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Gerald Ford Passes Away
December 26, 2006 9:01 PM   Subscribe

MSNBC and NBC News is reporting that former President Gerald Ford has died at age 93.
posted by barrista (258 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
President Ford helped put integrity back into the presidency after the Resignation of Richard Nixon. Though his presidency was short lived, he is an important figure in history.
posted by barrista at 9:02 PM on December 26, 2006


Didn't he pardon Nixon? No "." for him.
posted by rbs at 9:02 PM on December 26, 2006


I wonder if his epitaph will read: He pardoned Nixon

(in his favor, he was very moderate for a Republican)

.
posted by amberglow at 9:03 PM on December 26, 2006


CNN already is revising history--they just said that he was placed in Agnew's Veep slot because the Democratic Congress of the time would never have impeached had Agnew still been there because Agnew was so polarizing. We'll be hearing much more revisionist shit for at least a week.
posted by amberglow at 9:06 PM on December 26, 2006


Maybe this is too flip for an obituary thread, but there was a greatly funny SNL skit once about this.

He was delicious.

.
posted by clockzero at 9:07 PM on December 26, 2006


I heard that his last words were "pardon me."
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:08 PM on December 26, 2006


More info on Gerald Ford. His pardon of Richard Nixon cost him a chance to be an elected president. His rationale for doing so was not one of self-interest, but in what he felt was in the best interest of the country. That's a far cry from our current political environment.
posted by barrista at 9:08 PM on December 26, 2006


President Gerald Ford, Godfather of Soul.

.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:08 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ford's pardon speech: ...Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from July (January) 20, 1969, through August 9, 1974. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:10 PM on December 26, 2006


Who died?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:10 PM on December 26, 2006


I don't really remember much about him except that he allegedly told my city to "drop dead" in the 1970's. heh. Anyway...

.
posted by hojoki at 9:11 PM on December 26, 2006


". . .because Agnew was so polarizing."

Oh, I wonder why. . .
posted by j-urb at 9:11 PM on December 26, 2006


On this topic, a great SNL skit with Dana Carvey.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:12 PM on December 26, 2006


barrista, i think "what he felt" are the operative words there. We're now experiencing lawbreaking on a scale that surpasses Nixon's (which would have been hard to believe just 6 years ago), and because of Ford's action and the lack of accountability and punishment then, have set this president up for a pardon now.

We are a nation of laws, and the law was not allowed to run its course.
posted by amberglow at 9:13 PM on December 26, 2006


To suggest that he pardoned RN as part of some kind of cabal is lunacy. He sure as hell didn't do it to help his own career. If I had to guess, I would suggest that he was embarrassed for us, for having elected such an insane paranoiac.

yeah, yeah, tinc.
posted by popechunk at 9:14 PM on December 26, 2006


Jerrrrrryyyy!!!
posted by Iron Rat at 9:15 PM on December 26, 2006


hojoki
posted by amberglow at 9:15 PM on December 26, 2006


WIN
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:18 PM on December 26, 2006


oh yeah--those buttons!

and don't forget Squeaky Fromme.
posted by amberglow at 9:18 PM on December 26, 2006


Although..........although.......maybe it would have done the country some demonstrable good if it was well known that you could be sent to jail for being a towering asshole, even if you were the president.
posted by popechunk at 9:19 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sure seemed to be a genuinely good man and honest President. I understand why he pardoned President Nixon; if he had not done so, the nation would have remained frozen in time for too long, and allowed our enemies to perceive weakness. His brief tenure as Commander In Chief was a necessary and welcome transition from the Nixon years to everything that followed. He was good for America.
posted by davidmsc at 9:20 PM on December 26, 2006


(what a reminder of Nixon just when Bush doesn't need one. We have Cheney in the Agnew spot, too--fitting.)
posted by amberglow at 9:20 PM on December 26, 2006


if Betty starts drinking again because of this, I'm glad there's somewhere she can go. Man, I can't help myself.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:21 PM on December 26, 2006


Did anybody hate Ford? That's quite an accomplishment for an American president, if not.

So there's a slightly better epitaph than 'he pardoned Nixon' : not too many people hated him.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:23 PM on December 26, 2006


Chevy Chase is dead?!?
posted by papakwanz at 9:25 PM on December 26, 2006


amberglow, thanks a million for the link to the Daily News covers. Wow, it's all coming back to me now - I kinda didn't like that man back then.

May he rest in peace anyway.
posted by hojoki at 9:26 PM on December 26, 2006


Did anybody hate Ford?
All of NYC, but most just mocked and felt pity for him--and i'm sure the majority of the country was against the pardon--he really was the equivalent of the nobodies who sit in the seats when celebrities go to the bathroom during the Oscars.
posted by amberglow at 9:28 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ford never told NYC to "Drop Dead". That imaginative headline was written by NY Daily News Managing Editor Bill Brink.
posted by flatlander at 9:30 PM on December 26, 2006


1974 polls: 73% say Nixon should not have been pardoned without full explanation of his role in Watergate. 60% disapprove Ford's pardon of Nixon.
posted by amberglow at 9:30 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Chevy Chase is dead?!?

This is the Ford thread. Chevys are in the lot across the street.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:32 PM on December 26, 2006


Time mag on Nixon and Ford's negotiations and agreement to pardon: The Pardon That Brought No Peace--...The President assigned him to travel to San Clemente last Thursday and show Nixon a preliminary draft of a Ford statement granting a pardon.

Becker was also assigned to complete the negotiations between the White House and Nixon for an agreement granting the Watergate prosecutors—and presumably other lawyers—the right to examine his tapes and presidential papers for use in future cases. White House Counsel Fred Buzhardt had insisted that these records belong to Nixon and proposed shipping them forthwith to San Clemente; that prompted Ford to fire Buzhardt.

On Friday Nixon signed an agreement. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:33 PM on December 26, 2006


and from there: ...The issue is not whether Nixon has suffered enough. Indisputably, he has suffered, but so have countless other people who have committed wrongdoings —and they have not been exempted from prosecution. Nixon will be free and well pensioned, while those who took his orders are jailed and broken.

The real question is whether justice —and the country—have been served by giving Nixon a pardon. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:36 PM on December 26, 2006


Any idea when or if the stock market will be closed as a result?
posted by brent at 9:37 PM on December 26, 2006


My Gerald Ford action figure gets to be on my desk for today.
posted by abcde at 9:43 PM on December 26, 2006


All of NYC, but most just mocked and felt pity for him--and i'm sure the majority of the country was against the pardon--he really was the equivalent of the nobodies who sit in the seats when celebrities go to the bathroom during the Oscars.

This is unworthy of you. He was a respected congressman and did his best in a situation he never anticipated he would be in, nor aspired to.

His administration and career was about far more than Nixon's pardon (leaving Vietnam, visting China, SALT, partial amnesty for draft dodgers, Helsinki Watch) but if you can't see beyond that and feel the need to insult him, maybe you should stay out of a thread about his death.
posted by loquax at 9:44 PM on December 26, 2006


.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:44 PM on December 26, 2006


you people who are still grinding your axes against him for the nixon pardon need to get professional help.

.
posted by bruce at 9:45 PM on December 26, 2006


I understand why he pardoned President Nixon; if he had not done so, the nation would have remained frozen in time for too long, and allowed our enemies to perceive weakness.

...because Nixon held the Seven Crystal Keys of Time and the Obfuscating Shield of Unseen Strength (+2) and refused to give them up until he got a pardon.... Ford saved us from the untold horror of a Red Invasion™! ALL PRAISE UNTO HIM!
...or not.
posted by eparchos at 9:48 PM on December 26, 2006 [2 favorites]


How can they tell?
posted by squalor at 9:49 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


YouTube:
Gerald Ford named VP after Spiro Agnew resigns
Debate blunder that may have cost him re-election
posted by fandango_matt at 9:50 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ford was a good man, and no one has been able to poke holes in his integrity. He pardoned Nixon for what he believed were good reasons. I'm not sure I entirely agree with his decision, but I do not believe for a second it was done as some sort of sick back scratching among chums.

.
posted by John Smallberries at 9:51 PM on December 26, 2006


A handful of reasons I did not like Ford, at all: Ford selected George H.W. Bush to be both Ambassador to the People's Republic of China in 1974 and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1975.[28] In 1975, Ford also selected former congressman and ambassador Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld had previously served as Ford's transition chairman and later Chief of Staff. Additionally, Ford chose a young Wyoming politician, Richard Cheney, to be his new Chief of Staff and later campaign manager for Ford's 1976 presidential campaign.

After Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned during Richard Nixon's presidency October 10, 1973, Nixon nominated Ford to take Agnew's position.

At least he introduced a conditional amnesty program for Vietnam War draft dodgers who had fled to countries such as Canada. Unconditional amnesty, however, did not come about until the Jimmy Carter presidency.

Condolences to his children and wife, Betty Ford, outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, women's rights activist, open and honest about having a mastectomy at a time when it was shameful to talk about such things, as well as facing her alcoholism and opening her eponymous Center.
posted by nickyskye at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2006


Condolences to his children and wife, Betty Ford, outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, women's rights activist, open and honest about having a mastectomy at a time when it was shameful to talk about such things, as well as facing her alcoholism and opening her eponymous Center.

Can anyone imagine Laura Bush doing a single one of those things? Or something of that scale? God, what a woman.

Her husband was a good, decent, honest, intelligent man. The last good Republican president, quite possibly forever.

.
posted by Epenthesis at 9:58 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


.

After all, the man was down with Homer Simpson.
posted by Kronoss at 10:00 PM on December 26, 2006


I understand why he pardoned President Nixon; if he had not done so, the nation would have remained frozen in time for too long, and allowed our enemies to perceive weakness.

I don't know. I see the dogged pursuit of justice, even at the highest levels of power, as being a sign of a strong democracy. I see granting pardons for the sake of political expediency as weakness. But, of course, our enemies are feeble-minded savages who are only capable of understanding brute force, so they would have missed the subtleties of that point.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:02 PM on December 26, 2006 [3 favorites]


After securing the Republican nomination in 1980, Ronald Reagan gave serious consideration to his former rival Ford as a potential vice-presidential running mate. But negotiations between the Reagan and Ford camps at the Republican National Convention in Detroit were unsuccessful. Ford conditioned his acceptance on Reagan's agreement to an unprecedented "co-presidency", giving Ford the power to control key executive branch appointments (such as Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State and Alan Greenspan as Treasury Secretary). After rejecting these terms, Reagan offered the vice-presidential nomination instead to George H.W. Bush

Huh. I never knew that.

CNN already is revising history--they just said that he was placed in Agnew's Veep slot because the Democratic Congress of the time would never have impeached had Agnew still been there because Agnew was so polarizing.

That makes absolutely no sense.
posted by mediareport at 10:02 PM on December 26, 2006


Wow! MeFites really know how to hold a grudge!
posted by barrista at 10:04 PM on December 26, 2006


What nickyskye said.
This guy was the poster-boy for the Undistinguished,
spent his post-presidency on the country-club-rubber-chicken circuit, was a shadow compared to other ex-prezzies (J.C. and B.C. come to mind) and did no good.
I am sorry for his kids and family-- they must be in much pain.
But his Legacy?
Meh.
posted by Dizzy at 10:04 PM on December 26, 2006


Say, Homer, do you like football?
posted by Flunkie at 10:11 PM on December 26, 2006


If that's meant to be free verse, Dizzy, I think you might want to consider keeping your day job.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:12 PM on December 26, 2006


Well said Astro Zombie.
posted by nickyskye at 10:14 PM on December 26, 2006


His administration and career was about far more than Nixon's pardon (leaving Vietnam, visting China, SALT, partial amnesty for draft dodgers, Helsinki Watch) but if you can't see beyond that and feel the need to insult him, maybe you should stay out of a thread about his death.

Except he didn't do any of those things, except the partial amnesty. Nixon and/or Kissinger did.
posted by amberglow at 10:17 PM on December 26, 2006


loquax, and John Smallberries: I think you've either forgotten or simply don't know much about Ford's time in Congress. He tried, repeatedly, to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, despite the fact that Douglas had committed no crimes, and Ford himself did not accuse Douglas of committing crimes, he just didn't like him.

When asked about his push to impeach a non-criminal Justice, Ford said: "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."

