Wednesday, December 27, 2006



Basically there's nothing in Ken's timely coverage of the passing of Jerry Ford I disagree with. I knew DWT should say something about it and I was delighted to wake up this morning and see he had and that I didn't have to. What does bother me though, is the Mary Poppins TV coverage I've seen today. In fact, it's all so patently fake and full of crap that it makes me want to throw up. Hat tip to Atrios this morning for pointing out the September 23, 1974 Time cover story on the anger generated by Ford's precipitate pardon of Nixon.

We have to think carefully about the role of pardons since this is going to be a very big deal as more and more Republican elected officials and operatives are exposed for their gross criminal behavior over the last 6 years, possibly even the nitwit-in-chief himself. Reading the 32 year old Time story helps one understand how the DC Establishment rallies round its own and covers for even the worst examples of treason against our Nation.

Throughout the most painful week of Gerald Ford's fledgling presidency, public protest continued to batter the White House. Far from easing after the first shock of Ford's precipitate pardon of Richard Nixon for any and all federal crimes committed during his presidency, the controversy grew. It was fed partly by Ford's refusal to explain further his mysterious reversal on his Executive intervention, partly by White House fumbling on whether all the other Watergate offenders might also be pardoned. Ford's inexperienced aides-- almost all of whom had opposed the timing of the pardon-- were left scrambling futilely to justify the President's action.

Squandered Trust. There was as yet no evidence that Ford's motives were other than high-minded and merciful. Indeed, some of the criticisms of his action were overwrought and hysterical. Suggestions that justice was dead in the U.S. or that Ford's Administration had been irrevocably compromised were exaggerations. Nevertheless, Ford's first major decision raised disturbing questions about his judgment and his leadership capabilities, and called into question his competence. He had apparently needlessly, even recklessly, squandered some of that precious public trust that is so vital to every President. By associating himself so personally with the welfare of his discredited predecessor, he had allowed himself to be tainted by Watergate-- a national scandal that the courts, prosecutors and Congress had labored so long and effectively to expose and resolve.

Thus, barely a month into his presidency, Gerald Ford found himself jeered by a crowd of pardon protesters outside a hotel in Pittsburgh, where he addressed a conference on urban transportation. They waved signs bearing such taunts as THE COUNTRY WON'T STAND FOR IT-- a mockery of Ford's declaration about a pardon for Nixon, which Ford made during the Senate hearings to confirm him as Vice President. In an otherwise pleasant outing to help dedicate a World Golf Hall of Fame in Pinehurst, N.C., Ford faced more banners: IS NIXON ABOVE THE LAW? and JAIL CROOKS, NOT RESISTERS.

Outside the White House, some 250 pickets from George Washington University lofted a bedsheet with the words PROMISE ME PARDON AND I'LL MAKE YOU PRESIDENT-- a reference to a widespread cynical suspicion that Nixon as President had exacted a pledge of a pardon from Ford before naming him Vice President and putting him in the line of succession.

That week Ford's Gallup rating dropped by 20 points. Judges, lawyers, political scientists and legal scholars felt the pardon was an arbitrary assault on the basic principles of Justice. "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.'"

Politically, the pardon revived Watergate as an issue, permanently ruined Ford's pubic persona dooming his chances for re-election, and generally helped Democrats and hurt Republicans. "Undermined, too, was the pleasant notion that Ford, a direct, uncomplicated Midwesterner who used to prepare his own breakfast, is wholly unlike those crafty politicians who maneuver for personal prestige and luxuries during careers on either coast. Columnist George Will thus notes the death of the 'English Muffin Theory of History... that a President who toasts his own English muffins for breakfast is somehow different from the general cut of politicians.' Was Ford just another devious politician? Particularly among the young, the answer was a disquietingly prevalent yes."

Bringing some reality to the orgy of fake national grieving led by ravings-hungry news networks and President Chimpy, was a note I got today from distinguished Law Professor Michael Froomkin: "The line I recall best about Ford while he was President was that if he happened to go outside the White House and found a cold child living on the street, Ford would literally give that child the shirt off his own back-- then go back into the White House and veto a child care bill."


Taylor Marsh and some of my other friends are far less forgiving than Ken. Jim summed it up even more colorfully in a letter he just wrote me:

Gerald Ford?

