Remembering Gerald Ford, Part II
Bob Woodward adds a new wrinkle
to Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon: It was more personal than previously believed. But I don't think it represents a 'significant shift,' as Woodward puts it, from what Ford had previously said. Let's go right to Ford's original pardon speech
(scroll down). Ford openly referred to Nixon as his 'longtime friend' (so much for Woodward unearthing a never-before-known bond between the two). Ford also acknowledges an element of compassion toward Nixon: "But it is not the ultimate fate of Richard Nixon that most
concerns me, though surely it deeply troubles every decent and every compassionate person" (my emphasis added to show that personal compassion was clearly rattling through Ford's brain). And, yet, Ford does talk about trying to separate his personal feelings from his decision, something Woodward's interview with Ford clearly shows he didn't accomplish. Bottom line: We all knew there was an element of the personal involved in Ford's decision -- and Woodward merely nails it down. ... FYI: Woodward writes that the 'political alliance between the two men seriously influenced Ford's eventual decision.' But Ford, in his interview with Woodward, clearly frames it as 'personal.' There's a difference. Minor. But there's a difference. I know of a lot of people who have a 'political alliance' and hate each other's guts. ...
... Don't think I'm passionate about all of this. There are good arguments
for having let Richard Nixon run the legal gauntlet. Maybe it would have chastened people like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, who decades later still argue presidents have extraordinary powers that include dismissing laws when they see fit. Yet I still believe Ford made the right decision for the nation, though Richard Ben-Veniste
makes an excellent argument that the timing
of the pardon was all wrong.