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.