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« Eric | Main | Conduit and content »

Dec 29, 2006

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Ishmael

Whatever the reason, it turned out to be the best for the country.
Retribution just distracts everyone from the business at hand: to keep the country moving in a positive direction. From what I have been hearing, that was Ford's focus, and it is a lesson that could serve future presidents.

Lex

You've gotta be kidding me.

Ford just confessed to cronyism and you're arguing that this is somehow "best for the country"?

One of our national myths -- "myths" not in the sense of fabrications, but in the sense of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves to define our national identity and/or national aspirations -- is that no one is above the law. (Indeed, during the Clinton years the Republican Congress repeated this myth as if it were a mantra.) The validity of this myth ought not rest on the simple question of whether a president's vice president thinks of him as a good friend rather than a horse's ass.

I campaigned for Ford in '76, but I'm not stupid: With this revelation, Ford's historical standing, already ambiguous, has taken a hit from which it will not recover.

j. neas

I'm with Lex. Even if Ford's decision was made completely with the American people in mind, it was the wrong one. We've withstood scandal after scandal in this country and when they are held in the light, it's a positive thing. It shows we are willing to examine our own foibles and exercise them.

By pardoning Nixon, Ford was able to set a standard which operated at least into the 1980s with the Iran/Contra pardons being the most eggregious potential result of this new way of thinking.

Of course considering the thirst for blood that went unslaked during the Clinton impeachment, maybe it wasn't such a permanent thing afterall.

Patrick

I know that in the near aftermath of President Ford's death the conventional wisdom has adopted his own spin that the pardon delivered the nation from its long nightmare, but come on. The pardon was political and partisan. I don't have a problem in general with politics or partisanship, even the partisan use of the pardon, but we should call things what they are and acknowledge that actions have consequences. In 1976, the voters made the judgment that the pardon was partisan and that it was wrong (and that the economy was a wreck), and they denied Ford an elected presidency. So be it.

The suspicion that Nixon and Ford had cut a deal for the pardon was also widely held back then. I'm automatically dubious of conspiracy theories (saying the pardon was partisan is not the same thing as saying they made a deal in advance), but Ford's comments to Woodward, especially the part about being the only one Nixon could trust, come close to lending that one some credence.

RB

"Ford just confessed to cronyism"

Lex has nailed it. Thank you, Lex, your points are a light on the fundamental problems in our political system.

I never had much of an opinion of the Ford presidency, but the pardon always hit me wrong - at a gut level.

Bubba

Ah yes, historical revisionism at its best.

Isn't funny how they all love Woodward......when it suits their purpose?

So the new conventional wisdom here is that Nixon should have been prosecuted?

In what way would that have been helpful to move the country forward?

Patrick

Whether it would have been helpful or not to "move the country forward" is only part of the question. The Nazis and fascists cited here recently in another context were famously effective at making the trains run on time. Efficiency is not the highest value in human governance. What was at risk in the Nixon affair was whether we are a nation of laws or of men. I don't think it's clear cut one way or the other, because it was a very risky time, but the pardon gave a lot of naysayers legitimate fodder for arguing that the laws are subservient to the men. So the prosecution would have been "helpful" by demonstrating that no man in America is above the law. Unfortunately, perhaps, we don't get to play history with alternative strategies, so I don't know which was better, and neither does anyone else, including the late president. I do think, however, that our country is strong, because people in general are strong and because we are blessed with a set of spectacularly resilient institutions. Sure, a Nixon trial would have been trying, but we might have been strengthened more by adhering to our basic principles than by just dodging the bullet.

Fec Stench

Jeepers, Bubba. Lex always rides herd on enforcement.

You've really got to get a more informed opinion.

Lex

Speaking strictly for myself, Bubba, I opposed the pardon at the time and have continued to oppose it since. That said, I don't condemn anyone for thinking that it was OK to do if it would help bring a fractured country back together; I just didn't think then that there was a whole lot of reason to think that would happen. Thirty years of hindsight haven't changed that position.

I stopped taking Woodward seriously when he started expecting us to believe that Bill Casey told him anything significant on his deathbed. Which, if you'll recall, was the primary selling point for his book "Veil" almost 20 years ago.

As for your main question, I'll answer that in a post over at my place.

Bubba

"You've really got to get a more informed opinion."

Compared to Lex?

Like his opinion of the now discredited and always phony Rove/Plamegate Scandal?