So no, he wasn't a good man and he wasn't a moderate, he was exactly the same sort of attack dog Republican we are still suffering from today. I don't take joy in the deaths of others, but neither will I shed crocodile tears for a man who gave us a foreshadow of the Clinton impeachment. He was one of the bad guys, and the fact that he was able to radiate an aura of "just a bumbling nice guy" doesn't change that.
posted by sotonohito at 10:18 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Helsinki: Widely discounted in advance as mainly a theatrical spectacular, the 35-nation European Security Conference at Helsinki held no great dangers for President Ford. Indeed, he nimbly and confidently stepped through all of the required public paces and signed the Helsinki declaration (see THE WORLD) with a warning that "we had better say what we mean and mean what we say or we will have the anger of our citizens to answer." But as he turned homeward this week, with stops in Rumania and Yugoslavia. Ford could count on very few of the personal political gains that customarily follow a presidential trip abroad. His stature at home may, in fact, have slipped a bit. ...
posted by amberglow at 10:21 PM on December 26, 2006


Apparently he died from a severely impacted bowel.

As much as I might stall carry a grudge about the Nixon pardon -- yow!

Still, he managed to make it to being our longest lived president.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:25 PM on December 26, 2006


I always thought he'd end up being remembered as the non-threatening paper pushing president of the 20th Century. Other than the Nixon pardon I didn't think there was much of a reason to hate the man. Although, now that I think of it, he's the recent president I seem to hear the least about.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:28 PM on December 26, 2006


posted by Astro Zombie Apparently he died from a severely impacted bowel.

His long intestinal nightmare is over.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:33 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. (pre-pardon)
posted by amberglow at 10:34 PM on December 26, 2006


Fun fact: Gerald Ford was the only male model to become president.

I'm too young to have an axe to grind over Watergate, my condolences to his family.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:37 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I lived through Watergate. Sure there was a deal, but he was the right man for the job at the right time. And in his post-presidency life he always had a good sense of humor, and was extrememly articulate. Even though he was lampooned as bumbling and dumb, he was still more "presidential" than the current occupant.
posted by The Deej at 10:38 PM on December 26, 2006


Wow, this is such a coincidence. I mean, James Brown died just a couple days ago. And now Gerald Ford dies, and he was kinda like the James Brown of post-Nixon, pre-Carter presidents.

My friends, the world today is a lot less funky then it was just a few short days ago.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:38 PM on December 26, 2006


I'm never gonna forgive him for the Warren Commission.
posted by cookie-k at 10:38 PM on December 26, 2006


I don't know. I see the dogged pursuit of justice, even at the highest levels of power, as being a sign of a strong democracy. I see granting pardons for the sake of political expediency as weakness.

What would the outcome have been? Years of trials, and a virtual standstill of the US government at a time of war, economic problems and global upheaval (not to mention the second unfulfilled presidential term in ten years) for what? A suspended sentence in a criminal trial for Nixon? Two years in jail? Do you also believe that Clinton should have been criminally prosecuted for perjury? Was Ken Star doggedly pursuing justice? Nixon had resigned, a de facto admission of guilt, and paid the price of being a pariah, a virtual synonym for corruption and executive malfeasance. If you ask me, he paid the price for his actions, as did the country. A post-resignation criminal trial would have only hurt the country, Nixon already lost everything.

Except he didn't do any of those things, except the partial amnesty. Nixon and/or Kissinger did.


Does this mean you have a great respect for the foreign policy of the Nixon administration then?

So no, he wasn't a good man and he wasn't a moderate, he was exactly the same sort of attack dog Republican we are still suffering from today.


Despite the farce that was the Douglas impeachment, he publically opposed the Clinton impeachment. I don't know why you assert that likely his one obvious public mistake in office makes him a "bad guy" or "attack dog". Or is that just automatic for anyone on the other side for you? Partisan politics is certainly not the purview of the Republican party, and neither is interfering in the Supreme Court. He was certainly no great President or even particularily distinguished politician, but neither is he deserving of derision. Hell, even Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter praised Ford and his decision to pardon Nixon.
posted by loquax at 10:39 PM on December 26, 2006


Years of trials, and a virtual standstill of the US government at a time of war,

Where do people get the idea that "trial of public official"="shutdown of the US government"??

A post-resignation criminal trial would have only hurt the country, Nixon already lost everything.

No, he didn't "lose everything". In fact, he lived out the rest of his life rather comfortably. If any of us regular Americans, on the other hand, were caught committing a conspiracy as wide-ranging and slimy as Nixon did, we'd rot in prison for the rest of our lives.
What would have HELPED the country was treating a criminal like a criminal, regardless of stature. Instead, the Nixon pardon was an open admission on the part of the American "powers that be" that they are EXEMPT FROM THE SAME LAWS THAT BIND US.

...he publically opposed the Clinton impeachment.

Whoopty doo, nothing Ford did or said really mattered after he stopped being the lamest lame-duck President in recent history. He will be remembered through history as "Nixon's b**ch", and rightly so.
posted by eparchos at 10:47 PM on December 26, 2006 [4 favorites]


Even though he was lampooned as bumbling and dumb, he was still more "presidential" than the current occupant.
Damning with faint praise.
posted by Flunkie at 10:47 PM on December 26, 2006


Weirdly enough, the Comedy Network here in Canada played the Simpsons episode "Two Bad Neighbors" at 9 PM Eastern tonight.

Good night, Gerald.
posted by maudlin at 10:48 PM on December 26, 2006


Does this mean you have a great respect for the foreign policy of the Nixon administration then?
Nixon's foreign policy, Vietnam excluded, was not bad at all. Nixon, if you ignore the crimes, paranoia, and Vietnam, did a lot of good on the whole, especially compared to Ford, Bush and Bush---he did Head Start, opened up to China, and, surprisingly, expanded and/or strengthened many many social programs.

American Experience on Ford, and the impact of the pardon: ... Almost overnight, Ford was perceived differently by the press and the public. No longer was he an accessible alternative, but rather an inept puppet. ...
posted by amberglow at 10:50 PM on December 26, 2006


What would the outcome have been? Years of trials, and a virtual standstill of the US government at a time of war, economic problems and global upheaval (not to mention the second unfulfilled presidential term in ten years) for what? A suspended sentence in a criminal trial for Nixon? Two years in jail?

Well, either there is the rule of law, and it applies to all sectors of society, and applies equally, or there isn't. I know which country I would rather live in.

Additionally, had the investigations into Nixon's criminality continued, members of Nixon's administration might have seen a little justice, or at least been denied a future in politics. Instead, they have been among the creators of this disastrous administration, and its monstrous war.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:50 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


oops--i left out Reagan.
posted by amberglow at 10:54 PM on December 26, 2006


It will be interesting to see if Bush gives a speech, perhaps at the funeral.

Typically, his speeches praising specific people sound like a fourth grader's book report: "Harriet Myers went to high school. Harriet Myers went to college. Harriet Myers was a lawyer. Harriet Myers was a Brownie Troop Leader."
posted by Flunkie at 10:56 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


was it Ford/Dole vs. Reagan/Bush in 76? (and Reagan came within a hair of getting it?)
posted by amberglow at 10:59 PM on December 26, 2006


Good man or not:

Thanks for unwittingly setting that pardon precedent--asshole.

(I reserve my "."s for men with spines)
posted by sourwookie at 11:00 PM on December 26, 2006


was it Ford/Dole vs. Reagan/Bush in 76? (and Reagan came within a hair of getting it?)
I don't think the VP decisions were made by the time that Reagan dropped out, and I'm pretty sure that Reagan and Bush didn't buddy up until (effectively) after the 1980 primaries.
posted by Flunkie at 11:04 PM on December 26, 2006


.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:05 PM on December 26, 2006


ah--thanks Flunkie.

this is interesting: Ford, daddy Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and wiretaps
posted by amberglow at 11:06 PM on December 26, 2006


Rummy and Cheney under Ford
posted by amberglow at 11:11 PM on December 26, 2006


No more or less a war criminal than, say, Reagan or Carter.
posted by Clay201 at 11:14 PM on December 26, 2006


bruce writes: you people who are still grinding your axes against him for the nixon pardon need to get professional help.

You mean, like hiring a lawyer that might get the pardon overturned, so we can finally put Nixon on trial like he should've been?

Hey, I know tricky Dick's dead and all, but a posthumous trial would be better than nothing, right?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:15 PM on December 26, 2006


was it Ford/Dole vs. Reagan/Bush in 76?

That doesn't make any sense.
posted by mediareport at 11:18 PM on December 26, 2006


NYTimes obit--10 webpages--...His decision to grant a full and absolute pardon to his predecessor stunned the nation. After going to church the morning of Sept. 8, 1974, Mr. Ford went on national television to announce that there would be no formal judicial retribution against Mr. Nixon. Then, apparently untroubled by his decision, he played golf. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:19 PM on December 26, 2006


After all the frothing at the mouth has subsided, keep the following quote from one of amberglow's links in mind .....

Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy at the American Civil Liberties Union, said comparing the Ford-era debate to the current controversy is "misleading because no matter what Mr. Cheney or Mr. Rumsfeld may have argued back in 1976, the fact is they lost. When Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, Congress decisively resolved this debate. Unlike the current administration, the Ford administration never claimed the right to violate a law requiring judicial oversight of wiretaps in foreign intelligence investigations if Congress were to pass such a law."
posted by blucevalo at 11:19 PM on December 26, 2006


media, for the GOP nomination.
posted by amberglow at 11:19 PM on December 26, 2006


Nixon's foreign policy, Vietnam excluded, was not bad at all.

Oh, then we're in agreement. Then I would forward the though that Ford, as an unelected VP and president, did not have the mandate to be anything but a "puppet" of the Nixon administration, and it would have been wrong for him to deviate in any substantial way from the platform that Nixon had been elected on (handily). It is to his credit that he did not abuse the roundabout way that he came to office in order to further his own career or legacy, and a tribute that he pardoned Nixon despite the criticism and popular opposition (which he clearly would not have been blind to).

Well, either there is the rule of law, and it applies to all sectors of society, and applies equally, or there isn't. I know which country I would rather live in.

Hang on. We're either talking about the law or justice. The rule of law was applied fully in this case. Ford, according to the powers granted by him by the consitution, pardoned Nixon. It was legal, and no different than what every President or Governor does with convicted criminals. If we're talking about justice, then it's a matter of opinion. I don't believe that adding jail time or an official criminal record to Nixon's disgrace would have in any way increased his punishment. If anything, his resignation demonstrates that justice was, in fact, persued to the highest level of government.

As for the intervening 30-odd years, who's to say what would have happened. Given that only 6 years after Nixon, and crushing defeats to the Republicans in the Senate and house in 1974, Republicans held the Presidency from 1980-1992, I would blame Jimmy Carter and the Democrats more than I would the aborted trial of Richard Nixon for the power the Republican party has held in the past few decades. If the Democrats couldn't capitalize on Watergate to create a lasting legacy, no purge of relatively low-level (at the time) party aparatchiks would have helped. Don't blame Ford for what 3 of his hundreds of appointments did decades later.

And in 1976, it was Ford/Dole vs. Reagan/Schweiker. Reagan stayed in until the end, losing by just under 100 delagates.
posted by loquax at 11:19 PM on December 26, 2006


They had to hunt thru all previous administrations to find something that would count as precedent, loquax--they found it in Wilson's administration. It had never been done for a President, and still is the only time. He wasn't convicted or formally indicted yet, and he hadn't yet stood trial at all, as he was supposed to, like all other pardoned people. His resignation was voluntary, and was not justice done by any means. It was Nixon running away before they came down on him and hauled him away like the criminal he was.
posted by amberglow at 11:31 PM on December 26, 2006


The rule of law was subverted twice--first by Nixon resigning instead of taking it like a man, and then by the pardon.
posted by amberglow at 11:32 PM on December 26, 2006


Years of trials, and a virtual standstill of the US government at a time of war,

Where do people get the idea that "trial of public official"="shutdown of the US government"??

eparchos

Apparently you don't recall the Clinton impeachment, and how it pretty much consumed the entire country for its duration. Imagine that, but 1000 times worse.

Can't you at least see why someone would do the pardon? That if you were in that position, with the nation having just come out of a war that had essentially broken its spirit, that was facing increasing economic problems, rising crime rates, and problems abroad, that you might think that perhaps what would be the most bitter and divisive political event in modern US history would be something you would want to spare the country? Maybe it's not the wisest course, and it does let a criminal get away, but for a second just sit back and cut the snark and the sarcasm and the blind idealism. The decision didn't earn Ford anything. What did Ford get from this decision? Essentially, the complete destruction of his political career and reputation, both public and personal. This was a guy who had a really good shot at being elected again as President, but threw it away to do something I think he felt would be good for the country. I'm not saying he was a saint or a genius, I'm just saying that before you pass judgment you should at least try to see the situation he was in and why he might want to do what he did.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:41 PM on December 26, 2006


His resignation was voluntary, and was not justice done by any means. It was Nixon running away before they came down on him and hauled him away like the criminal he was.

