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The Real Ford Legacy: Queens of Denial

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As America rewrites history and whitewashes the very brief administration of Gerald Ford, those of you who weren't alive or adult during the Ford months may be unaware of the fact that this accidental president's legacy was not at all — as the media and pundits are now suggesting — a return to normalcy and civility.

That is unless you believe that hosing the blood off the streets of Baghdad is also a return to normalcy and civility rather than an act of consummate denial.

The current President lauds Ford as a truly moral and decent man who "healed" a nation that had been torn apart by Watergate. Bush admiring Ford is like a dog licking the hand that feeds him.

The real Ford legacy — which no mainstream reporter, politician or pundit has the honesty or courage to publicly admit — was that he was Richard Nixon's GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card. Gerald Ford set an onerous legal and constitutional precedent, placing presidents above criminal law — something from which George W. Bush has benefited greatly. Nixon's resignation and Ford's subsequent ascension provided the one and only way out, a presidential pardon, allowing Nixon to avoid trial and prison.

The Nixon pardon did enduring and serious damage to our nation of laws. In the name of "stability" Ford struck a blow to the stability of our democracy, the sanctity of our constitution and the principle of freedom. He did not heal this nation as many now say; rather he enabled and elevated denial and avoidance. Rather than go through the necessary and responsible process of expunging our demons, Ford allowed us to bury our collective head in the sand.

Of course Bush applauds Ford. Ford's legacy provides a precedent for Bush's own GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card. And Nancy Pelosi, behaving as a true Washington politician rather than a responsible elected representative who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, turns her back on the impeachment process — because the Ford legacy allows her to pretend that it's the right thing to do.

In the meantime, justice was not served in 1974, the year of the Nixon pardon, nor is it being served now in 2006. Nixon was placed above the law and now the same is happening with Bush. And in both cases the American people, the Constitution, and our democracy are denied the rightful and healthy remedy to crimes committed by a President, leaving us weakened, broken, and much less of a nation than our founding fathers imagined we would be.

Again, the Ford legacy is not healing, stability, and civility; the Ford legacy is institutionalized denial and a constitutional democracy that is much less than it was before the Nixon years.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." — Mid-18th century America, often attributed to Ben Franklin but provenance uncertain.

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About Ricky

  • Arch Conservative

    Hey Dick

    i’m just curious what you think people should say Clinton’s legacy is when he dies.

  • First of all, my name is Richard. Secondly, when Clinton dies, I’ll let you know. But at least Clinton made us smile.

  • Arch Conservative

    Clinton may have made you smile Dick but he never made me smile.

    The only reason I mentioned Clinton is because I find it funny that people like you and Realist are attacking the integrity of Gerald Ford but when slick Willie dies you’ll probably be praising his integrity.

    You have a problem with Ford pardoning Nixon that’s fine but what else did Ford do as president that pissed you off so much that you’re on here denigrating his character days after his death? Surely there’s more to your animosity toward the man than the Nixon pardon.

    And if pardons bother you so much I am sure you you are just as mad at Bill Clinton who pardoned hundreds of criminals, including terrorists, to repay political favors during his last weeks in office ….right Dick?

  • jackpublic

    What, exactly, was the crimes that Bush committed? Lemme guess…being a republican right? pfft.

  • As I said, my name is Richard. And I won’t engage in a dialogue with rude and vulgar individuals. You’re neither funny enough nor mature enough to be worth the effort.

  • Clavos

    The Clinton pardon that really rankles with me is that of the aptly named Marc Rich, whose current net worth, according to Forbes is $1.5 billion.

  • Clavos: I agree with you. In fact, the practice of presidential pardons has been abused and corrupted beyond belief by both parties. It should be used in extraordinary circumstances and in the service of justice and morality. It’s sad that so many Americans have checked their brains at the door and can only debate on the basis of name-calling rather than think through the real issues intelligently. Our extremely lazy habit of resorting to the idiocy of labels like Republican,Democrat, liberal, conervative, etc. will be the end of us. What Ford did was wrong and it has nothing to do with his party affiliation.

  • If you want to express your irrational hatred for Bush – yet again – why use Ford’s death as a pretext for it?

    The two really couldn’t be more unconnected – by all accounts Ford though very poorly of Bush. And despite your ridiculous assertions Bush certainly hasn’t done anything of a Nixonian scale to require a ‘get out of jail free card’.


  • Bush could feast on human flesh and a certain percentage of Americans would stand up and cheer. Anyone in this country who still thinks Bush isn’t guilty of crimes against humanity and impeachable violations of his oath of office to uphold the constitution is beyond reasonable discussion and living in some alternative universe.

  • Bliffle

    The Bush/Ford connection is sometimes cited as Cheney/Rumsfeld.

    While Ford probably did not make a deal for the vice-presidency, he was probably chosen by Nixon and his handlers because of his predisposition to pardon.

    Withal, the Nixon administration was terrible. Many of us had high hopes because of Nixons abilities. But we should have known when clowns like Agnew and Mitchell joined his circus. It just doesn’t pay to cut corners with important choices.

    Something seems to happen to people with too much power. They start to believe the voices around them that talk about Grand Strategies and Heavy Portent. Then, soon, the cheating starts and even criminal activity. It seems like criminality is the only way to save the nation. Alas, they seldom realize that all along the criminality was the point, and the heavy national interest was a contrivance, designed to seduce them. For all his ability, Nixon didn’t have enough hard experience to know that. And the methods easily transfered over to Ford: his handlers convinced him that the pardon was In The Best Interests Of The Nation, for surely us mere citizens are to simple to deal with hard reality.

  • D’oh
  • Clavos

    Something seems to happen to people with too much power

    Haven’t we heard that somewhere before?

    Oh, right:

    Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (April 5, 1887), wrote,

    “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  • D’oh

    Which shows, Clavos, why it is anathema and brutally unhealthy for our Republic to be governed by only a single Party.

    Hence my always saying that the avowed goal of a “permanent Republican majority” as stated by Rove would have been not only disasterous, but unhealthy for us as a people and as a nation.

  • Oh Dick, you so crazy. Ford was an ok fellow, but you’re just determined to be a hater. Pardoning Nixon was a questionable move- for which Ford paid by losing the election.

    It would be reasonable to credit Ford with statemanship on this issue on the grounds that he did something that he thought (rightly or wrongly) was in the nation’s best interest – even knowing that it would likely to cost him his chance at actually being elected to the job.

    Also, Bush simply hasn’t committed any crimes. There are plenty of questionable policy judgements – but that’s true of ANY president. Whether he’s done US any good or not, Bush has tried in good faith to protect and defend the country.

    But of course anyone STUPID enough not to see that Bush is just like Hitler, well they’re obviously clinically insane.

    Perhaps you need to do your exercises – you know, the ones that help make the line between reality and fantasy a little less blurry.

  • I don’t share Richard’s tidy but shrill formula: Nixon should have gone to jail, and Bush should too. Most [all?] of the crimes he would imprison Bush for have to do with Iraq. Nixon [as well as Johnson] was called a war criminal too – but if he had been indicted it would have been for abuse of office and covering up political dirty tricks – never for Vietnam or Cambodia.

    I believe Ford’s motives were sincerely to heal – the trial of a president would have had unpredictable effects on an already demoralized country. At any rate, Ford paid the political price. He had 70% approval ratings right before the pardon – but they dropped like a stone afterward, and his reelection was doomed.

    Anyway, calling for jail for one’s political opponents is anti-democratic and is too similar to what the vile House Republicans did to Clinton in 1998-99. Better to defeat them at the ballot box. As we just did.

    And yet despite Dave’s claim that they are ‘unconnected,’ there is the Rumsfeld/Cheney legacy connecting the Ford and Bush Jr presidencies. According to an op-ed in the NY Times today, Ford promoted Rumsfeld and Cheney to counter criticism he was getting from the right flank of his party, which was coalescing around Reagan. And Cheney’s vision of an imperialist executive branch was hardened during those post-Watergate years when he felt the executive was too weak. It is this vision that has led the Bush administration into its most regrettable misadventures.

  • Clavos

    D’oh says,

    Which shows, Clavos, why it is anathema and brutally unhealthy for our Republic to be governed by only a single Party.

    Or even just the two we have, D’oh. They’re too much alike.

  • sr

    Richard#2. But at least clinton made US smile. Who is US? Speak for yourself sir. The fact is Monica Lewinsky made clinton smile. Sure the hell wasn’t the hilldabeast who put a smile on that turd faced dick head.


    Here’s Shark’s take on Ford:

    I paid a lot of attention to politics at the time (1960s-70s) — and I remember him for only a few things;


    2) Squeeky Fromm

    3) He fell down a lot.

    — um, that’s it. It’s a slow news week when the public and the media start frothing over the loss of such a “great” mediocre, accidental President who did little more than pardon his ex-boss.


    the news comes out about the WOODWARD interview with Ford from TWO YEARS AGO. Ford explicitly criticizes BUSH, CHENEY, and RUMSFELD on the Iraq Farce, but also — get this…


    FUCK GERALD FORD. He could have been a MAN with some integrity and added to the dialogue on Iraq — perhaps expediting our withdrawal — and saving some AMERICAN LIVES.

    FUCK FORD. His final act was a that of a selfish CHICKENSHIT.

    Fuck him. May he rot in hell.

  • RedTard

    “Fuck him. May he rot in hell.”

    Then I suppose you’ll be in some good company. The hate filled, angry, bitter, bitch wing of the electorate is out in full force trying to make everyone out to be as angry, evil, and bitter as they are. Sorry, no luck here.

    I like president’s who seem like lame ducks and have no definable plan. At least they’re not letting their hubris carry us into oblivion.

  • Arch Conservative

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I know I’ll be saying that very thing when Bill Clinton dies Shark.

    May he rot in hell for eternity!

    And again when the lesbian he married for political purposes dies too I will say it again.

    May that evil cunt rot in hell for all eternity, the world just became a much better place!

  • Clavos

    Throw him a head of lettuce, Red. Manatees love lettuce.

  • Lovely sentiments, Arch. Your delicate and graceful prose always lights up the room.

  • Arch Conservative

    You’re right handy………..

    When I talk about how I feel about slick Willie and his wife it doesn’t even come close to the quality prose that all the Bush haters screaming Bush is Hitler and war for oil for the umpteenth time offer us.

  • publisher

    The American people elected a Democratic majority to restore checks and balances, the rule of law, and our reputation as a law-abiding country in the world community.

    These cannot be accomplished unless President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are impeached.

    Their impeachable offenses dwarf those that led to proceedings against President Clinton and President Andrew Jonson, and the threatened proceeding against President Richard Nixon combined. The offenses below are already supported with evidence in the public record, including admissions of guilt. It is likely that investigations prior to impeachment would turn up even more.


    * Lying to the American people, Congress, and the world about the threat from Iraq & need for war.

    * War of aggression against Iraq, which posed no threat to US.

    * Death of over 600,000 Iraqis and nearly 3,000 S troops in unnecessary war.

    * Exploiting 9/11 for political gain and for war to benefit oil companies and other cronies.

    * Canceling Iraq’s oil contracts with foreign companies and giving them to American corporations and restructuring Iraq’s oil industry to their specification in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

    * Awarding no-bid contracts to cronies for rebuilding and oil exploitation in Iraq.

    * Inciting animosity toward the US by attacking Iraq and falsely claiming it was part of “War on Terror.”

    * Authorizing the use of torture in violation of the Geneva Convention and US law and against the advice of the uniformed military.

    * Participating in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Haiti and attempting to do so in Venezuela.

    * Failure to fully cooperate with 9/11 Commission and joint congressional inquiry, and refusal to comply with Freedom of Information Act in other areas as well.

    * Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

    * Issuing signing statements that contradict the plain meaning of legislation, including on issues of torture.

    * Denying Americans and others habeas corpus rights even after Supreme Court ruled against it.

    * Coercing government employees to lie to Congress and the American people about the cost of Medicare drug benefit, global warning, and toxic hazard of NYC after 9/11.

    * Failure to provide timely aid to Hurricane Katrina victims and appointing someone with no experience to run FEMA.

    * Barring Americans who disagree with the president from public events paid for with taxpayer money, and forcibly removing some with private security posing as Secret Service agents.

    Listen to the American people so we can be confident we have a democracy again.