Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Healing the Nation"

Could somebody who was watching the news in the 1970's please explain
how Ford "Healed the Nation" by pardoning Nixon and why this was such
a great thing?

>From my gen-Xer perspective, Ford's act sounds a lot more like letting
the guy who ordered the thing go home while the less powerful folks
went to jail.

I'm willing to be convinced. I just don't understand right now...



"Friends? Hah. These are my only friends. Grown-up nerds like Gore
Vidal. And HE's kissed more boys than I ever will."

--Lisa Simpson


Anonymous said...

He didn't really heal the nation. They did this same stuff with Ronald Reagan after he died; even people who couldn't stand the man when he was alive seemed to think he was some kind of saint (or perhaps god) after he died. It seems we're now doing the same thing with Ford.

If this is how it's going to go with all Presidents who die, I hope I precede Dubya to the great hereafter.

Anonymous said...

I haven't any idea myself, but Brad Hicks has written two pieces on it now, so you could read them. He does explain why he did "a good thing".


in the second one he compares him to Oskar Schindler, who was "a bad man" who did one good thing. (and no, he wasn't referring to pardoning Nixon)

Joel Monka said...

It was less a case of healing than of preventing further injury. An actual trial would have involved more than a year of investigations and trial... and then what? See a US President go to jail while half the country still believed he was a hero being railroaded? Suppose the government failed to get a conviction? It could have happened- ask OJ. Then there would have been blood in the streets. There was no possible outcome of a trial that would have been good for the country; by preventing the trial, a the emotions were directed at a single man, rather than dividing the country.

fausto said...

Joel's right. He healed the nation indirectly, by decisively taking Watergate off of the national agenda and forcing us to move on, and by offering himself as an alternative target for far less destructive (except to his own personal political career) popular recrimination.

To understand what it was like, imagine cunning Cheney in the presidency rather than gristle-between-the-ears Bush (i. e., someone both very secretive and very smart), imagine palace guards with fanfare trumpets stationed at the White House to flatter the president's megalomania, imagine Iraq has been going on for 12 years, imagine over 50,000 American military deaths and counting in a war we know we can't win, imagine that every kid who turns 18 is eligible to be dragooned into military service, imagine the Vice President has been sent to jail on a bribery/tax fraud conviction, imagine that the Senate has been holding public hearings that have turned up not just suspicion but irrefutable proof of serious crimes against democracy and the rule of law at the highest levels of the Administration. Imagine McCain, Hatch, Grassley, Hagel and Frist going to the White House to tell the president that his own party members are ready to impeach and convict him.

What Ford did was come in and say, "It's over. The nation has been wounded enough. Let's be about the nation's business for a change." And he had enough geniality and personal integrity that even Democrats who had opposed him in Congress for decades could trust him to do exactly that, even if they didn't agree with all his policies.