Wednesday, December 27, 2006

one of the last of the good men

I've always had a soft spot for Gerald Ford.

In a world of political chaos and treachery, Ford strove to rise above the fray, protect the nation and never mind the expense to his own political career or ambitions. How many people would describe a call to the presidency as a duty? as a part of civic responsibility? GWB feels "called by God" and WJC worked for decades to reach the Oval Office but that's not the same thing.

Ford was one of the last of the good guys and a dog lover to boot. A very sincere RIP to a man who did a very hard job to the very best of his ability and certainly far better than I would have coped under a more generous set of historical events.

5 comments:

tommyspoon said...

Well... other than pardoning Nixon and giving Indonesia a green light to invade East Timor (resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 Timorese), I agree with you. My Sweetie pointed out to me today that he should be remembered for his role as Speaker of the House rather than as President.

He seemed like a nice, intelligent fellow. And his wife did much to help break down the social taboo of addiction. All in all, I'll take the Ford clan over the Bush clan any day of the week.

Jason266 said...

I find the pardoning of Nixon to be a positive aspect to Ford. I couldn't imagine what it would have done to the country if we had tried a criminal court case against our former head of state. Nixon was identified as having done something wrong, he owned up to it, he resigned, time to move on. And it cost Ford the '76 election, but he knew it would, but he did the right thing in my mind. RIP President Ford.

tommyspoon said...

I think the country would have handled the trial of Richard Nixon just fine. In fact, I would argue that a trial would have done more to heal this country than the pardon did. What Ford did was set one man above the law. I don't think that's right.

Alison said...

Tommyspoon,

The pardon makes Ford worse than any other US president how exactly? All but two presidents since 1789 have issued pardons (WH Harrison and Garfield didn't, but of course Garfield barely had time). Clinton issued 395 of them. Carter commuted Patty Hearst's sentence and gave clemency to Oscar Collazo (who attempted to assassinate Truman in 1950). Reagan commuted Gilber Dozier's sentence for extortion and racketeering, and pardoned George Steinbrenner after the Boss had pled guilty to making illegal campaign contribitions. Bush senior (who issued a relatively small 77 pardons), let off Caspar Weinberger and Edwin Cox.

I guess what I am saying is that, although Nixon is hardly a favorite of mine, and I'm not sure how comfy I am with the notion of the presidential pardon from the get-go, the Constitution says that "The President ... shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." If that applies to Steinbrenner and Collazo and Hearst and Dozier and Weinberger and Cox and all the others, then it applies to Nixon too.

tommyspoon said...

Alison,

I'm uncomfortable with Presidential Pardons, too. Clinton pardoned some drug dealer that really got my goat. But I wouldn't put Patty Hearst, Gilber Dozier and George Steinbrenner in the same league as Oscar Collazo, Caspar Weingerger and Edwin Cox. Or Richard Nixon for that matter.

I do think that there is a difference between an ordinary citizen breaking the law and a president breaking the law. Although, according to the Constitution, they both are desrving of equal protection. And I have no problem with that.

Ford blew a great opportunity to show the world that we are a nation of laws rather than a nation of men. He wanted to "heal the country" by pardoning Nixon, but the opposite happened. The country fell into a political malaise from which we have not fully recovered. Nixon should have had his day in court, instead he got off scott free.

Patty Hearst didn't harm the country the way that Nixon did. Now Steinbrenner on the other hand...