I claim this nodespace early as I'm going to make a prediction here:)

If the death penalty is going to be an issue in George W. Bush's first term, Timothy McVeigh's death will be the reason. McVeigh would be the first federally executed criminal in nearly 40 years. The state's penal systems aren't even gonna get a chance at Tim. If the (ahem) pro-life forces have enough mmph to raise a stink about his execution, the death penalty will become a big issue again.

The death penalty as an issue has hurt some American politicians in the past, see Mike Dukakis, but I can't name anyone in a presidential election it's helped.

I personally don't think it will be a big issue. Death penalty opponents are not about to make this mass murderer a poster boy. Sure, some will vocally protest the death, but I doubt the cry will be much louder than at your normal execution. I am personally of the mind that such protests are wasted breath, and that the only meaningful capital punishment reform will come through the appealing to legislature and/or the courts, when the public attitude is ready. It may be a while, and last-second protests aren't speeding things up. Abolishing the electric chair is within reach, and I think it will happen during Bush's term, even if it comes in the way of phasing them out rather than legislation.

While my belief is that the government should not be putting anyone to death, McVeigh killed 168 people. If any human being deserved the death penalty in America in the last hundred years, it's McVeigh. I wish the decision for death had not been made, but it's a brick-over-the-head obvious one for believers in the death penalty.

George W. Bush has very little to do with this. His opportunity to stop the execution passed a long time ago, and there were absolutely no compelling reasons to do so. What politican is going to stare the families of the victims of this tragedy in the eye and tell them McVeigh is not going to die? It's political suicide, and I think that Bush's administration is merely carrying out that which was ordered during the Clinton years. No hardcore opponents of the death penalty are particularly thrilled to the gills about Bush anyway, so I can't imagine any additional political fallout.

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