All for one, and one only for himself...

You may remember the term carte blanche from reading The Three Muskateers. Cardinal Richeleau issued a carte blanche to Milady de Winter. It read only, "By my word and for the good of the state, the bearer has done what has been done." This gave her unlimited power to do anything, break any law, without any consequences to herself. She was, effectively, above the law.

Of course, such a thing can, and did, backfire. When the carte blanche fell into the hands of D'Artagnion, he used it to justify Milady's execution.

The term has been used in other situations, always implying an offer for the recipient to write their own rules. It has been sent across battlefields as an offer of unconditional surrender. Sold by monarchs, or given as a favor, to their favorite courtiers. Or used as a bribe in exchange for aid. In the more recent past there was even a credit card called Carte Blanche.

Carte blanche as an assigned power has long been a relic of the past. To see it used in our own times could be called an anachronism in that it doesn't belong here. We are, after all, a nation of laws.

We now have a president who appears to dangle a carte blanche in front of his courtiers ahead of any action, in the form of a Presidential pardon. Do what needs to be done to protect (or enrich) me, and I will save you from the consequences of the law.

Presidential pardons have seen their own fair share of criticism. Ford's pardon of Nixon was controversial, as was Reagan's pardon of Casper Weinberger and Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich. But none were offered before the act was committed. Therein lies the danger.

Is a return to feudalism in our future?