Yeah, he really rode herd on THAT one, especially after I busted him for denying what he said.

Why don't YOU answer the question, Fec:

In what way would the prosecution of Nixon been helpful move the country forward?

I noticed neither Patrick or Lex answered the question. Maybe you'll give it a try.

Fec Stench

I thought and still believe that our National psyche was injured and in need of healing. I thought Ford's decision heroic and the right thing to do at the time.

Was it injurious to his legacy? Absolutely.

And I meant a more informed opinion of Lex. Sorry for the confusion.

Bubba

You are right on target about the pardon.

Gerald Ford was a straight-shooter who made the decision based on what was best for the country, despite what those who are now slimeballing him based on the Woodward revelations would like you to believe.

How convenient for them.

The man is dead and cannot defend himself.

The lowlife slime artists have no shame or integrity.

It's historical revisionism at its worst.

Lex

Here's my post, Bubba. Tell me, why do you love criminals so?

Bubba

Alexander Haig, the man who knows more about the pardon than anyone else, said the cronyism charge regarding the pardon was pure bullshit.

He said so over the years, he said so recently in print, and to Schieffer and Couric on CBS live Saturday evening as they awaited the Presidential funeral procession's arrival at The Capitol.

Here are Haig's words (via Newsmax>/A>)"

Ford himself said so consistently over the years,as detailed here.

"Let me tell you, it's an insult to the president himself, to President Ford, to suggest that he would take a deal. The call that he had – and I made it – was that he was going to be the next president of the United States.

Why in heaven's name any rational man would risk it all by even listening to a deal is beyond me…

In addition to that, I saw the sworn testimony that he gave. I read it before he gave it to the Judiciary Committee, the only president to have ever done so. And he firmly denied any deal.

So I think you hear what you want to hear when you want to hear it."

Also, there's this (from the Newsmax link):

"But Haig got support from Thomas DeFrank, Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News, who covered Ford's presidency.

Said DeFrank: "For the last 17 years I have been going out to Colorado and California to interview President Ford, off the record, at least for the moment … And he has said there was no deal, period."


I don't care what that you want to make of a passage in a Woodward interview with a sick, frail elderly gentleman who was possibly not as mentally sharp as he could be.

You are, as usual, wrong. You (and Woodward and others) have committed a particularly egregious libel on Gerald Ford's reputation.

And of course, you just don't care.

That's your stock in trade.

Percy Walker


I don't get it, Lex. Earlier in this thread you say, "I stopped taking Woodward seriously when he started expecting us to believe that Bill Casey told him anything significant on his deathbed," but now you take a statement by a 90-something year-old, devoid of context and recalled solely by Woodward and conclude on your blog: "what we have here is a forthright confession of cronyism, an admission that he put loyalty to a friend above the best interests of the country."

I think you are being unfair.

Billy The Blogging Poet

Bubba,
I can answer your question: If Nixon had faced prosecuition and sentencing way back when then the Republican Party that controled both houses during the Clinton era would have had balls enough to throw Clinton out before his term ended. Fact is: neither side wants to set that precident and the nation suffers to this day with corrupt politicans on both sides of the fence.

Cleaning house in 1976 or in 1998 would have raised the bar and America and the world would have been a better place today.

Lex

Bubba, as I said before, I don't put particular stock in Woodward, per se. But am I willing to take Ford's own words above those of Al Haig? In a New York minute.

And I've never said or implied there was any deal. In fact, up until Ford's last confessional, I've been willing to accept his explanation for the pardon, even if I didn't think it was the right thing to do and would not achieve the goal he said it would.

But, you know, don't let the facts get in your way.

Bubba

You never let a chance to take a good cheap shot, do you Lex?

Why am I not surprised?

Bubba

Insert "get away" after "chance" in the last post.

Ed Cone

Percy, it was not a statement "devoid of context and recalled solely by Woodward," it was part of a four-hour, tape recorded interview.

Bubba

"And I've never said or implied there was any deal."

From your blog post:

"As I said earlier in a comment over at Ed’s place, what we have here is a forthright confession of cronyism, an admission that he put loyalty to a friend above the best interests of the country. Implicit in this statement is that he knew letting Nixon face prosecution was the right thing to do. Instead, he consciously chose the wrong thing and lied about his reasons for doing so."

No implication of a deal in those words, is there?

Perhaps you have a different interpretation of the word "cronyism" than the rest of us do, especially in the context of the Nixon pardon.

