Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On the passing of Gerald Ford.

While everyone lionizes the 38th (and only UNELECTED) President, I am going to be slightly less praising of him.

To be sure, he was a nice guy, and, like the Rude Pundit says, Gerald Ford WASN'T bugfuck insane, something we haven't been able to say about a Republican President in a LONG time. He seemed average and unassuming, which are good qualities to have in a President, especially when you're succeeding the Worst President in History (remember, neither Reagan nor the Bushes had come along yet).

Yet, Gerald Ford (the man who would rather have been House Speaker) will always be judged for the fact that he pardoned Nixon. Most of the Beltway Blatherers laud Ford for "putting this behind us so the country could move forward."


The fact that Nixon never had to face an American jury is what allowed the Iran-Contra traitors to be pardoned by 41, and may allow 43, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld to avoid the war-crimes trials they so richly deserve. It set a horrible precedent, and deserves condemnation over 30 years after the fact. Would it have torn the country apart? Well, the response to that is this: how much more COULD it have been torn apart?

Steve Gilliard says this today about that:

1975 was a difficult year. The US military was dysfunctional, American society was shattered, there was a real question if the US could have survived the trial of Richard Nixon for his various crimes.

Once he had slunk off, to everyone's relief, there was no great appetite for punishment among Congress.

But, by pardoning Nixon, he helped save the GOP, by not exposing the criminal nature of that enterprise. It was allowed to reform as a right wing party, catering to small business and backwoods rednecks. The Dems never really pressed the advantage they could have had by exposing Nixon and his crimes.

Read the rest of it, it's terrific.

Also, think how much we could have avoided if Nixon had been tried and convicted:

No Reagan or EITHER Bush.

Perhaps the implosion of the Southern Strategy before it went any further than it did.

Folks, if there IS a God, Gerald Ford is doing a LOT of explaining right now.

UPDATE: Jeff has EVEN MORE that I had forgotten about at the Pesky Fly!


Richmond said...

To blame Gerald Ford for The Christmas pardons or Bill Clinton's idiotic pardon of Mark Rich or 43's possible pardons of his minions is to cast aspersions where none belong. It is BULLSHIT to do so. Gerald Ford responded to the country's needs, not his own, and in so doing--as even Ted Kennedy said in 2000 I believe--saved us a lot of unecessary, partisan-laden grief.
I was for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and was glad he won at the time, as I still remain to a certain degree now. I have said in the years since Reagan came to power that if we could have combined Ford and Carter, we would have had the type of President who could have provided unflinching moral strength with the political saavy to lead effectively. Are we so poisoned in our current political life that we cannot separate what has happened since the Pardon to its subsequent abuse (and that includes Bill Clinton)? Can we not even recognize that basic decency transcends political "winning?" Are we more interested in "winning elections" than in proper governance? I think we can remind Rude Pundits that the essence of democracy is working "across the aisle" and doing something for the American people, not our own version of K Street arrogance.

LeftWingCracker said...

Karl Rove loves that attitude as he shoves it down your throat.

have you not learned that basic decency does not exist in politics at this time.

Maybe, just MAYBE after we clean out our own party and theother party, we can think of that. If there were more Tom Guleffs in the Republican party, I could agree with you.

Do YOU see any?

We are SERIOUSLY poisoned, and it is not too difficult to see where it started. It may not have been what Gerry Ford intended, but, as both our fathers reminded us, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Richmond said...

