mark Warner commuted the sentence of Robin Lovitt, a convicted killer who stabbed a man to death in a pool hall robbery. Lovitt was to be the 1,000 man executed in the United States by its goverment, both state and federal. It might suprise many, but I have yet to make my mind up yet on the death penalty. My Catholicism prevents my conscience from totally going gung-ho on supporting the death penalty. I often wonder about how its doled out, and I am concerned that the rich (like OJ and Michael Jackson) can buy justice while the poor can't get the same representation. However, I believe that it is a deterrant, and that when used properly, its justified, such as Timothy McVeigh. I don't believe the death penalty should be celebrated, because its the end of a series of tragic events. People's lives are lost, and its all tragic that these lives end in the way they do.
Yet something is fishy in this clemency. The number, the political circumstances, and the successor. I don't think Mark Warner wanted that seminal number 1,000 to be latched on to his state. Virginia has a reputation as a big death penalty state, and perhaps Warner wants to spare his commonwealth from this reputation.
Secondly, Mark Warner is running for president. He is a centrist Democrat running for the nomination of a party dominated by far-left interest groups. Just yesterday, Governor Warner argued that we should not cut and run from Iraq. That was for the center. I can't help that as a red-state Democrat governor who is running in the center, Warner is throwing a bone to the left to prove that he has some liberal bonafides. I just cannot stop holding down the thought that the Guv made this move to help his presidential ambitions.
Lastly, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this was also not a not-so-subtle way to give Tim Kaine some of his 70% approval-rating legitimacy to Kaine's true ambitions of putting a moritorium on the death penalty. I wonder if this is political cover for the successor on the way out the door. Kilgore effectivly boxed Kaine in on this issue, but Warner could give Kaine the cover he needs to start spinning the wheels on this.
On the other hand, Governor Warner could have simply believed the trial unfair and decided that, within his power, he would spare this man's life. Afterall, Kenneth Starr was on Lovitt's defense team. Before I make a final judgement, I want to here from the governor. But its awfully convieniant that a centrist-Democrat running for president in a liberal party who expresses support for the Iraq War would do this and that his succesor has spent a career denouncing the practice but was politcally boxed in runnning in a red state. I am uncomfortable with the thought that under these circumstances, a governor would subvert the will of the twelve jurors that saw the evidence and decided that the man was guilty, knowing full well what the maximum penalty was.