Presidential History

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

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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.

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  1. What jumped out at me is the difference between this funeral and Reagan’s.

    Outside of the official fanfare, and hometown crowd, this funeral is largely a forgotten story even before it’s over.

    And the accolades just pour in from the media and punditry.

    Reagan dies and the country’s reaction was overwhelming, and the only way they could say anything positive about him was to frame it in the context of his “sometimes controversial” stance or decision, or whatever.

    The lesson being of course, the more incompetent and spinelessly moderate one is, the more people will like you once your dead.

    Ooooh, that’d be great on a motivational poster. . .

  2. The pardon stuff is horrible, especially given that there’s no real logical reason for pardoning someone who pathologically abused the powers of the presidency. But what’s worse is that no media organization has mentioned that Ford, you know, killed a quarter million people. That usually counts as a major blemish on one’s record, no?

  3. Well, I am a big fan of The Hitch, but this is a real puzzle: It meant, second, that we still do not even know why the burglars were originally sent into the offices of the Democratic National Committee….

    G. Gordon Liddy has been telling people for years why they went in. I thought Hitchens had been on Liddy’s show before. Perhaps he can ask the next time he is a guest?

    1. The Democrats had attempted to break into RNC HQ numerous times.

    2. (maybe this should be 1) John Nean’s girlfriend was an escort for guests of the DNC and Dean wanted something from her desk.

    That’s it, that’s all and there is no evidence that Nixon had any idea that his spunky underlings were doing this stuff.

  4. John Nean’s = John Dean’s

  5. 105.9.1.4/s2 – The Hitchens Clause – Upon the death of a Republican former PotUS or head of a major Christian denomination, one Christopher Hithens will be temporarily suspended from the classification of drunken, idiot, traitorous, zombified chickenhawks and cleared for quoting and huzzahs and well dones for a period lasting no more than two weeks, and only on matters of the deceased as listed above. At all other times and on all other subjects he will be considered one, several or all of the following (drunken, idiot, traitorous, zombified and/or chickenhawk) for anything written or said dating back to 9/11/01 or relating to former President William J. Clinton at dates preceeding 9/11/01.

  6. Cinnabob, how about we praise Hitchens when he says something praiseworthy, and vilify him when he says something vile?

  7. Not my rules Jennifer, I’m merely trying to extrapolate what seems to be very distinct and patterned ruleset governing activity of quoting the man in recent years.

  8. Ramones is to Rock Music
    as Reagan is to Presidency
    or maybe Washington….

    Gerald Ford was more like Ashlee Simpson

  9. “That’s it, that’s all and there is no evidence that Nixon had any idea that his spunky underlings were doing this stuff.”

    What about the fact that he said that he didn’t? After all, he falsely proclaimed that he was not a crook. What makes anyone think his denial of knowledge of the Watergate break-in is any more credible?

  10. Leaving aside the issue of the pardon and other details of Ford’s presidency…the hoopla and pomp surrounding his passing are expected – even mandated – regardless of how “good” or “bad” he was as our President. In terms of importance and impact, of course he didn’t equal Reagan, or FDR, or other full-termers, etc, but the passing of any of our Presidents – only 43 of them in 225+ years – requires strict protocol, and what goes for one, goes for all of them.

  11. 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.

    Jesse, that was priceless.

    But you forgot to mention that during his term there would still be pundits from (circle one: the left, the right) insisting that the Brownie rapist was (circle one: demonstrating manly strength and mastery, a victim of society and oppressive sexual attitudes).

  12. I agree with nearly all of this post except the odd claim that the Capitol ceremony was the “actual funeral.” I would consider that more equivalent to a wake. A lengthy, religious-oriented service such as the one this morning is what I would think of as an actual funeral, or if not that, then tomorrow’s burial. The Capitol ceremony seems the least actual funeralesque of the three to me.

  13. But all the love for the Nixon pardon really grates.

    Yes! I would have loved to have awoke from the “long national nightmare” and seen Nixon in a tar-and-feather suit.

    We need to set an example once in awhile.

  14. No way a Michigander invades Wisconsin.

    No. Fucking. Way.

    Why? Because Michiganders would probably make Matt Millen their general, and we all know how that would turn out.

  15. Yes, because that fuckin’ Nixon, well, he did shit that nobody ever did before, ‘specially no Democrat. I mean, shit, would you buy a used car from that guy?

  16. ….a prescient critic of the Badger Menace. – Jesse Walker

    That’s not all that funny to those of us caught behind the Cheddar Curtain. Sometimes I wake up screaming, with visions of Donna Shalala leading those rallies, and 60,000 cultists in one camp, yelling “Go, Red! Go, Red!” Fear le Fromage Rouge!

    As for the Brownie, c’mon, she came bearing treats, wearing one of those short skirts. Worked for Monica, right? 🙂

    Kevin

    Trapped In America’s Subsidized Dairyland

  17. Well, I am a big fan of The Hitch,

    I used to be, when I was a socialist.

    Now, there’s not much in him that would be attractive to a libertarian. Except maybe his hatred of religion, which I share. And his exposing the absurdity of multiculturalism. But his continued support of the Iraq war while a majority of the wars supporters have accepted reality is a turn off.

    That being said, while I disagree with his socialist tendencies along with his moralistic foreign policy, any man who writes a book attacking Mother Teresa as being a masochistic, ignorant fundamentalist will always have a spot in my heart.