If anything I would argue that a trial, subject to the rigors of procedure and burden of proof, added to the secret materials that a criminal court would never have access to would have resulted in a far more muddled and confusing legacy to Watergate than the version of events that we are left with today - the unchallenged and unrefuted accusations against him, never proven in court. It's more than likely that a trial would have resulted in an acquital on legal grounds, or a very minor sentance, certainly nothing more revalatory or shocking than what had already been uncovered. If anything, Nixon got shafted by never getting his day in court and having the opportunity to answer the charges against him. The pre-emptive pardon acted as a guilty verdict despite the presumption of innocence, and hurt him far more than a trial ever could have. I'm sure he would have personally welcomed a trial, and enjoyed watching constitutional lawyers twist themselves in knots for years before a jury acquits due to total confusion. It's to his credit that he resigned, confessed, and accepted a bench verdict of gulity and spent his post-presidential years as a joke and a villian instead of drawing out his personal drama over years, overshawdowing and undermining the policy he had fought for and Americans had voted for twice.
posted by loquax at 11:45 PM on December 26, 2006


The rule of law was subverted twice--first by Nixon resigning instead of taking it like a man, and then by the pardon.
I guess I just don't get this. I mean, I'm all for digging up Nixon's corpse so we can send it to jail, but I fail to see how "the rule of law was subverted".

The law allows the President to resign.

The law allows the President to pardon whoever he wants, except in cases of impeachment.
posted by Flunkie at 11:48 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


posted by amberglow The rule of law was subverted twice--first by Nixon resigning instead of taking it like a man, and then by the pardon.

Say again? The rule of law was not subverted. Neither resigning from office nor the pardon were against the law.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:49 PM on December 26, 2006


Watergate already was the most bitter and divisive and hearings had been going on for ages and ages by then--and shown live on tv. People had already gone to jail, and the damage to the country had been done--a trial would have healed the country, and shown that no one was above the law. It would have been closure.
posted by amberglow at 11:49 PM on December 26, 2006


Apparently you don't recall the Clinton impeachment,

Apparently you don't know the difference between impeachment and a criminal trial of a resigned president.
Besides which, I do NOT recall it "shutting down our government", in the least. In fact, last I checked, impeachment was a procedure our government is very deeply involved in, and our government gets very busy during that time. I also don't recall hordes of invaders at our doors because of Monica Lewinsky's dress, nor do I recall any threats of invasion because of Clinton's perjury.
There is no snark or sarcasm or blind idealism going on with me here, I think the pardon of Nixon was one of the absolute worst things anybody could have done. The people of the United States came out of a rough period and what awaited them? A criminal and corrupt President is caught in the act. And then what? He got pardoned by one of his party lackeys. That does not engender faith in governance. Understand that my only "blind idealism" here is that an official should represent the people.
There is a very good reason that Ford's reputation was destroyed in the wake of that decision: He betrayed his country. As far as his re-election chances, I don't think you're really understanding that Nixon was a Republican, and so was Ford. There is no way in hell that the population would elect ANOTHER Republican after Nixon, and this is a fact that I'm sure ford and his gang of thugs were perfectly aware of.
posted by eparchos at 11:51 PM on December 26, 2006


So the Clinton impeachment shutdown the government? I don't remember that. Or would "1000 worse" shutdown the government?
posted by bob sarabia at 11:55 PM on December 26, 2006


The rule of law for law-breaking presidents is hearings and then either impeachment or clearing of his name. Nixon ran away before impeachment was voted on, halting the appropriate legal process already in motion. He would have been impeached --that's a certainty. The wheels of justice and legal process were already in motion, and Nixon, who swore under oath to uphold the laws and the Constitution, ran away rather than face it. Ford, by pardoning an unindicted and unconvicted person, set dangerous precedent and pre-emptively absolved Nixon without letting the legal processes go forward or run its course--Nixon, even after resignation, was still liable and would have been brought to court as a citizen.
posted by amberglow at 11:56 PM on December 26, 2006


a trial would have healed the country, and shown that no one was above the law. It would have been closure.

Like I said, my bet is that a trial would have meant the opposite. You seem to have him convicted and hung of everything that Woodward et al accused him of. Remember that he continues to be innocent until proven guilty of all charges against him, and it's very very difficult for me to believe that a criminal trial of an ex-president for actions while he was president would be anywhere close to as cut and dry as you seem to believe it would be. Ask yourself what would have happened to the country if the charges had been dropped in 1975 due to lack of evidence? Or if on appeal in 1978 he would have been acquitted on all charges?

There is no way in hell that the population would elect ANOTHER Republican after Nixon, and this is a fact that I'm sure ford and his gang of thugs were perfectly aware of.

Really?
posted by loquax at 11:58 PM on December 26, 2006


... Yet unless Nixon resigns, and he insists that he will not, the 93rd Congress will surely find its place in history as the "impeachment Congress." The rubric will stand whatever the outcome, even should the House ultimately vote that there are insufficient grounds to support impeachment and let the matter end there. The processes already well begun will ensure the niche. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:58 PM on December 26, 2006


Seriously, though. What's with all the hating on my man Gerald? Don't you know that America needs its Taylors, Tylers, and Fillmores just as badly as it needs its Lincolns, Roosevelts, and Kennedys?

Consider Ford to be a sacrificial lamb on the altar of history.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:59 PM on December 26, 2006


Looks like someone's already playing with Wikipedia. From Betty Ford's page:

"In 1978, Betty's family staged an intervention and forced her to confront her alcoholism and addiction to opioid analgesics and draino and seek treatment."
posted by stavrogin at 12:01 AM on December 27, 2006


loquax:
Yes, really.... Jimmy "Hi I'm a Peanut Farmer" Carter won....
posted by eparchos at 12:03 AM on December 27, 2006


Coincidentally, Gerald Ford was the subject of a 1974 James Brown hit single.

People, people
We got to get over
Before we go under...

Country, do you know
Just what I meant?
We just changed
We got a brand new Funky President...

posted by LinusMines at 12:04 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Things are more like today than they have ever been before."
posted by oncogenesis at 12:04 AM on December 27, 2006


The rule of law for law-breaking presidents is hearings and then either impeachment or clearing of his name.
That's part of the rule of law.

Another part of the rule of law is that the President can resign.

Yet another part of the rule of law is that the President can pardon anyone, except in cases of impeachment.

You can't seriously argue that the rule of law was subverted, because it wasn't. Everything done was perfectly legal.

I think you would see significantly less disagreement -- certainly from me, at least -- if you were to say something like "justice was perverted". But that's a very different matter than "the rule of law".
posted by Flunkie at 12:12 AM on December 27, 2006


another dim republican bulb - at least his crimes were less than the current terrorist in chief now in office
posted by specialk420 at 12:14 AM on December 27, 2006


Operation Stumblebum comes to its conclusion at last.
posted by jonson at 12:15 AM on December 27, 2006


Yes, really.... Jimmy "Hi I'm a Peanut Farmer" Carter won...

By 50.1% of the vote and with Ford carrying 27 states. Hardly a landslide. And if Carter hadn't been from the South, he wouldn't have won. I think there was a bit more than a chance in hell that Ford and his thugs would have been elected in 1976 had it not been for the pardon.
posted by loquax at 12:20 AM on December 27, 2006


loquax:

So, the incumbent lost the Presidency to a peanut farmer and Walter Mondale and you still think that he had a chance?
posted by eparchos at 12:27 AM on December 27, 2006


eparchos:

It's not a matter of what I think, Carter's margin of victory was the smallest since Kennedy beat Nixon in 1960, and until 2000. Hell, Bush beat Kerry worse in '04 and he was accused of stealing the election.

I'm not sure what your point is here. I understood you to mean that Ford *knew* he wasn't going to win in '76 so he pardoned Nixon anyways knowing there were no consequences to him personally.

I'm saying that despite pardoning Nixon, he narrowly lost in the closest race in the last half of the 20th century, and if he hadn't, he may well have won, meaning that pardoning Nixon came at a personal cost to him.
posted by loquax at 12:37 AM on December 27, 2006


loquax:

I'm saying he would have lost no matter which Democrat he ran against, and that the stellar team of Carter/Mondale proves that point more eloquently than I ever could.
posted by eparchos at 12:49 AM on December 27, 2006


eparchos:

That's a very bold statement considering less than two million votes separated them, and Ford carried more states than Carter, and I think it's not correct when it comes to Ford's calculations with respect to the 1976 elections. If you honestly believe incumbent presidents are in the practice of giving up on elections years in advance, and indeed throwing them on purpose, I think we're not going to agree here.
posted by loquax at 12:55 AM on December 27, 2006


loquax:

I don't believe that incumbent presidents are "in the practice of giving up on elections years in advance", but I do think Ford was under the impression that he HAD no chance of re-election when he pardoned Nixon. And that impression, I think, was absolutely correct.
posted by eparchos at 1:08 AM on December 27, 2006


tragedy today as former president gerald ford was eaten by wolves.... he was delicious!
posted by phaedon at 1:10 AM on December 27, 2006


... Hallmarks of adherence to the rule of law commonly include a clear separation of powers, legal certainty, the principle of legitimate expectation and equality of all before the law. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:35 AM on December 27, 2006


one is certainly touched by the tragedy of loquax's personal loss, because only a relative of the late unelected President could try to bend historical fact as badly as loquax is doing here in favor of the poor Mr. Ford.

demonstrably false statements like "Nixon had resigned, a de facto admission of guilt" (ne he didn't, he left because the GOP had dumped him and was certain to be removed, but in style he tried to spin his resignation as some sort of statesman action to benefit great nation of America), "paid the price of being a pariah, a virtual synonym for corruption and executive malfeasance" (you must have been on Mars in 1994, when the Nixon funeral became a crazed day of national mourning for, the liberal media explained us, a giant of the 20th century, and the Republican Senate Leader called the 20th century itself "the Century of Nixon", ah the irony. Nixon in retirement, safe for prosecution for various crimes including blatant tax evasion, became some sort of guru for many Republican politician, most of them thankfully unsuccessful).

Nixon already lost everything.

except money (millions), access, and the chance to rewrite history in his creepy autobiographical tomes. and of course, that hero's funeral (one innocent spectator would assume that someone like FDR or Teddy Roosevelt had died that day, not a shamefully corrupt, failed, antisemitical war criminal).

anyway, re: Ford. the real epitaph is that, his nice retired grandpa manners notwithstanding -- that's what most of us in the under 50 crowd will remember anyway, in the long run -- he has been a political nobody who had to be, briefly, in a place much bigger than his own talent (LBJ's unkind assessment on Ford's political skills will be the true Ford epitaph) but then, in his brief time in power he gave us the careers of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and yes, pardoned an impressively criminal President. and that's what he will be remembered for (the "unelected President" part will vanish, too, he was joined in that dubious honor only 25 years later by an accomplice's son anyway)
posted by matteo at 3:05 AM on December 27, 2006 [4 favorites]


clear separation of powers

Check, the President cannot pardon an impeachment.

legal certainty, the principle of legitimate expectation

Check. No questions there. If anything, Nixon's legitimate expecation to rebut the charges he faced were supersceded by the pardon, which was functionally a summary conviction.

equality of all before the law

Check, subject to any argument to the contrary that makes sense in light of the explicit authority given to the president to hand out pardons. In fact, a strong case can be made that if Nixon's pardon was not legitimate, in light of the fact that it was made prior to a conviction, then the amnesty granted to draft dodgers was also illegitimate.

Again I stress that given the missing 18 minutes, the censoring of documents due to national security and very tenuous links between the perpetrators of the break in and Nixon himself, a conviction on any criminal charge would have been a miracle (although I'm no lawyer and would certainly be open to counter-arguments). The optics were more than enough to impeach in congress for the comparatively vague concepts of contempt and abuse of power, not not nearly enough to convict Nixon beyond a reasonable doubt of any specific criminal act.

To decide not to prosecute someone (which was essentially what the pardon was, minus public opinion) is not a breach of the rule of law, and it happens every day in every prosector's office.
posted by loquax at 3:12 AM on December 27, 2006


.
An average man put in the unenviable position of pardoning or not, he handled it with grace.
posted by orthogonality at 3:14 AM on December 27, 2006


"."

