Friday, January 05, 2007

Gerald Ford revisted

Both Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive take issue with the conventional wisdom that Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon brought healing to the country after the "national nightmare" of Watergate. In Gerald Ford, Unsentimentally, Rothschild writes:

"The pardon short-circuited the necessary prosecution of Nixon, which would have served as a salutary check on future inhabitants of the Oval Office. Instead, the pardon set a precedent for such flagrant lawbreakers as we have in the White House today.

"If impeachment of Bush and Cheney may be just a remote possibility, prosecution and incarceration remain inconceivable. And so Bush and Cheney, thanks to Ford, can float comfortably above the law."

At the time, I had mixed feelings about the pardon. While I was eager to see Nixon held accountable, I'd grown weary of the scandals, and the endless coverage thereof, that had dominated the news for the last year or more. I was ready to move on, as was the rest of the country, and now we're paying the price.

For me, Gerald Ford's finest moment came at the beginning of a 1976 Saturday Night Live show when, aping the familiar opening lines of Chevy Chase's newscast, he looked into the camera and said: "I'm Gerald Ford, and you're not." He's still the only president who ever appeared on that program, which is arguably to his credit.

GRAPHIC: Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (date unknown).

No comments: