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.