This morning, as I stumbled downstairs, Helaine asked if I had seen George H. W. Bush’s (aka – Bush 41) eulogy of Gerald Ford? It was an unusual topic for Helaine. She mostly avoids this kind of television – and who can blame her?
I had not seen it, but she had recorded it!
OK – before you start getting macabre feelings toward my wife, one of the great advantages of a DVR is, you can record shows on-the-fly. The recording actually begins at the point you started watching, not when you hit the record button. Pretty convenient.
She hit the play button and I watched Mr. Bush walk to the podium. He is 80 years old, but has a full head of hair and wore no glasses.
My dad later commented, maybe Bush 41 has no glasses for the same reason he has no glasses, they no longer help. Good try, but no. It’s possible he’s wearing contacts or had surgery. It’s still impressive.
President Bush began to read the eulogy and was quite poignant. I suppose, with too much practice, one gets gets at this sort of thing. Then he got to the point where he talked about the real Gerry Ford.
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 know he’s promoting his movie and all, but doesn’t it look like Al Gore is running for president again? There’s been lots of exposure and then Saturday Night Live last weekend as the fantasy president in the opening sketch.
History is full of analogs. I was thinking back to 1977, when Jimmy Carter replaced Gerald Ford. Carter was buoyed by an anti-Nixon backlash (even though Nixon was long gone by the election).
Carter was the ‘nicest,’ most morally driven president of my lifetime – the anti-Nixon, if you will. He was also, arguably, the least effective.
That’s it. I’m making no judgments. Just thinking aloud.
I am poised for tonight’s presidential debate from Coral Gables. Like hurricane coverage that starts two days before the storm arrives, the TV pundits have run out of valuable things to say.
Here’s my point: Debates can affect elections.
As close as it was, Al Gore’s horrendously stiff show in the last election debates probably cost him the presidency. Remember ‘lock box,’ a phrase he obviously wanted to get in no matter what was asked?
There was Ronald Reagan’s “there you go again” to Walter Mondale, Gerald Ford’s premature freeing of Poland from communist rule, and Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow.
Tonight I hope it’s not a gaffe that eliminates one man from the presidency, but a realization by the voters of where they stand vis a vis the other.
I recently watched an entire George Bush campaign stop on ABC World Now. There was no commentary and no cut aways. Bush was masterful. I was extremely impressed at his warm, folksy style. To see it used so effectively was unexpected, to say the least. If he can pull that off in this debate (of course in a campaign appearance he never faces critical commentary or questions from his audience as he will tonight), Kerry might as well start wind surfing tomorrow.
On the other hand, for the first time, Kerry gets seen in context with the president. Will he look presidential, compared to the man who currently defines that role? If he does, that goes a long way to calming some fears.
How will he handle the charge of flip flop? If John Kerry changes that perception, Bush has a much tougher opponent for the next 33 or so days.
Will either candidate attack the other? If so, how will the voters react? It can be looked at as a sign of strength, or the trait of a desperate man, depending on how the attack is wielded.
This will be very interesting to watch. I’ll be glued to my seat.