I miss Gerald Ford

President Gerald Ford

I miss Gerald Ford.

When Ford was president, the world was still largely black and white. I’m not engaging in whimsy, longing for those golden days of yesteryear. Nah. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

What I mean by black and white is that, literally, the world was reported in black and white. My newspapers were printed in black and white. And Gerald Ford appeared on my television in black and white. He did bring us to the precipice of the world of color, however. The day after he was sworn in as president, the Pittsburgh Press (Defunctus est, R.I.P.) printed his picture in color on page one. That’s the first color image I remember on the cover of a newspaper. Ever.

But, the next day, the world was back to black and white.

I know that pardoning Richard Nixon was controversial. I know I too felt betrayed that Nixon was let off so easy. But I don’t agree with these guys that Nixon’s pardon had some ill-effect on the possible impeachment of George W. Bush:

If we look at the remainder of the 1970’s it is certainly possible that the country was calmer than if faced with the trial and possible imprisonment of a former President. However it is not the 1970’s I am concerned about now but the present. The pardon established a terrible precedent that the President is above the law and should not be punished for crimes because it would be too hard on the country.

No, I disagree that that action had such an adverse effect on any possible action against W. If Congress can go after a man for lying about a blowjob and some quick cigar foreplay (who thinks of these things?), then Congress can go after a man for lying about a war.

I disagree with the presumption of some that because we’re on the left, we’re supposed to attack those on the other side of the aisle at all costs. Ford had some redeeming qualities. At the very least, he was great for Chevy Chase. I’ll never forget Chase decorating that Christmas tree on SNL, and falling headfirst into it.

“Live! From New York!…”

But what I most admire Gerald Ford for is his ability to change. I admire his ability to speak out when his party was drifting so radically to the right in recent years. Consider this story published yesterday in eNews Park Forest:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Mourns Death of Gerald R. Ford

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27–(ENEWSPF)– The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the death of former President Gerald R. Ford, who died Tuesday at the age of 93.

Statement by Matt Foreman,
Executive Director National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

“We mourn the death of former President Gerald R. Ford, a good, decent and principled leader. Because he espoused true conservative values, he consistently advocated for the rights of individuals and condemned those who sought to impose conformity of thought and behavior. These beliefs led him to support women’s rights and to publicly support federal legislation to prohibit anti-gay discrimination in employment. When, in 2001, he said, ‘I think they [same-sex couples] should be treated equally. Period,’ he became the highest-ranking Republican ever to publicly support equal treatment for our families.

“In recent years, he decried the growing coarseness of American politics and called for bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems, something he always sought while in office.

“We express our condolences to Mrs. Ford, his children and other members of his family and to all who knew and loved him.”

That took chutzpah. That took spunk.

Hell, that took balls. “W” stuffed his crotch and declared victory in Iraq. Phony message. Phony balls. Congress needs ’em some now.

I miss Gerald Ford.

  • lolits

    My mom was one of those proper women from another generation who wasn’t sure politics was an appropriate topic for dinner table discussion. All four of her apples fell a long distance from that tree, especially her daughters. In her later years, she loosened up a bit and I remember her comment about trying to decide whether to vote for incumbent president Ford or for an unknown peanut farmer from Georgia. She was leaning toward the unknown , but she said with real regret in her voice, “But the President is such a nice man.”

    He was a good and decent man who lived by principle, not expediency. Thankfully the unknown peanut farmer was another principled President.

    Ford’s pardon of Nixon cost him. I disagree that it was the right thing to do, but he thought it was and he was willing to take his chances. Integrity, conscience, courage! Not a bad way to be remembered. May he rest in peace!

  • Ron Chusid

    I’m afraid you misunderstood my post which you linked to at DemBloggers (with orignal post at Liberal Values:


    I did not say that the pardon of Nixon in any way decreased the chances of impeaching Bush. As you did, I noted how freely the Republicans used impeachment .

    I didn’t see impeachment as a sufficient deterrent since 1) Bush is unlikely to have believed that the Republicans would lose control of congress, and therefore impeachment was not likely, and 2) impeachment by itself is not sufficient when in today’s polarized climate conviction would be unlikely even if the Republicans did lose their Senate majority, espeicially as the right wing noise machine would continue to back Bush’s actions.

    As for the actual arguments I gave against the pardon, see the post, especially the 4th paragraph.

  • G

    Thank you for the clarification. You’re right about the likely outcome had events been permitted to go to their logical conclusion. A prosecution of a former president no doubt would have been a more effective deterrent against the current abuses we see than the pardon was.