Gerald Ford became our ‘accidental president’ 32 years ago when Richard Nixon resigned. I haven’t heard it mentioned today, but it’s worth noting, Ford became Nixon’s vice president only because Spiro T. Agnew was forced to resign in disgrace.
I’m not going to do a biography here. But I do want to speak about President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon. That’s a subject I have heard a lot about today.
I was not a fan of Nixon’s. I was vehemently opposed to the war in Vietnam and felt the Nixon administration had been disingenuous in its conduct, at best. Though Nixon inherited the war from Johnson and Kennedy, it blossomed under his administration.
Watergate¹ only served to amplify my anger.
Yet, I was not upset Nixon was pardoned. I may have been angered when I first heard about it, but my anger didn’t last.
Richard Nixon had already been disgraced. His place in history was already sealed. Why put the nation through the divisiveness of a trial?
We were a country divided. It’s difficult for anyone younger than me to realize how divided we really were. Indicting President Nixon on criminal charges would have only made that divide worse.
And then, there was the specter of Richard Nixon going to jail. How embarrassing would that have been for our nation? Did anyone really want to see him incarcerated?
Did Nixon get off the hook? I suppose he got less formal punishment than he was entitled to. His conduct during the Watergate cover-up violated real laws. However, it’s difficult to imagine anyone enduring more mental anguish than what he did during his last year in office.
We were better as a country getting Watergate behind us.
Thirty years later, I still agree with Gerald Ford’s most controversial move.
¹ – Also forgotten in history is the fact that Watergate was nothing more than a ‘recon’ burglary against the Democrats, in an election Nixon surely would have won anyway! In other words, it was totally unnecessary.
Blogger’s note: After I put this entry online, I received an angry note from John Bosch. I’m publishing his entire email (with his permission) after the jump.
This blog is a reflection of my feelings and remembrances. Unlike a newscast, or a newspaper, these entries are sometimes based solely emotion.
I replied to John in support of my position, but that’s not important here. Here’s his read on what transpired.
I was appalled to read your revisionist history in your blog today under “I was never angry with Gerald Ford” and your quote thereunder that “though Nixon inherited the war from Johnson and Kennedy, it blossomed under his administration.” NOTHING IS FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. Shame on you for misleading your readers!
* Eisenhower kept a few hundred military advisors in S. Viet Nam for years.
* Kennedy increased this to in excess of 3,000 when he became preseident. It is believed
by many he had the then premier Ngo Dinh Diem assassinated in November 1963.
(Ironically so was Kennedy)
* Johnson inherited a mess, increased troop levels to 500,000 men and inititated a three +
year bombing campaign with agent orange, over 900 planes lost and over 600 American
pilots killed, lost or captured.
Nixon was far from perfect but the war did not blossom under his administration. Ultimately it was the seeds that Kennedy sowed that blossomed into the thousands of American deaths. Sadly Kennedy will be fondly remembered in history because of his flamboyant personality and good looks. In fact he was one of the worst presidents this country ever had because whatever he touched turned into dissaster. The Cuban invasion where he left hundreds on the beaches to be rounded up by failing to provide the promised air cover. The Cuban missile crisis which was a direct result of his threats to Russia as was the Berlin blockade. He was seen as a “hero” because Russia relented, but this guy damn near started WWIII.
In view of all this, and putting aside Watergate, Nixon’s report card his to be given a much higher grade than Kennedy and a reasonably higher grade than Johnson.