Bubba

Here's the transcript from last Sunday's Face The Nation. Pay attention to the passages from the very end of pg. 4 through pg. 7.

Haig, DeFrank, and and James Cannon all agree: There was no "deal".

But that doesn't stop people like Lex from saying (in his blog piece):

"Ford’s knife didn’t kill it, but neither has it recovered. 'Permanent' is a long time, but that might well be how long the wound inflicted by Gerald Rudolph Ford lasts unless our body politic recovers enough to begin holding accountable those who do violence to the Constitution and the rule of law — and I mean completely accountable, right up against the brick wall with a blindfold and a last cigarette, if that’s where the facts and the law take us.

It’s too late to hold Gerald Ford accountable. But some of his demon spawn are still out there, still breaking the law, still daring us to do something about them."

No, you didn't insinuate anything, did you Lex?

It's just your character assassinator style.

Percy Walker


OK, so I may have been wrong about a few things, but I'm sticking to my contention that Ford was 90+.

Ed Cone

Ford pardoned Nixon.

The proximate and underlying causes for the pardon may be debatable. Deal or no deal, the tapes from the White House and the Woodward interview add some context to the debate.

The larger issue is the wisdom of the pardon, which is what Lex is addressing.

Bubba

"The larger issue is the wisdom of the pardon, which is what Lex is addressing."

With language like this?

"It’s too late to hold Gerald Ford accountable. But some of his demon spawn are still out there, still breaking the law, still daring us to do something about them."

No he's not. He's saying the Nixon pardon was a "deal". He's inflicting a massive slur upon the memory of Gerald Ford, in contradiction of all evidence to the contrary.

And you're enabling him.

Lex

Like his opinion of the now discredited and always phony Rove/Plamegate Scandal? Yeah, he really rode herd on THAT one, especially after I busted him for denying what he said.

Bubba, you accused me of *trashing* Rove for reporting what was in fact true: Rove admitted to having been Matt Cooper's source. Of course, sometimes the truth hurts so badly that if feels like a trashing.


Bubba, the comments you quote above do not constitute evidence of a "deal," which, in the history of the Ford-Nixon relationship, had a specific meaning: Nixon would appoint Ford VP with the understanding that Ford would pardon Nixon of all crimes when the time came.

It's historical revisionism at its worst.

Bubba, I do not think that phrase means what you think it means.

People's opinions about history change. History generally doesn't. The only thing we know now about Ford's pardon that we didn't know then was that Ford, by his own admission, was pardoning Nixon primarily because Nixon was a friend, not because he thought it was best for the country. (So what Al Haig thinks is pretty much irrelevant, now that Ford has spoken.) Reasonable people can debate the wisdom of taking that action for that reason. I opposed the pardon then and I continue to oppose it now. Whatever else you might want to call all of this, it is not historical revision.

No implication of a deal in those words, is there?

"Deal" also had a specific meaning in the context of the Ford-Nixon relationship: that Nixon would appoint Ford VP with the understanding that Ford would pardon him when and if the time came. I have no reason to think that kind of explicit deal ever existed, although I'm open to new evidence.

If you want to characterize the motivation Ford himself gave, the arrangement he described, as a "deal," that's fine, I guess. I called it cronyism and I stand by that description. If you want to call my characterization a cheap shot, I shall lose no sleep over it.

It's just your character assassinator style.

No, it's me exercising my right as a citizen to level fact-based criticism at officials of my government. If you have a problem with the concept, I hear Uzbekistan is hiring.

No, you didn't insinuate anything, did you Lex?

No, Bubba, I didn't insinuate a damn thing. I came out here and said it in so many words, right out in public, under my own name.

You should try that sometime.

Bubba

You said what you said about both Rove and Ford, and your usual responses won't fly.

The words are a matter of public record, and they don't reflect well on you personally or professionally.

However, that's nothing new there. It happens almost every time you sit at a keyboard.

Once again, we are not surprised.


Lex

Yes, Bubba, my words are a matter of public record. I stand by them, right out here in public. The opinion of a pseudonymous troll means nothing in comparison. That's reality; deal. We're done here.

Bubba

Sure Lex.

Whatever you say.

(snicker)

Kirk D.

What? No "Bark bark bark! Woof woof!"????? Bubba, you're slipping.

Bubba

Kirk can't get anything right, can he?

Why are we not surprised?

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