Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ford: A Discouraging Word

Americans do tend to let their sympathies and myths run away with them. Appearing on the Colin McEnroe show, Nixon gunner and Watergate star Lowell Weicker admitted he was wrong. At the time of then President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon, the senator said, he was outraged. But he was wrong, Weicker generously admitted: Ford was right to pardon Nixon.

Weicker was his usual expansive self:

"Now, let's get to the big issue, which is the pardon of Nixon. I mean, I was pissed when that happened. Obviously, I had passionately involved myself in Watergate. It sort of had taken two years of my life to get out of that difficult time. It turned out alright, but nobody knew that at the beginning. And here comes the president to be pardoned. Well, I made my feelings known in no uncertain terms. But I'm going to tell you... I'm going to do something you rarely hear Lowell Weicker do:I was wrong, he was right. I mean, we had gone through Vietnam; we had gone through Watergate. I mean, the country was just really aflame in every direction. And this man just decided to put the lid on it. We had enough of Watergate. We had done everything that should have been done. The president had resigned. So what do we gotta grind our teeth for a couple of years while we go through the legal process? I don't think so..."

Christopher Hitchens has a different take:

You may choose, if you wish, to parrot the line that Watergate was a ‘long national nightmare,’ but some of us found it rather exhilarating to see a criminal president successfully investigated and exposed and discredited. And we do not think it in the least bit nightmarish that the Constitution says that such a man is not above the law. Ford's ignominious pardon of this felonious thug meant, first, that only the lesser fry had to go to jail. It meant, second, that we still do not even know why the burglars were originally sent into the offices of the Democratic National Committee. In this respect, the famous pardon is not unlike the Warren Commission: another establishment exercise in damage control and pseudo-reassurance (of which Ford was also a member) that actually raised more questions than it answered. The fact is that serious trials and fearless investigations often are the cause of great division, and rightly so. But by the standards of ‘healing’ celebrated this week, one could argue that O.J. Simpson should have been spared indictment lest the vexing questions of race be unleashed to trouble us again, or that the Tower Commission did us all a favor by trying to bury the implications of the Iran-Contra scandal. Fine, if you don't mind living in a banana republic.”

And that ain’t the end of it. There’s more here.
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