December 29, 2006

From the cheap seats

Since I lack class and decorum, I’ll be the jerk to give a different take on Gerald Ford.

By pardoning Nixon, he stopped a much needed public debate to define appropriate presidential power, and the process to set clear legal standards by increasing transparency and accountability of all government. I don’t buy into the idea that Ford’s action healed a nation, stopped divisiveness, and restored confidence in our government. Considering what has transpired over the last 30 years, that pardon worked well, didn’t it?

Personally, I think the man was manipulated to pardon Nixon. With Cheney, Rumsfield, Greenspan, and Kissinger playing significant roles in his presidency, and with people like John Mitchell advising him the few years before he was elevated to Vice-President, Ford was probably constantly bombarded by a political ideology that cared little for moderation and bipartisanship.

The result of the bloodletting of the 1974 midterm election that saw vast numbers of Republicans voted out because of the pardon was a party purged of many who might have pushed back against the coming Glorious Reagan Revolution. No doubt, Reaganites wanted Nixon to be a faded memory by 1980. Having investigations that constantly kept Nixon and Republicans in the hot seat would have diminished Reagan and brought certain party operatives missed by Watergate out in the open. It would have halted the nascent neo-conservative movement.

Let’s not forget Ford’s conservative bona fides. He was a fierce partisan and protector of conservatism. He voted against public housing, the minimum wage, and repeal of the right-to-work law provision of the Taft-Hartley Act. He also led the failed effort to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. The reason? Because Douglas’s liberal leanings were an impeachable offense. He supported going into Laos and Cambodia, and the bombing of North Vietnam. Yes, he voted for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, but the handwriting was already on the wall. How would his western Michigan constituents have reacted to a representative labeled as a bigot and racist? His ramblings about how his vetoes of spending bills would improve the economy were baloney.

Ford knew and practiced hard ball politics. You don’t become House leader of your party by putting on ice cream socials. As for presidential campaigning, he used the same methods as Reagan, the current doofus, and others by staying the high road and letting his VP nominee attack his opponent. Bob Dole said as much.

Though I don’t believe that there was any deal between him and Nixon, I do believe he thought what he was doing was best for conservatism. Instead of restoring confidence, he made it acceptable to bury our heads in the sand.

But considering the douche that was voted president in 1980, Ford did come across as a caring man of reason.

Posted by Captain Kroc at December 29, 2006 08:23 PM

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Thank you for bringing a voice of reason to the discussions of Ford's presidency.

Posted by: jobsanger at December 30, 2006 12:52 PM

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