Pres­i­dent Ford

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

“Our long na­tional night­mare is over,” Ger­ald Ford told the na­tion on as­sum­ing the pres­i­dency. And soon it was. For that the na­tion owes a large debt to the sac­ri­fice of Ger­ald Ford.

The hon­est and forth­right Mr. Ford, who died at his Cal­i­for­nia home Dec. 26 at the age of 93, did what had to be done, even at the sac­ri­fice of his pres­i­dency. In ret­ro­spect, his con­tro­ver­sial and re­viled par­don for Richard Nixon was clearly the right thing to do. He spared the coun­try years of un­cer­tainty, put Water­gate to rest, re­turned the na­tion’s eye to the fu­ture and re­stored tra­di­tion, honor and dig­nity to the na­tion’s high­est of­fice.

To hear Mr. Ford ex­plain it, there was never a ques­tion in his mind about what he had to do, which he ex­plained in the logic and lan­guage of ev­ery­man. This was the mark of the man. He rea­soned that Richard Nixon was only one Amer­i­can among many mil­lions, and he owed the larger re­spon­si­bil­ity to the many mil­lions who de­served to have the na­tional night­mare put to rest. The na­tion had to move on.

“I paid a price, sure, but it is a price a pres­i­dent has to pay when he thinks he is do­ing the right thing, what­ever the polls show,” he told colum­nist David Broder in

The hon­est and forth­right Mr. Ford, who died at his

Cal­i­for­nia home Dec. 26 at the age of 93, did what had

to be done, even at the sac­ri­fice of his pres­i­dency. In

ret­ro­spect, his con­tro­ver­sial and re­viled par­don for

Richard Nixon was clearly the right thing to do. He

spared the coun­try years of un­cer­tainty, put Water­gate to

rest, re­turned the na­tion’s eye to the fu­ture and re­stored

tra­di­tion, honor and dig­nity to the na­tion’s high­est of­fice.

1994. “The first month I was in of­fice, I spent 25 per­cent of my time talk­ing to lawyers about what to do about the Nixon tapes, the Nixon pa­pers. Ninety per­cent of the ques­tions at my first press con­fer­ence were about Nixon. I thought I had to get the Nixon ques­tions off my desk.

“I had a hel­luva lot more im­por­tant busi­ness. The Rus­sians and our al­lies did- n’t know what we were go­ing to do. We had a se­ri­ous re­ces­sion start­ing. So I came to the con­clu­sion, wholly on my own, that I ought to spend all my time on the busi­ness of 230 mil­lion Amer­i­cans, and not 25 per­cent on one man.”

This was a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion, math­e­mat­i­cal in its rea­son­ing, and for that rea­son it was all the more com­pelling. Many Amer­i­cans have changed their minds since about the par­don. In an ABC News poll taken in 2002 on the 30th an­niver­sary of the Water­gate break-in, 6 in 10 Amer­i­cans said the par­don was the right thing to do.

Some ar­gue still that the par­don de­prived the na­tion of a “full telling” or the na­tion of an op­por­tu­nity to “fully heal.” This is non­sense. Most ev­ery sig­nif­i­cant de­tail of the Water­gate break-in and coverup has come to light with­out a drawn-out or­deal for a dis­graced pres­i­dent, which would have amounted to a show trial.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple will al­ways ad­mire Ger­ald Ford’s de­vo­tion to duty, his per­sonal char­ac­ter and the hon­or­able con­duct of his ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Mr. Bush said when he learned that Mr. Ford had left us. How true.

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