Former President Gerald Ford died on Tuesday. He was 93 years old.
I was but a wee lad in 1974 when I watched President Nixon announced he was resigning his office and that then VP Ford would be taking over. After the corruption of Nixon on the news every night, Ford was boring. Until he pardoned Nixon.
Even as a kid of 6, I knew it was a bone head move on his part to do it. Now many years later you have to wonder that if Ford wanted to “put Watergate and the Nixon presidency in the past”, then why did he not pardon everyone involved in the Watergate mess?
In an article in the Washington Post, by Bob Woodward, it was noted that on August 1, 1974, before Nixon resigned:
[Nixon’s chief of staff, Alexander M.] Haig presented Ford with six scenarios: Nixon could step aside temporarily under the 25th Amendment, he could just wait and delay the ongoing impeachment process, or he could try to settle for a formal censure. In addition, there were three pardon options. Nixon could pardon himself and resign. Or he could pardon the aides involved and then resign. Or Nixon could agree to leave in return for an agreement that the new President Ford would pardon him.
Ford claimed thereafter there was never a deal but one has to wonder if he would have signed a pardon if Haig hadn’t suggested it. It reminds me of those scenes in detective shows when they ask to see some file and the person tells them no but then leaves the file out while saying they need to go to the bathroom and they will be back in 5 minutes. The file clerk didn’t give the file to the detective but he knew what he was doing in leaving it out for the detective to look at.
I remember Ford’s time in office for the bad recession, unemployment, the gas crises, and the evacuation of Saigon. He also told New York city no when it asked for a bail out when it declared bankruptcy. And he had an obsession with the Swine Flu and making sure everyone was vaccinated against it – similar to the hype about the current Bird Flu.
In June of 1976, Ford stopped in Findlay to give a stump speech in front of the Elks club downtown (on the corner of Main Street and Lincoln St). A few thousand people showed up to his rally including me and my family. He was the President, so even if my Mom wasn’t going to vote for him, we still came out to see him.
Across the street from the Elks was the headquarters of Marathon Oil and I remember workers there were looking out and opening windows to hear the speech. Several police officers used a bullhorn and ordered the windows closed for security reasons.
The other interesting note about that rally was a few years later a picture from the event was used in the civics book I had in school. That was cool.
I will agree that President Ford was a nice guy but the pardon of Nixon will taint his short time in office in my book.