Flagged as noise.
posted by Eideteker at 3:51 AM on December 27, 2006


Why, just this morning in the shower I was thinking to myself (get your mind out of the gutter) that these types of things always happen in threes.

"Yesterday it was *the* JB. Who will be next?" I thought.

Turns out Gerald Ford was second. Who will be third? Any wagers?
posted by Brittanie at 3:58 AM on December 27, 2006


To decide not to prosecute someone (which was essentially what the pardon was, minus public opinion) is not a breach of the rule of law, and it happens every day in every prosector's office.
Not true. A Presidential pardon means you can't be tried either in civil or criminal court or any court ever. A pardon means you're off scot-free. A prosecutor can decide not to prosecute or to prosecute--There is no recourse when a pardon is given, and that's why it's always given after a trial and sentencing, except in this case.

Show me one other Presidential pardon ever given to someone preemptively like this. Don't even try to justify it--it was wrong, and it was negotiated with the pardoned beforehand (another first, i believe). Do you honestly think it's legal to pardon people when there are no official allegations of crime established in a court (or in Congress), and the person has not yet/never been indicted? Equality of all before the law, my ass.
posted by amberglow at 4:17 AM on December 27, 2006


The optics were more than enough to impeach in congress for the comparatively vague concepts of contempt and abuse of power, not not nearly enough to convict Nixon beyond a reasonable doubt of any specific criminal act.

He wasn't accused of the break-in. The Articles of Impeachment barely reference it. He wasn't accused of violating "vague concepts", either, but of specific criminal acts under those concepts, including perjury, obstruction of justice, and contempt of Congress, which specifically violated his oath of office.

The Articles only passed committee because the party lost faith with him. There was a reasonable expectation of a vigorous defense, but I don't think there was a reasonable expectation, given the mounting preponderance of evidence, that he would have survived the process. That, of course, is why he resigned -- not because George Bush went to his office and asked him to.

This wasn't 1997 in reverse, in other words. The GOP was not a nearly 100% united front anymore. Party elders knew the man had committed grave abuses. The Republicans on the judiciary committee alone were split almost in half.

As for Ford, I think he legitimately believed that his pardon would lift some sort of national cloud and help him get re-elected as a sort of reconciliation president. Wrong in practice, of course -- he completely misjudged the national mood, which was that the task of finding out what Nixon had actually done was left unfinished.

Later experience such as the fantastic example of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissions has shown that precisely the opposite approach is needed.

The one thing I've never been able to figure out about him was the debate slip-up. Clearly he volunteered to say "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there will be none under a Ford administration." It was a firm and practiced line; he wasn't tricked into saying it. He meant something by it, but whatever political calculus was involved was lost on almost everyone. I wouldn't go so far as the paranoid YouTube clip's narrator calling it "denial" -- but there was something bespoke about his reasoning.
posted by dhartung at 4:28 AM on December 27, 2006


it's amazing to me that people will cry over milk that has been spilt, dried, weathered and eventually broken down into its constituent atoms and scattered to the four winds ... the people complaining about nixon's pardon remind me of my old high school teacher in the 70s who occasionally made disparaging comments about fdr being the great white father that 1) no one understood 2) no one cared about 3) further enhanced her reputation as a stiff, demanding old bat

i didn't agree with the pardon at the time, either, but soon saw that the country managed to move on from it, that little real hurt was done and that it was wisest to close this sad chapter of american history, especially when things were falling apart

at the time, there were long gas lines, inflation, a feeling that the country was quickly going to hell and a bitter end to all the dreams and aspirations of the 60s that hadn't already been acheived ... not to mention that soon, factories across the country would snap shut like rusted rat traps, our country would be dealt the final humiliation of losing a foreign war and our government would be revealed as fractious, inept and hopelessly corrupt ... to subject the country to a trial of a former president would have been more than we could have taken ...

for one thing, where the hell were we going to get an impartial jury?

for another thing, since the impeachment of clinton, politics have not ceased to be shrill, bitter and obnoxious ... say what you will, but the politicians of the 70s managed their great conflict with grace and came to a certain conclusion, which is more than you can say about the fractious inhabitants of today's romper room that is congress

those who live in the past aren't living in the present
posted by pyramid termite at 4:29 AM on December 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


Do you honestly think it's legal to pardon people when there are no official allegations of crime established in a court (or in Congress), and the person has not yet/never been indicted?

According to the consitution it is. Nixon was pardoned for any crime he committed or may have committed during a particular time period. Similar to the amnesty granted to those who illegally avoided the draft before they faced any official allegations of a crime, similar to the amnesty granted to confederate soldiers and officers.

I honestly believe that you're looking at this from the perspective of a guaranteed, quick and painless conviction on any and all charges. If that would be the case, I would agree that Nixon should have tried, convicted then pardoned, or whatever. Given that I think he would have been acquitted, or at the very least the trial would have been a total nightmare resulting in a verdict no more condemning than his resignation in the eyes of the public, I see no problem with the pardon.

Nixon was the first president to step down, in remarkable circumstances with broad constitutional ramifications. To point at this particular case and say that it was a breakdown of rule of law because of an unusual yet legal excersize of a constitutional power by a president I think is a stretch.

He wasn't accused of the break-in. The Articles of Impeachment barely reference it. He wasn't accused of violating "vague concepts", either, but of specific criminal acts under those concepts, including perjury, obstruction of justice, and contempt of Congress, which specifically violated his oath of office.

I never said he was accused of the break-in (though many people do believe that he was, like people believe that Clinton was up on charges of sex, or something, instead of perjury). The articles of impeachment and the impeachment process in general cannot be compared to the process in a criminal trial. The articles of impeachment are not an indictment, are not predicated on criminal law and cannot be translated into a criminal proceding (from what I understand). When I said they were vague, I only meant vague relative to what hypothetical criminal charges may have been brought against Nixon, and only to illustrate that it would be much easier to impeach him than to convict him (in my opinion).
posted by loquax at 4:44 AM on December 27, 2006


The Fallout from Ford's Rush to Pardon--... By a vote of 347 to 169, the California State Bar Association denounced the pardon as violating the tenet "that all persons stand equal before the law" and claimed that it threatened to "undermine" the "American system of justice." Leaders of the City Bar Association of New York charged that Ford had acted "prematurely and unwisely" and bluntly urged him to "permit the administration of justice to proceed without further hindrance." ...
posted by amberglow at 4:53 AM on December 27, 2006


yawn ... let's get some lava lamps and some polyester clothes and start a new chapter of the sca so we can put nixon on trial
posted by pyramid termite at 5:01 AM on December 27, 2006


Any idea when or if the stock market will be closed as a result?
When Nixon died we (federal employees) got a day off with pay. Can't recall if that was the case for Ronnie Raygun. Hope we get a nice holiday this time so I can reflect on Gerald Ford's contribution to America and the larger world.
posted by fixedgear at 5:07 AM on December 27, 2006


Ford's pardon, in effect, set us up for the current Administration. The right thing to do was to convict every person responsible.

Instead, Ford pardons, nobody testifies, and we lose again and again.

I'm sorry he died. He didn't seem like an evil person. I feel for his wife, who tried to help the sick.

But there's no credit in that pardon. None. It was a shameful dodge of justice.
posted by eriko at 5:13 AM on December 27, 2006


Apparently he died from a severely impacted bowel. He was a minor skid mark on the panties of history.
posted by crispynubbins at 5:23 AM on December 27, 2006


I'm too young to have an axe to grind over Watergate

Because the only history that matters is that which occurred during my lifetime.
posted by psmealey at 5:39 AM on December 27, 2006


Most frequently overridden president. Evar.

Btw, Ford's pardon of Nixon didn't so much "heal the nation" and prevent us from showing weakness to our enemies (as if holding our leaders to the highest law of the land shows weakness), it pretty much was designed to isolate and minimize any damage Nixon and his staff's actions was to have on the Republican party. It was as partisan an act as there ever was... and it mostly worked. Ford and Carter were polling at a dead heat just days before the 76 election.

Ford's venemous attacks on liberals at the 1988 GOP convention said all you needed to know about him. His act as a conciliatory, moderate figure was just that. While he was not an ideologue in the vein of Goldwater (who was more honorable) and Reagan, he was nevertheless a partisan attack dog to the last.
posted by psmealey at 5:57 AM on December 27, 2006


Hmm. If he'd known that the pardon was all he'd be remembered for, he probably wishes he took the pro football contracts he was offered by the Lions and the Packers instead of going to law school and joining the Navy.
posted by jonmc at 6:01 AM on December 27, 2006


Most frequently overridden president. Evar.

My bad. Andrew Johnson edges Ford (and Truman, who was tied with Ford) by a field goal at 15 to 12.
posted by psmealey at 6:02 AM on December 27, 2006


I'm torn. Ford seemed like a good and honorable man. Perhaps a bit facile (ie: the "WIN" campaign). I liked his family too. I am, however, dubious of the common image of him struggling over the pardon and ultimately erring on the side of healing the nation. Does anyone really think that the pardon wasn't a quid pro quo for the presidency?

I dunno. Maybe I'm just too jaded by the glut of corporatist GOP huckers that followed. I never detected that sort of sleaze in Ford. But, well-intentioned or not, he taught the next generation of bureaucrats and party tools that they could engage in all sorts of perfidy, confident that their president would pardon them in the end*.

=====
(*) Yeah, Iran-Contra -- I'm looking at you!
posted by RavinDave at 6:05 AM on December 27, 2006


deathlist.net strikes 13
posted by takeyourmedicine at 6:06 AM on December 27, 2006


it pretty much was designed to isolate and minimize any damage Nixon and his staff's actions was to have on the Republican party. It was as partisan an act as there ever was... and it mostly worked.

actually, it failed miserably ... ronald reagan staged a party revolt that combined with post watergate disgust, cost the republican party the election ... i can recall watching the catcalls and boos as ronnie's '76 bid was shot down at the convention ... the old guard was put on notice that they'd screwed things up and that a new guard was going to do its best to take things over ... it was all papered over at the convention, but it was clear that lines had been drawn on a grassroots level

by 1980, they were ready to and they did ... and, it wasn't because of the old guard's pardoning and tolerating nixon's perfidy, but because the new guard was convinced the old guard had assisted the democrats in getting rid of him ... ford didn't "teach" the new guys that anything they did was ok because they'd get a pardon for it ... the new guys were convinced that the whole scenario was justified, that the scandal never should have happened to begin with and the only reason it did was because the old guard betrayed their leader

in short, ford got no credit from the left for healing the nation's wounds ... and no credit from the right for pardoning their favorite criminal ... and the only lesson the republicans really learned from watergate is that the only thing that matters is winning and party unity and screw anything else, including the country
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Condolences to his children and wife, Betty Ford, outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, women's rights activist, open and honest about having a mastectomy at a time when it was shameful to talk about such things, as well as facing her alcoholism and opening her eponymous Center.

Truly, Betty Ford is a giant among current and former First Ladies. Only Eleanor Roosevelt is in that league.
posted by psmealey at 6:31 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


those who live in the past aren't living in the present
posted by pyramid termite at 7:29 AM EST on December 27


And those who do not study and learn from the past are doomed to failure.

It is not as if we are dwelling on the past, we are taking the opportunity afforded by his death to reflect upon Ford's actions. This is as good a time as any to discuss the proper boundaries of the Presidency especially since the current President is interested in stretching those boundaries far beyond their traditional limits.

We live in a Democracy. If need be, the rules by which we are governed can be changed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:37 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


In the end, we all die as individuals in front of an overwhelming, incomprehensible Unknown that makes all of our actions seem less than dust swirled in the sunlight. Ex presidents are no exception. So, to be counter to this mostly futile discussion I say:

.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:43 AM on December 27, 2006


and the only lesson the republicans really learned from watergate is that the only thing that matters is winning and party unity and screw anything else, including the country

I'll agree with that. The point I was trying to make (but edited beyond recognition) was that the powers that be knew that they'd take a short term hit for the pardon, but ultimately it would save the GOP from the longer term damage that a real impeachment trial would have exacted.