  18. Jesse, great stuff, just what Thow-row said. He’s right, that was priceless.

  19. Look, even if he raped a Brownie scout on camera and invaded Wisconsin, I think it would be rather partisan to impeach him over these personal indiscretions.

  20. 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.

    Now there’s a vision of America I could endorse. If this be the future, bring it on.

  21. Gerald Ford was there to remind us that anyone could be a president too.

    I think he reminded us that any average person could be president. Our current commander-in-chief reminds us that any person at all can be president.

  22. “To see him mourned in royal style isn’t just silly; it’s a betrayal, man. It’s like punk never happened.”

    That bit kills me.

  23. Time for a Gerald Ford joke… You all know why he died last week, right? He didn’t want to see Michigan have its ass handed to it by USC in the Rose Bowl.

  24. Talk about revisionist – The Ramones sold like 50,000 albums a year TOPS until well into the Carter presidency.

  25. But when a president dies, it’s now apparently obligatory to praise his term in office.

    Why not? This is an America where the appearance of even the lowliest celebrity on a stage causes ecstatic adulation including hoots and hollers and the obligatory standing ovation.

  26. Why? Because Michiganders would probably make Matt Millen their general, and we all know how that would turn out.

    Made my morning.

  27. [i]
    Why? Because Michiganders would probably make Matt Millen their general, and we all know how that would turn out.[/i]

    At least we know he wouldn’t know how to draft!

    [rimshot]

    Don’t think that Michigan loves Millen. Besides, we’d invade Ohio way before we invade Wisconsin!

  28. G. Gordon Liddy blames the Democrats? Shocker in gloomtown, that. I had no idea. Wish the role of the Democrats in the Watergate thing had come out at trial when President Nixon put on his defense. Why was Ford protecting Democrats?

    Oh . . . wait . . . we are talking about the world Liddy shares with Mr. Montag. Nevermind.

    Not that the Democrats had not done their own spying, but the solution to that problem is better safeguards, not payback in kind. I mean what did they tell Liddy? “we don’t care what you find or photograph at the DNC HQ, just so long as you do some spying, any spying — this is not about the information you may be able to obtain — it is just simple revenge.” Get a clue. Those were not Liddy’s marching orders.

  29. Besides, we’d invade Ohio way before we invade Wisconsin!

    You know how we get University of Michigan grads off of our front porches?

    We pay them for the pizza.

  30. I don’t know. I feel ya on the Nixon pardon thing. I’d like to see a president taken all the way down just for the entertainment value of it. (I’d like to see the current president behind bars because justice demands it.) Nixon was a right bastard, no more so than most, but he was also a jerk.

    If Ford hadn’t pardoned him, it would have never died. The investigations and investigations of the investigations would have dragged out for years and years. Ford himself would have been permitted to deal with nothing else. So maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad. But I for one couldn’t have enjoyed the spectacle. The Kennedy assignation, OJ, Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, once a story hits a certain low it disgusts me. I think it would have been a bad thing for the POTUS and the congress to be consumed by that kind of circus.

  31. there is no evidence that Nixon had any idea that his spunky underlings were doing this stuff

    there’s some. first, he is on tape ordering other break-ins and then this as well:

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/07/27/magruder.watergate/

  32. I’m just surprised that Hitch hasn’t gone into hiding after that “Why Women Aren’t Funny” thing he did in Vanity Fair.

  33. “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.'”

    huh?

  34. Lew Rockwell is nutjob. There is just no way around it. I really hate the whole “we are just a military empire bullshit.” That moron wouldn’t know a military empire if it bit his fat ass.

    As far as Ford goes, I think a lot of the revisionism is just the same game the media always plays. The media loves dead Republican Presidents. Hell, they were even nice to Nixon when he died. Basically, if the guy is dead, he is no threat to do anything anymore. It gives the media a chance to make meaningless jestures and appear non-partisian. The media hate Repubicans who win elections and accomplish things. Once a Republican is too old or too dead to do those things, the media then treats them like an elder statesman whether they deserve it or not.

  35. we’re a sad attempt at a military empire.

  36. Dhex: indeed!

    We couldn’t even save Mr. Ford from those wolves. How sad. If only Agent Orange were here. He’d solve the problem right quicker than even Brian Boitano would.

  37. When both Bushes were praising Ford’s pardon of Nixon why don’t someone suggest in the same spirit that their son and brother grant clemency to Richard Paey. Jeb left office yesterday and of course didn’t.

  38. Besides, we’d invade Ohio way before we invade Wisconsin! – Bubbles the Lion

    Hey, Michigundians and Uhians have gone at it before. Would the loser have to keep Toledo in round 2?

    Kevin

  39. Kevrob:

    bitter about the UP going to Michigan to placate them after losing the Maumee River Valley?

    🙂

    That’s probably why Cincinnati is in Ohio: the Buckeyes lost the bet with Kentucky.

    If we had a good Military Lawyer, we’d be able to sort through these issues!

  40. Lyndon Johnson’s often bowdlerized quote about Gerald Ford should not be forgotten:

    “He can’t fart* and chew gum at the same time.”

    *walk is the bowdlerized version.

    Johnson appointed Ford to the Warren commission. It made me wonder why Johnson would want someone he considered inept investigating Kennedy’s murder.

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