Why Gerald Ford matters
As a President, he was mediocre. As a Congressional leader, he was a reliable Nixon supporter. Before WWII, he helped found the anti-semitic America First while American pilots were dying over England in RAF and Canadian uniforms.
But he only matters in history for one reason: pardoning Richard Nixon.
We can debate his other acts, but this is the sole reason he matters in American history.
The question is whether he should have.
1975 was a difficult year. The US military was dysfunctional, American society was shattered, there was a real question if the US could have survived the trial of Richard Nixon for his various crimes.
Once he had slunk off, to everyone's relief, there was no great appetite for punishment among Congress.
But, by pardoning Nixon, he helped save the GOP, by not exposing the criminal nature of that enterprise. It was allowed to reform as a right wing party, catering to small business and backwoods rednecks. The Dems never really pressed the advantage they could have had by exposing Nixon and his crimes.
Such bloodletting ends more like the movie Z than in heroic triumph. Nixon was a crook, he was stained by his actions. A trial may have led to more disorder. Nixon lived in ignominy afterwards, Ford with his golf game.
In a world of two bad choices, maybe Ford made the least bad choice
posted by Steve @ 2:03:00 PM