But yeah, unexpectedly, it opened the old guard to a much more precipitous attack than they ever expected.
posted by psmealey at 6:44 AM on December 27, 2006


He was the last President (of many) who was a Mason.
posted by MapGuy at 6:46 AM on December 27, 2006


those who live in the past aren't living in the present

Yo, yo. Jack Handey in the house, y'all!
posted by psmealey at 6:47 AM on December 27, 2006


Mapguy: Is that right? Do the Masons still keep the bible used for the presidential inaguration?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:48 AM on December 27, 2006


Mixed feelings about Ford so all he gets is a
,
posted by I Foody at 6:51 AM on December 27, 2006


Those idiots on CNN and elsewhere. The first thing they decided to tackle around midnight was a discussion of whether Ford was treated fairly in all the jokes about his clumsiness. What a bunch of putzes.
As far as the pardon--mixed feelings. I think that a trial of Nixon, as much as it was deserved, would have so riveted us and nothing else would have gotten done. Of course, not much got done anyway, so who knows?
I think he meant well and he was a decent, plainspoken guy. Give him credit for that.
posted by etaoin at 7:03 AM on December 27, 2006


Pardon, schmardon. The important question is, was he a Funky President?
posted by goetter at 7:08 AM on December 27, 2006


I Foody

"," means "I poop on you!"
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:11 AM on December 27, 2006


President Ford helped put integrity back into the presidency after the Resignation of Richard Nixon.


Hahahaha! Good one!

Wait, you were joking, weren't you?
posted by languagehat at 7:23 AM on December 27, 2006


Why, just this morning in the shower I was thinking to myself (get your mind out of the gutter) that these types of things always happen in threes.
"Yesterday it was *the* JB. Who will be next?" I thought.
Turns out Gerald Ford was second. Who will be third? Any wagers?


Brittanie,

Ford was actually the third, in terms of "important/influential historical figures," and James Brown was the 2nd:

Frank Stanton, "Frank Stanton; Pioneer and Longtime President of CBS" died on the 24th at 98.
Interesting guy, stood up against Nixon and helped establish journalist rights (conversely, was involved with the CBS blacklist in the 50's. later regretted it).
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:24 AM on December 27, 2006


What exactly does posting a "." for someone mean? RIP?
posted by Tambo at 7:26 AM on December 27, 2006


What exactly does posting a "." for someone mean? RIP?
posted by Tambo


More or less. It can also mean something like "words are usually really cheap but especially so in the face of death".
posted by Burhanistan at 7:29 AM on December 27, 2006


Because the only history that matters is that which occurred during my lifetime.

Whereas I, on the other hand, am terribly concerned over the ramifications of the Treaty of Tordesillas. ;o)
posted by pax digita at 7:31 AM on December 27, 2006


strickly from memory, so it may be incorrect:

agnew was indicted for criminal conspiracy, or bribary, or some criminal charge and resigned several months before nixons real troubles took hold.

in order to shield himself, (no chance of impeachment if no veep. not legally, but practically), nixon refused to name a new veep.

when the sh-t got really, really deep nixon discovered this backwoods no name puppet, gerald ford

it is only conjecture, but generally believed at the time, that ford was appointed with the understanding/agreement that he would assume the presidency when nixon resigned and grant him a pardon. this pardon was his payment for the short term presidency and a 'chance' of another term if elected later.

nixon resigned very soon after the appointment. the pardon came shortly after that.

ford was neither an innocent victim nor a fool. he was a power hungry politician and a tool of a corrupt president. he was willing to sell himself for a shot at the top. he gets no respect from me

(what made his wife a junkie?)

,
posted by altman at 7:52 AM on December 27, 2006


President Gerald Ford, Godfather of Soul.

Some of the seminal work he did with P-funk breathed new life into the genre.

(He was the cat with the pink afro.)
posted by Skygazer at 7:54 AM on December 27, 2006


Sangermaine: Apparently you don't recall the Clinton impeachment, and how it pretty much consumed the entire country for its duration. Imagine that, but 1000 times worse.

Pernicious nonsense.

Government workers still got paychecks. The FBI still investigated crimes. Prisoners were kept locked away and fed. Soldiers stayed at their posts. Judges held court proceedings.

In short, the government still functioned.

"Government" in the parliamentary sense did grind to a snail's pace, that's true. But all of the essential functions of the US Government were still performed.

So a few committee meetings didn't come off. On the whole, the government still worked.

And that's not even getting into the relative (de)merits of blowjobs versus illegal surveillance plus bribery plus who knows what else.

FWIW, my take on Ford is that he did what he thought was right and did it with some knowledge that it would hurt his career. I doubt he knew how much. I'm sure he could be a bastard, and I agree nigh-wholeheartedly with amberglow et al that the precedent of the Nixon pardon was a Very Bad Thing for America. Nevertheless, he seemed to do what he could to make the best of a presidency that started as lame-duck and just got worse, and he deserves credit for that. He was no Truman, but then who is.

This one's for Betty:

.
posted by lodurr at 7:55 AM on December 27, 2006


when the sh-t got really, really deep nixon discovered this backwoods no name puppet, gerald ford

excuse me? NOW, it's personal ... i will have you know that sw michigan, which grand rapids is a part of, is NOT the backwoods

(i know, you didn't think anyone from this area knew how to operate a computer or log into a webside ... idiot)
posted by pyramid termite at 7:57 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


website ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:58 AM on December 27, 2006


Ya know, metafilter hits the bottom when someone dies. Some of the comments here lead me to believe that WAY too many of you grew up viewing Beavis and Butthead as role models.

That said, Ford came into the job at a difficult time for our country, I believe he tried his best.

My condolences to his family.
posted by HuronBob at 8:03 AM on December 27, 2006


backwoods no name puppet

Hey, I was no fan of the guy either, but it doesn't help to make claims that are patently false. Ford was minority leader in the House for 8 years, served on the later controversial Warren Commission, and as others have pointed out, sought to have AJ William O. Douglas impeached for trivial and/or non-existent offenses and was a notorious prude:

Describing Douglas’ article, Ford stated, “The article itself is not pornographic, although it praises the lusty, lurid, and risqué along with the social protest of left-wing folk singers.” Ford also attacked Douglas for the article in Evergreen Magazine, which was infamous for its proximity to pictures of naked women.
posted by psmealey at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2006


Some of the comments here lead me to believe that WAY too many of you grew up viewing Beavis and Butthead as role models.
Hey, say what you want about Butthead, but Beavis was a caring soul.

Witness his summary of the time that they found a dead horse, and jumped on its stomach until poop shot out its behind:

"Heh heh heh - that was sad."
posted by Flunkie at 8:14 AM on December 27, 2006


Burhanistan: Yes and Yes. They kiss it too.
posted by MapGuy at 8:15 AM on December 27, 2006


The great reconciliator.

Well, this will be a big week here in Grand Rapids. I better go outside and sweep everything off and turn some lights on. Spose folks'll be comin over.

.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:16 AM on December 27, 2006


Also, he was the youngest Eagle Scout. At least, for a long time, anyway.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:18 AM on December 27, 2006


Ya know, metafilter hits the bottom when someone dies.

Ya know, I'll agree that death threads are not the most interesting feature of MeFi, but when is there a more appropriate time to discuss the legacy -- good or bad -- of a historical figure?

If you're looking for encomia, I would not expect to find them here. Particularly not on a one-link major news source FPP.
posted by psmealey at 8:24 AM on December 27, 2006


Not all Presidents use the Masonic bible the George used.

According to the Catholic News Service ironicly enough:

Records weren't kept to indicate whether other early presidents may have used the Washington Bible for their inaugurations, but four in the 20th century did: Warren G. Harding in 1921, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953; Jimmy Carter in 1977 and George H.W. Bush in 1989. President George W. Bush had hoped to use it for his first inauguration in 2001, but the damp weather that day put a crimp in the plans.

Records kept by the Architect of the Capitol suggest only one president in the 216 years since Washington was inaugurated did not take the oath of office with one hand on a Bible. Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, "affirmed"-- but did not "swear" -- his oath with one hand on a law book, instead of a Bible. Some historical records say Pierce did so because of a crisis of faith after his only remaining child, an 11-year-old boy, was killed in a train accident a few weeks before the inauguration.

The nation's only Catholic president to date, John F. Kennedy, used his family's Douay Version of the Bible. The 1850 edition was brought by his Fitzgerald ancestors from Ireland, according to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. That Bible, a massive tome now on display at the library, was kept current with records of family births through the time of Kennedy's presidency.
posted by MapGuy at 8:24 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Does anyone remember Ford's impact on Indonesia?
posted by bustmakeupleave at 8:31 AM on December 27, 2006


MapGuy: Interesting. Seems like Ford was kind of an echo of previous pre-WWII politicians in that regard. I'm certainly no expert on Masonic history, but it seems like they lost most of their influence in Washington, D.C. as WWII progressed. But their stamp still is seen in token events such as the presidential inauguration.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 AM on December 27, 2006


Does anyone remember Ford's impact on Indonesia?
posted by bustmakeupleave


Ford did what most presidents would've done then...continue the same policy of supporting Suharto established in the early 60s.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on December 27, 2006


Ford's pardon of Nixon was a small but key step in the criminalization of the office of the Presidency.

While I believe that all or nearly all Presidents have committed some illegal acts during their terms, the fact remains that we have today a criminal President who believes that he is above the law: and his Administration is a direct, lineal descendant of the Nixon Administration.

No ".".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:42 AM on December 27, 2006


i didn't agree with the pardon at the time, either, but soon saw that the country managed to move on from it, that little real hurt was done

Say wha?

pyramind termite, I disagree with your statement that "little real hurt was done". The position of President of the USA had, until then, been one of reasoned trust and a fair amount of reverence. Nixon's criminal behavior, his many betrayals of trust hurt a lot of people. Nixon was rightly perceived as corrupt and his being pardoned by Ford was a kind of condoning of that corruption, simply because it was the President being pardoned. In not being held accountable but pre-emptively pardoned, the role of President then became a kind of false shell to be protected, rather than something justly worthy and authentic.

To some damaging extent I think people in the USA post-Watergate gave up thinking any President could be trusted in any logical way as a politician and then started foolishly choosing candidates more on their charisma or superficial public persona.

I think the hurt Watergate incurred was so great that the betrayal created a kind of ongoing national despair about politics that has come down the decades until today. The social impact of Watergate was a sort of learned helplessness in which people now think the President and almost always get away with whatever they want without impugnity and that our votes, in a country that is supposedly a democracy, have no meaning.

That kind of despair has meant that the corrupt politicians, brought into power under Ford have not been appropriately challenged -or held accountable- by the people at large. Ford's namby pamby camouflage covered the reality that a rat left power being pardoned and pit vipers came into power. I hope at some point, for a majority of Americans, it will once again mean something to vote for a President.
posted by nickyskye at 8:45 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


ps or what lupus_yonderboy said.
posted by nickyskye at 8:47 AM on December 27, 2006


The Ford administration had a much greater impact than most people think -- it launched the careers of two guys who've since left their own mark on the world, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. It's doubtful that either would have risen to the ranks they've since reached without first having been selected for cabinet posts under Ford.
posted by clevershark at 8:54 AM on December 27, 2006


I disagree with your statement that "little real hurt was done". The position of President of the USA had, until then, been one of reasoned trust and a fair amount of reverence

I think the opposite. I think that whoever or whatever convinced us in the first place to trust the person sitting in the Oval Office inflicted the "hurt" and anything that caused us to grow more suspicious helped.
posted by Clay201 at 8:56 AM on December 27, 2006


*people now think the President and people in positions of great power almost always get away with whatever they want without impugnity
posted by nickyskye at 9:00 AM on December 27, 2006


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:10 AM on December 27, 2006


President of the USA had, until then, been one of reasoned trust and a fair amount of reverence.

really? ... as in "hey, hey, lbj, how many kids did you kill today?"

