I'm Gonna Go Out On a Limb and Say They Shouldn't Have Executed Gerald Ford


After largely ignoring his actual funeral, official Washington has been giving Jerry Ford the grand imperial send-off. I kinda like Ford, at least in comparison to other recent presidents, but this is ridiculous. As Lew Rockwell put it, "Only in the late empire could a vast, six-day militarist extravaganza be called humble, spare, and lacking in pomp and circumstance."

The deluge of Ford revisionism is starting to get on my nerves as well, even though I'm a bit of a Ford revisionist myself. I'd even argue that he and Carter are better than any of their successors, and if that isn't revisionist what is? But all the love for the Nixon pardon really grates. As Christopher Hitchens put it in his anti-eulogy:

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….[B]y 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.

It's one thing to keep quiet about such sentiments for a while, so as not to speak ill of the newly dead. It's quite another to actively argue the opposite position. But when a president dies, it's now apparently obligatory to praise his term in office. If America elected a leader who went mad his first week on the job, ordered an invasion of Wisconsin, raped a Brownie Scout at a White House photo op, and shot three cops when they came to cart him away, he could rot unloved in a straightjacket for 20 years only to be "reevaluated" on his death as an important historical figure who united the country at a difficult time and was a prescient critic of the Badger Menace.

Look: President Chevy Chase wasn't a grand imperial guy. Just as the Ramones started to teach us that anyone could be a rock star, Gerald Ford was there to remind us that anyone could be a president too. To see him mourned in royal style isn't just silly; it's a betrayal, man. It's like punk never happened.