Yet again, you miss the point. WE can be civil and political at the same time. Karl Rove thinks, as you seem to do, in bifurcated terms whose sole purposeis to achieve power and do with it what we will. Bill Clinton showed, I believe, that personal decency (or, as Molly Ivins said about him, "manners") is not a sign of weakness any more than politcal skill is necessarily an indication of strength. We can be both and we need to be if we are going to, as you say, "clean out our party." Actually, you may remember that I am no longer a Democrat strictly speaking, but an Independent. Most of my reasons can be found through the type of attitude that you express again tonight with your "I have the truth" denunications of President Ford. Our opposites will, upon the occasion of President Carter's passing and especially when President Clinton meets his maker, heap the same vitriol on them that you do on their predecessor.
What Ford intended and what, in fact happened as a result of the Pardon, was a time for our common country to heal. Largely through his supreme act of politcal and moral courage, we gained some measure of that hope. The Right's rise to power was not his doing except that his defeat--rooted in the Pardon--cleared the field for Reagan's run in 1980. Ronald Reagan's lunacy and what has transpired since (although I'd take his policies over what we've endured in the last 6 years) does not rest at the feet of President Ford. It rests in the minds of those who, like you wish for our side it seems, seek power for its own sake and only as a means to preserve it.

LeftWingCracker said...

I don't believe that civility is possible, or even DESIRABLE until the Republican party, as it is currently constituted, either finishes imploding or is destroyed from outside.

We are fighting WEREWOLVES, friend, so it's time to stock up on silver bullets, because as long as they are able to draw a political breath, they will seek to destroy us.

It's time to face reality.

TN420 said...

Richmond said:
"with your "I have the truth" denunications of President Ford"

What did LWC write that's factually incorrect?
Ford may have been a regular Joe (for a Repiglikan), but he had no excuse for pardoning those traitors. Other than party loyalty, that is.

Heal the country? How much do you want to bet that Monkey Boy Bush says the exact same line of Dick Cheney bullshit when his pardons come up?

No one's elated in the demise of Ford. I feel for his family as does LWC, but it doesn't mean we have to stop addressing the facts we were addressing before he died.
And believe me we won't.

I'm afraid we're just not going to satisfied with the House and Senate. We want it all. :)

No GOP, no DLC.
Wearwolves? Goddamn right they are., and this is war. The gloves came off when Diebold stepped in and we're not ever putting them back on again.

Sharon Cobb said...

I don't say this to be snarky, but the fact is James Brown, who also died this week, did more for American politics and culture than Ford ever did.
I hate that the farewelll to Brown at the Apollo and other well deserved tributes to him are getting lost in non stop Gerald Ford coverage, which is already getting so redundant because he didn't do anything significant as President except pardon Nixon. And I agree with LWC, it set a dangerous example for future criminal administrations.

SgtLarry said...

If Ford hadn't pardoned Nixon then Reagan wouldn't have become president??? HUH? That's huge leap in logic.

If Ford hadn't pardoned Nixon, he might have won his election and Carter wouldn't have been president. (Carter, IMO, was the absolute worse president of the 20th century.)

I know you're going to hate hearing this. It's wasn't the pardon that saved the GOP, it was the combination of a true conservative leader ... Ronald Reagan ... and an incompetent Jimmy Carter, which saved the GOP.

A similar situation could happen as early as '08. Bush is not a conservative. Most of the new democrats who won this year were very moderate and often to right of the their republicans opponents. A lot of the conservative base stayed home. So the GOP has a chance to quickly return to power.

Personally, I don't think we'll see much change over the next two years just because the democrat wing of the republocrats won.

I'll probably be voting 3rd party again in '08.

Richmond said...

Sgt. Larry is mostly right, especially in questioning your logic. That being said, I think most of the Democrats who won in November are a mixed bag ideologically, making each of you a bit off in your generalizations. How many of this or that slant, however, isn't the point.
You once again, LWC, mention "we" as in "we want it all." Who exactly are "we?" What is it that "we" want? Once "we" have "it," what do "we" want to do with "it?" How do you know that "Monkey Boy Bush" will actually pardon Cheney, Rumsfeld or any of his other minions? Are they under indictment a la Caspar Weinberger or Eliott Abrams? Have you developed the capability to read minds? Then to somehow blame Gerlad Ford--without, once again, mentioning Bill Clinton's pardon of Mark Rich which contorted his actions on behalf of evidently several people who deserved pardons or commutations--for what "MBB" does on January 19 and 20, 2009 is incomprehensible and rooted seemingly only in an animus of righteousness.
Your facts, LWC, are not the problem in the post. The conslusions you draw and the rhetoric underneath, however, most certainly are. The Republicans, at least those running their machinery, may not be civil and we left wing types need to meet them on that ground trusting that our ideas will win in the end. Even as we meet them mano a mano, however, we must not put label them as "werewolves" (Frankenstein might have been more fun) or "not human" or "anti-intellectual." Name-calling is not going to help "us" win and acheive whatever "it" is "we" want.

