Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford

It's always big news when one of the small group of former U.S. presidents dies. This explains much of the attention given to the passing of Gerald Ford. Yet I was still somewhat surprised by it. Ford always seemed to me (someone born in the final days of the Ford administration) to have left a small mark on America. And in spite of all the tributes from his friends and colleagues, I still generally believe this.

However, I do think Gerry Ford made a significant contribution to the Republican Party through the pardoning of Richard Nixon and, for that, some of us should now shower praise. Firstly, don't believe the hype. The Nixon pardon was the right move by Ford in every possible sense of analysis. It was right for America and it was certainly right for the GOP. Additionally, I think the Nixon pardon actually helped Gerry Ford in the 1976 election and it later saved the Republican Party for Ronald Reagan to follow.

Could you imagine Ford in the White House running as a Republican in the fall of 1976 with Nixon on trial across town in a DC courthouse? Could you imagine Reagan out on the campaign trail as a Republican in 1980 with Dick Nixon doing time in the slammer in a Camp Fed prison? We know how the media works, right? It was even worse in the wake of Watergate. The GOP would have been smeared by association with Nixon (even more than they were) and that taint would have taken a generation or more to shake.

Ford took a short term hit in popularity with the pardon, but it soon gave his party (and himself) a longterm gain. Watergate was over. Nixon was gone. And everyone had to move on. And the media and the Congressional Democrats couldn't stand it! That's why they blasted Gerry Ford. And, in a sense, I think it also explains the excess of tributes now as many have realized over time (aided by their collective defense of Bill Clinton) that their words and actions against Ford were nothing but ugly partisanship -- the very thing these same crusaders were supposively fighting with Watergate.

So good for Ford. He deserves to go out on a high note. He lived a good life and aided the betterment of his country. America, and certainly we Reagan Republicans, should be grateful for his decision.


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