DESPITE THE MEDIA'S REVISION, FORD'S PARDON DID NOT HELP AMERICA, BUT ENABLED THE CRIMINALS
President Ford is in the ground so now the world can freely opine on one of the most unmomentous presidents in our history. That pundits were surprised at the lavish praise of the former President who caught enormous flak for quickly pardoning President Richard Nixon in 1974 only shows how the press and Washington insiders went out of their way to hint at his greatness.
An overwhelming majority of Americans were completely outraged when Ford announced a full pardon to Nixon in the midst of Watergate. His popularity dropped seemingly overnight in the polls from an approval rating of over 70 points to 30. When news of his death at 93 filtered throughout the country a generation of baby boomers now grappling with the evils of George W. Bush again ridiculed the unelected leader for his cowardice. Yet, if you read the newspapers or watch the Ford-a-thon on cable news, the masses were fed this newfangled revision of history that profusely praised Ford for doing, in hindsight(?), the right thing for the country.
My generation knows President Ford as Chevy Chase--a bumbling, uncoordinated nimcompoop. Instead, we were reminded that he was a great athlete at the University of Michigan and captained their undefeated seasons in 1932-33. Pictures of Ford comically sliding down the stairs of Air Force One and maintaining famously that the Soviet did not have a foothold in Eastern Europe didn't seem to fit the youthful linebacker and graceful congressional parliamentarian.
So, why this muddling of history? He was only President for 2 1/2 years whether he wanted the job or not. The reason lies with today's headlines made by former Ford adminstration lieutenants.
The revisionist history of Ford's presidency serves only Vice President Cheney and the neocon establishment. Ford did not save the country from a brutal criminal investigation of Nixon but only prolonged the misery up until this very day. The outrage in 1974 over granting a pardon to Nixon stemmed from the fact that the Tricky Dick nearly ruined the country yet escaped unscathed.
Ford's handling of his personal life and the addiction problems of his wife, Betty, are instructive in how he enabled this country political crooks then while they perpetrated the same sort of corruption in the Bush adminstration.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz all got their start in the Ford administration. During the neocons nascent period the lessons was learned that the Republic could be imperiled without any consequence to those who attempted to dismantled it for their own personal idealougies and financial gain.
If Ford would have run Nixon through the ringer, however excruciating it would have been, the country would have been stronger by it and more incline to read the political tea leaves when the bad guys returned to power in 2000.
President Ford may have been an excellent placeholder in presidential history, but the excessive mourning period was only afforded by his title and not by his political actions. The view of Ford today may be rosy, but when talk show pundits move on to the next big story, the real, less exciting and more critical view of post-Watergate America will rise to the surface.