Nixon was rightly perceived as corrupt and his being pardoned by Ford was a kind of condoning of that corruption, simply because it was the President being pardoned.

it was a recognition that the price of prosecuting that corruption was far greater than the price of letting one person avoid the legal system ... in spite of the fact there was objective evidence against nixon, any trial he had to go through would have become politicized and that politicization is something that would have weakened us considerably

and it's never a good idea to create political martyrs ... which a few people STILL regard nixon as

that and i still want to know where you would find an impartial jury

ford didn't do this for nixon's benefit ... he did it because he believed it was the best thing for the country ... which was his job to do as president

i believe that history has proven him right

I think the hurt Watergate incurred was so great that the betrayal created a kind of ongoing national despair about politics that has come down the decades until today.

that national despair was already establishing itself ... and it wasn't just the disgrace of a president, although that was a significant factor ... it was also the failure of our foreign and trade policy to give us continued cheap oil ... it was the failure of 60s social programs to actually fix what was wrong with the country ... it was the failure of our social institutions to live up to their reputations and their self-proclaimed rules ... and in my neck of the woods, more than anything else, it was the fact that in my senior high school year, my classmates were talking about getting jobs at the local factories and the very next year, 1976, those factories were being shut down or weren't hiring any more

you have NO idea what that was like for people of my generation ... nixon was a small part of what we suffered through and a small part of what went wrong with america in the 70s

That kind of despair has meant that the corrupt politicians, brought into power under Ford have not been appropriately challenged -or held accountable- by the people at large.

the people at large are corrupt (or a good part of them) ... that is why they keep electing corrupt people to represent them

you can't blame it on ford ... blame it on the people who brought and have kept them in power ... blame it on US
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on December 27, 2006


I didn't read carefully through all of the above, but I don't think anyone mentioned his enduring *liberal* legacy, the nomination to the Supreme Court of John Paul Stevens. If for nothing else, for this he deserves lots of dots.
posted by found missing at 9:16 AM on December 27, 2006


pyramid, don't you see that holding Nixon accountable would have helped ameliorate the mistrust and suspicion? Instead, it's grown like a cancer since then. Thru Reagan and Iran-Contra, Bill and Monica (which is chickenshit compared), to our current "war".

Instead of healing anything, Ford made it all worse by pardoning the criminal. He went against the whole country, including the GOP.
posted by amberglow at 9:19 AM on December 27, 2006


What was shocking then (Nixon) is now normal and expected, and people don't even believe that it's worth holding any of them accountable anymore--back then that wasn't so.

And we're stuck in an endlessly repeating and escalating spiral of crime from Nixon to Reagan to Bush. God only knows what happens to us with the next one.
posted by amberglow at 9:23 AM on December 27, 2006


As far as Presidents go Ford was pretty good in my book. Pardoning Nixon was stupid but didn't really matter. Ford was right to tell NYC to drop dead.

Plus he was a moderate, esp by modern standards, and was friendly with Homer Simpson.
posted by aerotive at 9:30 AM on December 27, 2006


pyramid, don't you see that holding Nixon accountable would have helped ameliorate the mistrust and suspicion?

no, it wouldn't have ... any more than 4 years of carter did ... or 8 years of clinton did, for that matter

you seem to have this peculiar idea that nixon, the republicans and watergate were the only reasons for mistrust

forgetting lbj and the vietnam war ... forgetting ted kennedy and his little car accident and the way that was covered up ... forgetting that even when there were some we thought were trustworthy, some lunatic would shoot them dead

those were days we learned to mistrust ourselves ... and still do

it's impossible to realize or explain unless you lived through it ... but you can't blame much of it on nixon or ford
posted by pyramid termite at 9:32 AM on December 27, 2006


posted by clevershark The Ford administration had a much greater impact than most people think -- it launched the careers of two guys who've since left their own mark on the world, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. It's doubtful that either would have risen to the ranks they've since reached without first having been selected for cabinet posts under Ford.

Ford didn't launch their careers, Nixon did. Nixon appointed Cheney in 1969; Rumsfeld was already involved with politics when he joined Nixon's cabinet in 1969.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:38 AM on December 27, 2006


Clay201, Healthy skepticism is an essential aspect of clear thinking. Blind faith and malignant optimism suck. But no trust at all is basically living in ongoing paranoia. Reasoned trust, earned trust is part of sane human relations.

pyramid termite, all Presidents had, until Nixon, been reviled for good and bad reasons by any number of people. But the role of President itself was considered by the majority, who voted him in, one of attempting to work for the people, not merely for his own narcissistic needs.

it was a recognition that the price of prosecuting that corruption was far greater than the price of letting one person avoid the legal system ...

I disagree and think it was a way to brush the ugly Watergate mess under the premature forgiveness/pardoning carpet.

you have NO idea what that was like for people of my generation

I am one of your generation, lol, and yes, I do have an idea.

nixon was a small part of what we suffered through and a small part of what went wrong with america in the 70s

I agree with you there but think Ford's pardoning Nixon and his making Bush Sr. head of the CIA, bringing Rumsfeld and Cheney into even greater power than they had before had a deep and bad impact.

the people at large are corrupt (or a good part of them) ... that is why they keep electing corrupt people to represent them

Your cynicism sounds to me like it was shaped in part by the aftermath of Watergate and Ford's pardoning Nixon.

I think people are flawed, not all good or all bad and that they are capable of great good when they strive for that, including Presidents. The US Constitution is a document that speaks to that capacity, although it was written by flawed but good men.

I put the blame on the passivity that comes out of despair. I'm hopeful that the internet has been and will be a forum in which people can become better educated, motivated, make more informed decisions and and from there take reasoned action.

ps have to leave for work and can't respond further until later but thanks for the stimulating discussion!
posted by nickyskye at 9:41 AM on December 27, 2006


Burhanistan: 13 Presidents in all have been Masons. In the 106th congress there were only 11 in the Senate and 22 in the house. Not sure what it looks like after the latest election.
Arizona
Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Jr. (R)
California
Rep. Bill Thomas (R)
Florida
Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R)
Illinois
Rep. John Porter (R)
Indiana
Rep. Dan Burton (R)
Rep. Stephen Buyer (R)
Iowa
Senator Charles Grassley (R)
Louisiana
Rep. Richard Baker (R)
Michigan
Rep. Nick Smith (R)
Mississippi
Senator Trent Lott (R)
Missouri
Rep. Ike Skelton (D)
Montana
Senator Conrad Burns (R)
Nevada
Senator Richard Bryan (D)
New Hampshire
Rep. Charles Bass (R)
New York
Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R)
Senator Charles Schumer (D)
North Carolina
Senator Jesse Helms (R)
Rep. Howard Coble (R)
Ohio
Rep. Paul Gillmor (R)
Rep. David Hobson (R)
Pennsylvania
Rep. Bud Shuster (R)
South Carolina
Senator Ernest Hollings (D)
Senator Strom Thurmond (R)
Tennessee
Rep. John Tanner (D)
Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (R)
Texas
Rep. Ralph Hall (D)
Virginia
Rep. Owen Pickett (D)
Washington
Rep. George Nethercutt (R)
West Virginia
Senator Robert Byrd (D)
Rep. Nick Rahall (D)
Wisconsin
Rep. Thomas Petri (R)
Wyoming
Senator Michael Enzi (R)
Senator Craig Thomas (R)
posted by MapGuy at 9:44 AM on December 27, 2006


amberglow - have you forgotten the political climate outside the U.S. at the time of Nixon's pardon? The ink on the SALT I accord was still drying when the Watergate Scandal broke. A serious concern for the U.S. was Brezhnev. There was immense pressure on whether he'd acknowledge the final Helsinki Accords, let alone the Jackson-Vanik provision that would've enabled East Bloc Jews to emmigrate safely out of Russia (that one, of course, failed miserably).

The infighting within the States, if permitted to continue, would've threatened to derail the more pressing concerns on the World Stage; it doesn't make it right, but noone ever said statehood would be a cakewalk.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:47 AM on December 27, 2006


Hey, he gave Nelson Rockefeller a shot at the White house.
posted by hortense at 9:59 AM on December 27, 2006


Your cynicism sounds to me like it was shaped in part by the aftermath of Watergate and Ford's pardoning Nixon.

if i said it about one election, you'd be right to call it cynicism ... but as the aftermath of this speech proved, the american people would rather be bullshitted than be told the truth ... (not that mr carter was capable of fixing any of this, but ...)

since then, they elected the great comm^H^H^Hbullshitter twice ... his lapdog once ... a slick and conniving compromiser who actually didn't change anything twice ... and then, the lapdog's idiot son twice ... by the second time lapdog jr got elected, it's really hard to argue for the wisdom and insight of the american people

more like denial and willingness to be gulled ...

maybe not for one election or two ... but over a generation, we DO get the government we deserve
posted by pyramid termite at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2006


But no trust at all is basically living in ongoing paranoia

Or, as I like to call it, staying alive.

Look, it's one thing to trust your girlfriend with your car or your best friend with the details of your sexual exploits. Maybe that sort of thing really is necessary for your sanity and happiness. It's quite another thing to trust someone with command of the most fearsome military the world has ever seen and access to the nuclear launch codes. In the latter case, I say there should be no trust at all except when solid evidence is presented that it's warranted. Since I've never seen any such evidence, I'll stick with my "paranoia." Besides, I find that when I suspect I'm being lied to or asked to support immoral policies under the pretense of advancing democracy and freedom, it usually turns out I'm right. My methods can't be completely wrong.
posted by Clay201 at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2006


Judging by the retrospective I saw on MSNBC earlier, this is the best thing to happen to Chevy Chase's career in years.
posted by brundlefly at 10:24 AM on December 27, 2006


.
posted by SteveTheRed at 10:28 AM on December 27, 2006


Most frequently overridden president. Evar.

That's what you get when you declare your president as virtual.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:07 AM on December 27, 2006


pyramid, LBJ didn't cling to power like a leech--he didn't run for re-election--he at least knew he had lost trust because of Vietnam. Compare to Nixon and afterwards. Compare them all lying to Ford about Nixon's innocence and compare Nixon lying to all about not resigning until it was clear he'd be either impeached or convicted or both. Compare to Nixon's men going right to jail as he, who ordered it all, stayed free and rich.

There was a massive dropoff of trust--and it's in part because Nixon got away with it all. Call it delusion; call it naivete (which it wasn't); call it whatever you want--this proved to the whole country that they can get away with everything, and it was the beginning of IOKIYAR (we won't live to see the end of that).
posted by amberglow at 11:33 AM on December 27, 2006


Smart, there wasn't infighting in the States--the majority wanted impeachment and did not want Nixon pardoned. Just like this Bush now, Nixon united the country--against him.
posted by amberglow at 11:34 AM on December 27, 2006


Oh, I forgot to mention my favorite (possibly fictional) Ford anecdote from Alan Moore's Watchmen. In an interview, the fictional character Adrian Veidt relates an incident...

I heard about the banquet... and this is true, I promise... where one of the presidential aides spilled a glass of water over Vice-President Ford. The aide was incredibly apologetic, obviously, but Ford just smiled and said "Oh, that's okay. Nobody's human."

Moore, of course, is fond of working real events into his fiction (Watchmen contains references to the JFK assasination, Woodward and Berntstein, and the murder of Kitty Genovese, just to mention a few examples off the top of my head). Is it possible that Moore got this anecdote from a real world source? Google turns up nothing useful.
posted by Clay201 at 11:39 AM on December 27, 2006


Ford is the first president I remember, because of the 1976 election. My parents argued a lot, because my mom planned to vote for Carter, and my dad was voting for Ford. He was angry because her vote would cancel his out, so he felt she should abstain, or vote for Ford. She laughed it off when he first brought it up, but he was serious, and they argued about it from September until election day. She voted for Carter, and he pouted for months.
posted by owhydididoit at 11:49 AM on December 27, 2006


It is a sign of the insanity of the times that that many are looking back at Ford as an example of nonpartisanship. I don't view him as the worst of our politicians by any means, but he is certainly no example of outstanding virtue. That we view him as basically good and benign is a sad commentary on our expectations.

you people who are still grinding your axes against him for the nixon pardon need to get professional help.
... this might be easier if all the nixon zombies intent on avenging the injustices done to Nixon weren't still wreaking havoc with our government and media today. When we have driven a big fat stake in the hearts of all the Nixonistas, I may be willing to let sleeping dogs lie.

those who live in the past aren't living in the present
...if only it were the past - cheney, bush, rumsfeld and many more from the Nixon legacy are all too nightmarishly present.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:49 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


By infighting, I meant the time spent arranging for the actual impeachment. Given the amount of drag time it takes for hearings, Ford figured Washington couldn't afford the extra weeks to lick its wounds. It was an overly optimistic assumption on his part, but he was trying to see things from the vantage of a superpower.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:00 PM on December 27, 2006


Mapguy: Thanks for the info. I was under the mistaken assumption that almost every prez up until Ike was a Mason.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:01 PM on December 27, 2006


pyramid, LBJ didn't cling to power like a leech

neither did nixon ... not after they'd both had a ton of salt dumped on them

i may be mistaken, but i believe that lbj was the first president who decided not to run for re-election, even though he was eligible (by law or tradition) ... (if he wasn't, it was quite some time back)

his party fell apart on him and after it finished him off, turned on one another ... with splinter parties and tear gas

meanwhile, a certain saying was common that one should never "trust anyone over 30" ... and many people in the cities were showing their trust of the government by burning their neighborhoods down while others were getting the hell out to suburbia as quickly as they could

this was all before nixon became president ... and it all speaks of a real lack of trust, doesn't it?

it started with the democrats ... and THEN the republicans drove it into the ground

When we have driven a big fat stake in the hearts of all the Nixonistas, I may be willing to let sleeping dogs lie.

and i thought republicans who jabber on about clinton or swift boaters who libel kerry were irrelevant

fine, put a big fat stake in all of them ... and then wake the hell up and realize that it's the 21st century and our current problems aren't really being debated but evaded by people whose political views ossified in 1970-something
posted by pyramid termite at 12:07 PM on December 27, 2006


All this over Gerald Ford? Man, I can't wait for the Margaret Thatcher death thread.
posted by Cyrano at 12:13 PM on December 27, 2006


Swine flu fiasco
posted by Tube at 12:29 PM on December 27, 2006


Man, I can't wait for the Margaret Thatcher death thread.

Me neither—Stand down Margaret!
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on December 27, 2006


Cyrano, you reminded me of a great anecdote: back around '86, a friend of mine did a video shoot at the UN building. When he had finished up, he capped his camera and got into an elevator. Inside, he saw someone smoking, and on instinct, patted his own jacket for a cigarette. Realizing his last one was gone, he decided to bum a light off the smoker, a rather distinguished, albeit heavyset fellow. The man turned, and in a thick accent, replied, "Vy, certainly", and handed over a Nat Sherman. My friend remarked that he'd never seen that brand before, to which the other fellow remarked that they were quite good, and my friend could have the rest of the pack, with his compliments. The elevator stopped, and the man departed, smiling.

Everyone else stared at my friend, their faces frozen with shock and awe. My friend remarked how the man seemed like a nice guy for being so generous and openly friendly. As the elevator reached the lobby once, someone half-whispered, "Do you know who that was?" My friend responded by saying, "I just met him. I figured he works here." The other individual nearly barked, "That was Henry Kissinger!"

My friend paused, puffed on his cigarette, and before the elevator doors could open again, asked, "So who's Henry Kissinger?"
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:41 PM on December 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


Smart Dalek, it's funny: smoking in elevators was made illegal in New York in 1975. I supposed it's conceivable that the UN building has some diplomatic exemption to the ban or that Kissinger felt free to ignore it, but it would surprise me that your friend expected to be able to smoke 11 years later even if he saw someone else doing it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:51 PM on December 27, 2006


The UN Bldgs aren't part of the City, officially...they're some kind of diplomatic space, like the cars with diplomat plates that can do what they want.
posted by amberglow at 1:02 PM on December 27, 2006


Chevy Chase recalls Ford as ‘a terrific guy’
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on December 27, 2006


Gerald Ford's Legacy and the Bush Administration's Roots in the Ford White House
posted by homunculus at 1:38 PM on December 27, 2006


It is pitch black in the Watergate Hotel. You are likely to be eaten by agnew.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on December 27, 2006


Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that ‘I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.’ ” - Hunter S. Thompson
...But the tradition of slapping haloes on dead people calls for a little perspective when they’re also public officials who did/enabled horrible things. Helping Nixon and Kissinger cover up what led to the slaughter of millions in Cambodia is no small thing, and should be weighed against the image of a genial bumbler as played by Chevy Chase.
Oh, and by the way, could we stop calling him “the only unelected president”? He’s not.

posted by amberglow at 3:27 PM on December 27, 2006


... Up until Ford, all of the presidents of my lifetime had been larger-than-life tragic figures from the doomed American Royalty of John F. Kennedy to that Texas-sized cowboy caricature Lyndon Johnson followed by the Double-Nutty Evil Ripple of Richard M. Nixon. After living through all of that, America needed a break and there was Gerald Ford, the bookmark president acting as a placeholder while we caught our breath and began to think about what type of country we wanted to be again. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:30 PM on December 27, 2006


like the cars with diplomat plates that can do what they want.

Not that we set any positive example for our NATO cousins...
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:34 PM on December 27, 2006


Wow....remember a time when the President was ran out of office for only breaking and entering? Today you can bend and break the constitution and spy on innocent americans.

Today you can be the principal deputy director of National Intelligence with the Office of National Intelligence, General Michael Hayden and not know the definition of the 4th amendment.

I can see why he Pardoned Nixon, but the better question is would he Pardon Bush? Signing statements and all?
posted by PreteFunkEra at 3:43 PM on December 27, 2006


.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:17 PM on December 27, 2006


Anyone else notice that after Ford was president he moved to California and stayed as far away from Grand Rapids as he could ?
posted by rfs at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2006


If only we had someone as rational and congenial as Gerry Ford as president for the last 6 years....

But pardoning Tricky was ... unpardonable.
posted by Twang at 5:03 PM on December 27, 2006


amberglow asked "show me one other presidential pardon ever given to someone pre-emptively like this."
amberglow, you don't have to go back very far. bill clinton pardoned marc rich while he was still a federal fugitive on the lam overseas.
posted by bruce at 5:10 PM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, this will be a big week here in Grand Rapids. I better go outside and sweep everything off and turn some lights on. Spose folks'll be comin over.

yah, that piece of shit dubyuh is coming. and for that, ford can rot in palm springs as far as i'm concerned.
posted by quonsar at 5:14 PM on December 27, 2006


Judging by the retrospective I saw on MSNBC earlier, this is the best thing to happen to Chevy Chase's career in years.

Sad, but true ... Some years from now, we'll be able to say the same thing about Dana Carvey.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:16 PM on December 27, 2006


without impugnity? yikes, that's what I get for writing in a rush. With impunity is what I meant. Sorry.

amberglow, enjoyed your comments. Nicely said.
posted by nickyskye at 5:37 PM on December 27, 2006


I've been ambivalent about this since hearing the news but I have to admit that despite his political flaws, I think Ford was a good man.

.
posted by effwerd at 5:46 PM on December 27, 2006


I'm late to the thread, but can we please stop with the "Nixon opened China" bs? Deng opend China, Deng. Nixon only met with Mao (during the height of the purges of the Cultural Revolution) to play off the Russians and start tri-lateral diplomacy, he was no white knight opening the doors to the Fobidden City with a wave of a ping-pong paddle.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:47 PM on December 27, 2006


This is the president that faced two assassination attempts during his presidency, occurring within three weeks of each other. in 1975.
posted by Afreemind2007 at 10:39 PM on December 27, 2006


Late to this thread , but there was interesting stuff on yesterdays Democracy Now!
posted by wheelieman at 5:50 AM on December 28, 2006


and don't forget Squeaky Fromme

It's more likely that we've forgotten the other would-be assassin, and the foiler of her attack.
posted by intermod at 6:18 AM on December 28, 2006


thanks for that intermod--i had no idea about Sipple.


...Ford played the classic role of the Republican Moderate: he enabled the wingers, in two ways:
1. Ford “bound the wound” of the Nixon administration without disinfecting it. The result thirty years on? The still-swelling bag of pus that is the Bush administration.
The thirty-year Republican project to replace Constitutional government with authoritarian rule started with Nixon, continued with Reagan [, Bush I got away clean,] and culminates with Bush II. Each time the authoritarian wave washed further up the beach. By not thoroughly repudiating Nixon, Ford enabled the next Republican wave.
2. Ford picked the players. Or do you think it’s an accident that Bush’s two main henchmen, Cheney and Rumsfeld, were both Chiefs of Staff under Ford?
And say… Has anyone noticed yet how all the Ford coverage about “healing division” is totally playing into today’s master narrative of Centrist Moderation? ...

posted by amberglow at 7:12 AM on December 28, 2006


thanks, wheelie--that Robert Parry thing is exactly right.
posted by amberglow at 7:22 AM on December 28, 2006


... Four years later the Reagan administration picked up right where Nixon's had left off, and got caught. Other select insiders made the decision not to pursue Reagan....So by the time Clinton took office the public was ready to believe that all of the country's leaders are corrupt and pay no price for it. The conservatives had an opening to demand that a President finally be held to account. It's the old Seeing the Forest Rule: Republicans accuse others of what they are in fact doing themselves. They accused Clinton of everything, but the investigations found nothing. They impeached him anyway. Now the public understood just who the rules were for and not for. After what Nixon, Reagan and Bush1 had gotten away with, Clinton didn't even have to break any rules, yet he was impeached.
And so here we are. Bush2 can do anything with impunity - and says so with a smirk. His cronies loot, lie and steal. The public and especially the Washington insider class are conditioned to accept that this is the way things are done. All partly tracable back to Ford's subversion of accountability. A mistake. A big one. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:49 AM on December 28, 2006


.
posted by konolia at 8:21 AM on December 28, 2006


10 Antidotes To Gerald Ford Eulogy Overkill...--4) The Republicans who now defend Ford's decision to pardon Nixon - all bleat the party line that Nixon had suffered enough and that endless trials and legal proceedings would continue to divide the country. The pardon was a way for the nation to "move on". ...
Yet those are the exact same Republicans who refused to allow Bill Clinton to "move on" with a censure. Bill Clinton - whose only "crime" had been getting caught in a technical fib about a personal indiscretion and who apologized repeatedly for it - was hounded and persecuted by these self-same Republicans who wanted their 200 pounds of flesh in a legal trial in the Senate. But the pardon for Nixon - who never even conceded guilt - let alone apologized - was and is considered to have been a healing gesture. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:49 AM on December 28, 2006


Any article that feels the need to point out who's a Republican IN BIG BOLD LETTERS is probably partisan crap.

FTA: "Bill Clinton - whose only "crime" had been getting caught in a technical fib about a personal indiscretion"

His crime was pergury. That's not a technical fib. I voted for the man twice, but the use of "dislaimer quotes" in that article is disgusting.
posted by Cyrano at 11:10 AM on December 28, 2006


I think pergury is something you do when you have an eating disorder.
posted by found missing at 11:17 AM on December 28, 2006


Yet the only reason that people like Condi Rice (perjury over PDB), Clarence Thomas (perjury over ever having discussed Roe V. Wade), Rehnquist (perjury over authorship of racist memo), Mike "Brownie" Brown (perjury over Louisiana governor's request), Alberto Gonzales (perjury over status of wireless surveillance) never came to trial is because of the vagaries of who controls such hearings. Seems lame to pound Clinton over a frivolous personal matter, yet let these scumbags slide on matters directly impacting the welfare of the country just because their party shielded them from prosecution by dint of their former majority status. I might also toss in people like Reagan, who blustered his way out of perjury with endless "I don't recalls", or even Chency and Bush, who never took oaths when they testified because they knew they were going to lie.

Kinda puts it in perspective, eh?
posted by RavinDave at 11:36 AM on December 28, 2006


Here's how to have it both ways in Washington while avoiding your civic duty: Turn your back on your professional responsibility when it might take some guts, but make sure a story comes out later that demonstrates how right you were all along. Am I referring to Bob Woodward, who suppressed an interview for two years that might have changed the course of history?
Or do I mean Gerald Ford, who wants to be remembered well now that he's gone?
I mean both. ...

posted by amberglow at 1:45 PM on December 28, 2006


wonderful HerBlock thing from the time, including this little nugget among many other golden ones: ... The Gerald Ford -- who, at the hearings on his confirmation to be Vice President, had said that "the public wouldn't stand for" a possible Nixon pardon, and who only days earlier had said clemency would be reserved while the law went forward -- this Gerald Ford now suddenly issued an irrevocable pardon to his predecessor for all offenses -- known and unknown.

It was as if he regarded offenses against the public as none of the public's business. In judging that Nixon had "suffered enough," he punished still further an already suffering nation....

posted by amberglow at 1:51 PM on December 28, 2006


you mentioned perjury, Cyrano?
posted by amberglow at 1:53 PM on December 28, 2006


RavinDave, I'm not lacking in perspective at all, and wouldn't quibble with most of the instances you mention.

We all know politicians lie. And yet we still have them. Kinda says more about us than them, doesn't it? (except they are us, and then the circle goes round and round and round...)

I took issue to the reference to Clinton's very public and obvious lie as "a technical fib."

It was a lie. Period. And on the grand scale of politcal lies it was a minor one. But it was still a lie.

The journey of a thousand miles towards the broken trust that got us where we are today surely has a few steps made by Ford, but to relegate a few of those steps along the way to a "technical fib" is pretty egregious.

you mentioned perjury, Cyrano?