SgtLarry said...

I agree with Richmond. Civility would go a long way to getting things done. When one side or the other resorts to bashing, then it causes the opposition to dig its heels in.

It may relieve frustration, but it builds walls.

Being a 3rd party guy, I work with both sides. I can disagree civilly.

autoegocrat said...

I may be late to this campfire, but I have a few things to add to the pile.

In his 2004 interview with Carl Bernstein's former colleague, Ford acknowledged that he pardoned Nixon for personal reasons as much as anything.

Gerald Ford himself once remarked to a friend while playing golf that he was going to Hell for pardoning Nixon. There is nothing we can say about him that's worse than what he said about himself.

Richmond said...

"Personal reasons" can mean almost anything. They indicate to me the vein of Ford's inherent decency rather than some type of understood, wink, wink Machiavellian "deal" or "arrangment" or other sort of falderol to which we have become so accustomed post-Florida recount. None of my fellow liberals who have gotten in on these exchnages, however, have said one red word about Bill Clinton and Mark Rich. Wherewith our outrage?

LeftWingCracker said...

What about clinton and mark Rich? Sure, it's something i would rather he not have done, but it certainly did not have the effect that Ford's pardon of Nixon did.

Got any other strawmen?

Richmond said...

President Clinton's pardon of Mark Rich, as I mentioned in previous postings to our never-ending contest of wills, tainted many of his other pardons for (a good many black) folks who had been stuck in jail for non-violent drug offenses. In other words, Mr. Strawman, the media picked up on what they portrayed as yet another example of Clinton-sleaze and economically-based favoritism rather than perhaps beginning to ask necessary questions about our drug policies, prison system (read Joel Dyer's book) and how, as you might surmise my train of thought here, race as well as class warps who does and does not ends up in prison most of the time.
President Ford, in short, did the right thing and President Clinton made his doing of similar rightness more complicated than it needed to be.

LeftWingCracker said...

"the media picked up on what they portrayed"

That's it in a nutshell. there is NOTHING Clinton could have done that the press would have liked so that ANYTHING he did would have been attacked, like the Rich pardon was attacked.

Clinton could have healed the leper and the lame and the media would have claimed he was trying to create socialized medicine.

Look, let me simplify this for you:

We are good, they are evil; what else do you need to know?

Richmond said...

Simplification may work for a blog, but it does not lead to good public policy or any sense of human community, the notion that we "liberals" claim so piously to desire. Calling an entire group of people "evil" is so ludicrous as to be laughable. Human beings of any stripe do not have the right--or "left"--to label themselves as "good" or "evil" without qualfication. We "liberals" are not "good" to the exclusion of our myriad sins, one of which is the tendency to promote ourselves as inherently better than conservatives or Republicans or even fundamentalist Baptists that I love to use for whipping posts when I feel like it. We "liberals," conversely, are not "evil" either, even as Karl Rove or Ken Mehlman may try to portray "us."
By trying to "simplify" public discussions, of course, all you accomplish is to come across as simplistic, stereotypical and unwilling to abide by the complexity that we "liberals" claim to cherish. Ambiguity is the lot we humans--all of us--face, whether we like it or not. Claims to absolutism, as Reinhold Niebuhr reminds us, are expressions of idolatry and innocence whose consequences are monstrous in their immensity.

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