Selected by the GOP power brokers to be appointed Vice President so he could later pardon Richard Nixon.

Played too much football with his helmet off (LBJ).

Spare us the the 'mournful nation' bullshit.

Gerald Ford trivia question:

Q.Who were Gerald Ford's two Chiefs of Staff as president?

A. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.


At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it's all so patently fake and full of crap that it makes me want to throw up"

No fucking kidding. Having to listen to this crap immediately after the two month excesses of Christmas in America is as bad as the Pope dying immediately after the Schivo fiasco. (where we had nominally leftie blogs insisting that the Pope "loved us all". If that was love I think I would prefer to forgo it's excesses.)

Gerald Ford did not "heal" the nation when he pardoned Nixon. He allowed sociopathic monsters like Kissinger, Rumsfeld and Dick 'Dick' Cheney to destroy our country and grow wealthy in the process. The only thing Ford did well was marry a strong and decent woman.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

"Selected by the GOP power brokers to be appointed Vice President so he could later pardon Richard Nixon."

I'm sorry, but as far as I'm aware, there isn't a shred of evidence to back up a single word in this sentence fragment. I'm sorry to sound testy, but I don't see how making up history improves our understanding.


At 2:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim here.

I find it amusing that you accuse me of making up history, Kenny.

Are you claiming that Gerald Ford was not chosen to replace Spiro Agnew by Republican Party insiders? If so then who chose him? The voters? The Democrats? The Vice President Fairy?

As for Ford's pardoning of Nixon, might I suggest that you do a bit of research. Start by reading Bob Woodard's book "Shadow"

In it you will discover that Nixon's chief of staff, Alexander Haig, did in fact offer a deal to Ford. Haig entered Ford's office on August 1, 1974 while Ford was still Vice President and Nixon had yet to resign. Haig told Ford that there were three pardon options: (1) Nixon could pardon himself and resign, (2) Nixon could pardon his aides involved in Watergate and then resign, or (3) Nixon could agree to leave in return for an agreement that the new president would pardon him. After listing these options, Haig handed Ford various papers; one of these papers included a discussion of the president's legal authority to pardon and another sheet was a draft pardon form that only needed Ford's signature and Nixon's name to make it legal.

Let me know if I can assist you further in expanding "as far as YOU know."


At 11:34 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Yes, Jim, I am accusing you of making up history because you ARE. At the time Nixon--and not "Republican insiders"--chose Ford, whom we know he really didn't WANT (he wanted John Connally), he WAS GIVING ABSOLUTELY NO THOUGHT (repeat, ABSOLUTELY NO THOUGHT) to not serving out his term. Ford, remember, was appointed to replace the disgraced Spiro Agnew.

Nixon never for a second imagined that Ford might actually become president. And in fact, it was made clear to Ford in the discussions of his nomination as vice president that NIXON WOULD NOT SUPPORT HIM FOR A FULL TERM AS PRESIDENT in 1976. (Again, he intended to support Connally.)

The key to the choice of Ford was that Nixon needed SOMEONE CONFIRMABLE by the DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS. Of course Nixon TALKED to Republicans, just as he talked to Democrats, because the nominee was going to face confirmation by an OPPOSITION-controlled Congress.

You haven't offered a ghost of a shred of a hint of a pardon deal in the choice of Ford, or of the involvement of these mysterious "Republican insiders." As far as I know there isn't any (you don't even seem to realize that none of what you have to say about it has ANYTHING AT ALL with the appointment of Jerry Ford), and I'm not aware of anyone in possession of FACTS ever suggesting that there was.

I don't like it when right-wingers fabricate history, and I don't like it when our side does.


At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me something Kenny. How old were you when all of this was going on?

I was in my early 20s and just happened to be an undergrad studying political science at the time.

Your suggestion that Nixon made the choice himself would be like suggesting that Bush makes all the decisions we see coming out of the White House today. Ford was the perfect choice because he was seen as not too bright and easily led.

During his conformation hearings Ford was asked if he had considered pardoning Nixon and he replied that he didn't think the American people would stand for it. Then he turns around almost immediately and does just that.

Take some time and read the Woodward book I referenced in my earlier post and do try to get past you worship of the man who enabled G. H. Walker Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld as well as allowing Nixon to walk free with no admission of guilt.



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