I did. (Althought I spelled it wrong.) But I don't believe changing one's mind falls under that legal definition. Or do you think Ford was given the Watergate Tapes on a Walkman to listen to while he was replacing Agnew?
posted by Cyrano at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2006


Ford says his friendship with Nixon played a role in the pardon.
posted by The Deej at 7:55 AM on December 29, 2006


..for many years after leaving office in 1977, he carried in his wallet a scrap of a 1915 Supreme Court ruling. A pardon, the excerpt said, “carries an imputation of guilt,” and acceptance of a pardon is “a confession of it.”
posted by found missing at 10:03 AM on December 29, 2006


I can't belive we have to deal with 5 days of this mourning Ford tripe. That time was fucking horrible. Inner cities destroyed and devoid of jobs. Industries and manufacturing leaving the country. Rotting infrastructure. Drug use etc.... and the guy did basically tell NYC to drop dead. He had no allegiance to the Northeast. He was a dyed in the wool, GOP aparatchik. Period. Okay, I'm sure he was also a sweet well mannered mid-westerner and all that shite, but all that hokem about healing the nation is Garbage. As someone pointed out upstream it put a band-aid on a festering sore that just turned into a pus filled tumor, by the time we got to Clinton and the GOP was hungry for blood and vengence (they still are). If Ford had really cared about this nation (rather than his standing in the GOP, even though he killed his chances at being president) he wouldn't've pardoned Nixon, he would've made sure that the root of the evil was found out and tried and jailed and legistlation was put in place and the whole nine yards and yeah it would've been painful for the country, (of course spending millions on a Clinton witch hunt wasn't destructive), but at least it would be a step in the healthy direction just like setting a broken bone or cauterizing a wound will hurt like hell, but be the beginning of getting better and healing. The real reason Ford could not allow the prosecution of Nixon to go forward was that the GOP as a party would've been D-E-A-D, and exposed for the corrupt big business (military-industrial, big oil) controlled organization it had become. So Ford took one for the team. He had NO choice in that. He would've been killed if he didn't. And he had to incubate the evil incompetence of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. And look where we are now. It is directly traceable to Nixon and Ford through Dick and Cheney (and their lower henchman). It's important the history books reflect that.

So it's pathetic. Ford was not much better than Harding or Hoover. He was a cipher. A placeholder in history. He should not be held up as an exemplar of public service he should be held up as being part of an administration whose methods were a complete corruption of the consititution (the document every President swears to uphold and protect) and was hairsbreadth away from being a dicatatorship.
posted by Skygazer at 10:04 AM on December 29, 2006


...or Hoover.

At least Hoover did interesting stuff before and after. Terrible president, though.
posted by lodurr at 10:06 AM on December 29, 2006


after reading the latest Woodward thing--Ford really was just a lying sack of shit to all of us. A lying sack of shit in general.

He didn't pardon because of the nation or "heal the nation's wounds"--he just helped his criminal crony. Bush 1 did the same with Iran-Contra, and no one even cared by that point, after Ford's blatant disregard for the law and for the nation.

From Ford's pardon speech--and all lies: ...I deeply believe in equal justice for all Americans, whatever their station or former station. The law, whether human or divine, is no respecter of persons; but the law is a respecter of reality.
...
But it is not the ultimate fate of Richard Nixon that most concerns me, though surely it deeply troubles every decent and every compassionate person. My concern is the immediate future of this great country. ...

posted by amberglow at 10:55 AM on December 29, 2006


Ford was not much better than Harding

the irony of mentioning harding in a thread that accuses ford of starting republican corruption in the white house is delicious

unless one of his boy scout badges was for presidential corruption ...
posted by pyramid termite at 11:04 AM on December 29, 2006


Tom Brokaw announced Ford's death in 1996.

Excellent groovy photo of President Ford, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:03 PM on December 29, 2006


Cheney must still have been on his first heart back then, no? (and not feeding on the blood of innocent Iraqis and sweet sweet crude oil for sustenance)
posted by amberglow at 2:18 PM on December 29, 2006


... the Babbitt of Grand Rapids ...
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on December 29, 2006


Woo hoo, day off with pay Tuesday. I love you, Jerry!
posted by fixedgear at 4:01 AM on December 30, 2006


Gerald Goddamned Ford "saved us from...a nation where Richard Nixon went to jail or committed suicide, a nation where politicians would have to face real legal consequences for their actions, a nation where politicians are responsible for the people under them, and to the people who voted for them."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:25 PM on December 30, 2006


who's going to save us from a country where people whine about things for 32 years?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:03 PM on December 30, 2006


Hitch: How President Ford managed to go soft on Iraqi Baathists, Indonesian fascists, Soviet Communists, and the shah … in just two years.
posted by homunculus at 1:01 PM on January 1, 2007


who's going to save us from a country where people whine about things for 32 years?

Huh? 32 years? Man, that's nothing. What, you wanna suggest some kind of statute of limitations on historical political commentary? What would be acceptable? 10 years? 5? Week before last? 32 years is really not such a long time. Now, you want to see where they're looking way back? OK, maybe Serbia, where they're still hot under the collar about stuff that happened 800 years ago. But 32 years? That's yesterday.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:37 AM on January 2, 2007


who's going to save us from a country where people whine about things for 32 years?

Yeah, it's not like there aren't still millions of whites who whine about the Civil War and Civil Rights (oops--"state's rights"), right?
posted by amberglow at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2007


amberglow, you don't consider them to be terribly relevant ... why should conservatives consider you and the blogosphere's plaintive laments about nixon being pardoned relevant?

the bottom line here is that we WON ... we got rid of the bastard, he had to leave office with his tail between his legs, we convinced the average american that he was a bad actor and the country was better off without him or his party ... (at least until the democrats who were elected in 76 were shown to be ineffective)

(in fact let's just admit something here ... if carter had been a good president we wouldn't have had the following years of republican corruption, so to place blame on ford's pardon alone is to point out the mote in his eye while ignoring the beam in one's own)

but it's not enough for you that we WON ... no, we needed more public spectacle, more bitter debate, more reams of newsprint and hours of tv time dedicated to crucifying a man who had already been hounded out of public life and shamed ... make no mistake, amberglow ... you would have made nixon a martyr to the right wing and guaranteed that the sort of bitter partisanship we've seen in the last 10 years would have come even earlier

but that's what you want, isn't it?

you're a partisan ... and all your whining about the pardoning of a now dead man by another man who is now also dead is senseless, outdated and in spite of your tortured claims of cause and effect, totally irrelevant to the america we now live in

most people know that ... and most people will marginalize you as a meaningless partisan hack if you keep arguing like this

it's 2006 ... if you're not where and when you're at, baby, you're nowhere
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on January 2, 2007


if you refuse to see the relevance of Ford and Nixon's acts to today's leaders and what they do, and what they get away with, which is what all this is about, then i'm sorry. The actions then are directly impacting and setting the stage for the coming excuses of actions today.

It's not partisan to believe that no one is above the law--that's in fact the partisan GOP position--It's Ok If You're A Republican. Nixon himself believed to his death that nothing was against the law if the president did it. Compare to today's Unitary Executive policies.
posted by amberglow at 9:30 AM on January 2, 2007



if you refuse to see the relevance of Ford and Nixon's acts to today's leaders and what they do, and what they get away with, which is what all this is about, then i'm sorry.


if you refuse to see that political corruption is not a creation of nixon or the republican party and does not depend on their example or his pardon, then you're ignoring history

not to mention the congressional scandals of the last year, some of which involved democrats ...

It's not partisan to believe that no one is above the law

pardons are a part of the law, therefore nixon was not placed above the law

that's in fact the partisan GOP position

unless you're a democrat who's lying about a blow job

It's Ok If You're A Republican.

which is why when the democrats may have stolen the election of 1960, there was silence ... but when the republicans stole it in 2000, watch out ...

Nixon himself believed to his death that nothing was against the law if the president did it.

several democratic presidents have come close to that belief ... it's a temptation of the position

Compare to today's Unitary Executive policies.

that's a legal argument, not a violation of the law ... in other words, it's not against the law until someone takes it to court and a court rules that it is

by the way ... haven't the democrats taken it to court yet? ... or are they just waiting for THEIR turn to have their own unitary executive?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:53 AM on January 2, 2007


you speak like that, but call me a partisan? hysterical.
posted by amberglow at 10:02 AM on January 2, 2007


nice try, but i voted a straight democratic ticket last year ... hysterical, indeed
posted by pyramid termite at 10:07 AM on January 2, 2007


From a slate article opining against the pardon, speaking to my earlier assertion that there was no way, even without a pardon, that you would have seen Nixon in a criminal court, let alone in jail.

If Ford hadn't issued the pardon, would Nixon have stood trial, or perhaps even been sent to jail? If so, his successors might have learned the valuable lesson that presidents are not above the law.

But odds are that no prosecution would have taken place. In a Dec. 28 editorial, the Wall Street Journal stated that Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski "seemed determined to pursue" a criminal trial. The precise opposite is true. By his own account, Jaworski was reluctant to pursue prosecutorial alternatives to impeachment. James Cannon's 1994 book Time and Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment With History quotes Jaworski saying, "I knew in my own mind that if an indictment were returned and the court asked me if I believed Nixon could receive a prompt, fair trial as guaranteed by the Constitution, I would have replied in the negative."

In a Dec. 29 op-ed in the Washington Post, Jaworski's former employee, Richard Ben-Veniste—yet another person who changed his mind and now thinks Ford was right to pardon Nixon—writes that Jaworski was "of the view that Nixon's precipitous fall from the highest office was punishment enough." Even if Jaworski had been talked into indicting Nixon, the prosecution's constitutionality—at best, uncertain—would have been a matter for the courts to decide, and the judiciary tends to err on the side of caution when considering separation of powers. That probably helps explain why President Bill Clinton was never indicted for perjury, even after congressional efforts to remove him from office failed.

posted by loquax at 10:43 AM on January 2, 2007


but there would also have been a civil trial-- or something like that--the Democratic party would not have let it go, even if Democratic Congresspeople would have--the odds are not that no prosecution would have taken place--the headquarters had been broken into--a clear and evident and admitted crime. The actual prosecutions of the other people involved would have greatly strengthened any case against Nixon himself too.
posted by amberglow at 1:33 PM on January 3, 2007


the Democratic party would not have let it go, even if Democratic Congresspeople would have

Doubtful. This was 1973, not 2003 or even 1993. The ultra-divisive political culture that's been a reality in America since the mid-Reagan years wasn't entrenched at that time, and even a fair number of Dems were genuine social conservatives. And a lot of Dems had been big fans of Nixon -- remember the "Democrats for Nixon"? (OTOH, a lot of Conservatives loathed him. I commmented to my father once about him supporting Nixon, and he swiftly corrected me: "Nobody [in the local Conservative Party] ever trusted him any farther than I could throw him. But he was better than McGovern."*)

I was only about 9 when all this was going down, sure, but I was a pretty alert 9 year old. I read Mad, and spent two sick-weeks doing little else but watching the hearings on TV. My parents were politically active. And I remember being fascinated by the whole thing. I don't seriously think Nixon would have been allowed to be sued (I just don't think people were that creative about civil law in those days, you may have counterexamples and I'm happy to hear them), and I think that given the atmostphere of shame and flagellation (some self, some not), there was a great willingness to shove as much as possible under the rug.

I agree with you that the nation would have survived just fine, thank you, and would in many ways have been healthier. But it's kind of like the good-looking, wealthy middle aged guy who cheats on his wife and then decides it's just simpler "for everybody" (well, for him, ok?) to get a divorce than to deal with the twin threats of an aging wife and knowledge that HE SCREWED UP.

People like my parents elected that Nixon creep [heh-heh, cute acronym, guys!] as a political compromise (much as they would later back Al D'Amato for the Senate), despite their idealistic motivations ("it's all for the cause!"), and look where it got them: The SOB turned out to be a politician, after all. How dare him. Easier (for them, ok?) to just push him into a closet until he stopped sobbing.
posted by lodurr at 12:50 PM on January 4, 2007


--
*They did dearly love Reagan, though...

posted by lodurr at 12:51 PM on January 4, 2007


i was fascinated with it too--watched it also, and it was the first time i paid attention to politics at all--we're about the same age.

I don't believe they would have let it go--a whole new crop of Good Government Dems was elected to Congress specifically because of this whole thing, and the whole country was angry--much angrier than now with Bush (and Bush's done much much worse).
posted by amberglow at 3:43 PM on January 4, 2007


Angrier than with Bush? Maybe. May be. But give it time.
posted by lodurr at 2:22 AM on January 5, 2007


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