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From the text of Proclamation 4311, the actual pardon:

Now, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9,1974.

Ford's unconditional pardon of Nixon's actions as president set a dangerous and disturbing precedent.

Ford's rationale can be found in this paragraph:

It is believed that a trial of Richard Nixon, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States. The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.

The rationale does not justify establishing the idea that high officials of this nation are somehow exempt from the criminal sanctions intended to deter wrongdoing.  

While it is true Nixon had not been indicted - yet - it is also true that the Watergate Grand Jury had reached a conclusion that he should be indicted, but Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski argued that a sitting president could not be indicted, so the grand jury reluctantly only named Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator.

At the time of the pardon, I tended to accept Ford's rationale.  My then girlfriend and I had one of our very first arguments, with here arguing against the pardon.  One this her instincts were right and mine were wrong.

It is true that Spiro Agnew was forced from office and lost his law license, but his actions were those of a common criminal, accepting of bribes stemming from his service as Baltimore County Executive, bribes continuing during his service as Governor and then as Vice President.  One might argue that they had little if anything to do with his federal service.  Still, the Justice Department determined that he could be prosecuted.  He got off lightly because there was an Attorney General of integrity who worried that Nixon might be impeached and removed and he did not want a common crook to ascend to the Oval Office.  Elliot Richardson had been the only many Nixon could get confirmed as Attorney General after the scandals of his previous Attorneys General began to come to light.  Richardson had appointed the very independent Archibald Cox to investigate Watergate, and resigned rather than fire Cox when that gentleman demanded the White House tapes.  As I said, a man of integrity.

Nixon faced impeachment on three charges voted out by the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.  Consider the heart just of the First of these three articles:  

On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:

  1. making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

  2. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

  3. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;

  4. interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;

  5. approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;

  6. endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;

  7. disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;

  8. making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or

  9. endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

Think how many criminal actions are contained therein.  Consider the perversion of the criminal justice system.  Consider the abuse of office.  Consider the violation of his oath of office.

Nixon did not face criminal sanctions for the wrongdoing in this article, nor for violating the rights of citizens as cited in the 2nd article, nor for his failure to respond to duly issued subpoenas in an attempt to block impeachment procedings.  

Nixon was asserting a doctrine of an imperial presidency, one he repeated in his interview with David Frost when he asserted that if the President does it, it is not against the law.

Really?

In Watergate, the most important conspirator, without whom the coverup would not have been possible, faced no punishment.  This established a precedent that the highest officials would never suffer.  We can look at the damage this did to our system in the pardons of Iran-Contra or in the the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, or in the refusal of the current administration to even undertake appropriate criminal investigations of the misdeeds of the previous administration.

No person should be above the law.  The pardon of Nixon placed him above the law. It spoke loudly, that beyond the loss of political office there would be no punishment for a President who violated the law, who abused the powers of his office.  

The failure to fully expose to the American people the scope of the crimes of Richard Nixon allowed for the perversion of the impeachment process as it was used against Bill Clinton.   And do not doubt that the impeachment of Clinton was at least in part payback by some for the impeachment actions against Nixon -  there were key Republicans quite well aware that Hillary Rodham had been a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee.  But that is a separate issue.

There are things we should teach our children.  There are things we somehow exclude from our history curriculum.  Our children are raised without a proper understanding.  On Monday it was appropriate for people to note that most high school courses in American History gloss over labor history, so that a decreasing number of Americans have any understanding of how the labor movement benefited them even if they have never joined a union.  They do not understand how unions were a major reason this nation did not succumb to the tendency of plutocracy.

We also do not fully teach what happened in the Nixon administration.  Hell, Bill Clinton went and spoke at his Nixon's funeral.  That seemed to offer a rehabilitation that should not have occurred, not without a full exposure of the wrong-doing, not without Nixon required to accept responsibility for how he perverted his office and our criminal justice system.

Perverted our criminal justice system - for personal and political advantage.  Think back to the last administration's misuse of the criminal justice system to go after Democrats.  Remember that part of the reason for the protections of the Bill Rights was to prevent the use of the criminal justice system against political opponents.   If you doubt this, read the Declaration of Independence, where the King's misuse of criminal justice was a major part of the complaints.  Those grievances against the King were because rights supposedly long established for Englishmen were being ignored, rights established as far back as Magna Carta, through the Petition of Right and the English Bill of Rights.

We chose not to have a king.  We established a government of laws and not of men.  If some men are exempt from the consequences of the law by virtue either of their office or the power of office of their benefactor/sponsor, we no longer have a government of laws.  If only the lower level wrongdoers are punished, as happened for example in Abu Ghraib, then we have abandoned the principle of command responsibility as we applied it in the execution of General Yamashita for the atrocities committed by his troops.

The scope of crime need not be on the scale of the Holocaust and the aggressions of World War II in order to hold high government officials responsible.  We have held that national leaders of other countries who commit crimes against us can be prosecuted -  Manuel Noriega, anyone?  We have justified military and legal actions against leaders of other nations because of the crimes they have committed against their own people -  Saddam Hussein, anyone?  And yet we seem reluctant to hold to the standard of law when it is our own leaders, be it Nixon's perversions of justice, Reagan's violation of US law in Iran-Contra, or Bush's starting an unjustified and aggressive war.  We have so allowed the standards of justice to slip that Congress retroactively exempted the telecomms for gross violations of the rights of Americans denying those abused their right to recover appropriate compensatory damages, and an administration that persistently violated laws and the rights of Americans walked away with no one punished for those abuses.  No one.  

It is not that President before Nixon had not abused their office.  I know too much history to ever assert that.  

Yet Ford's pardon of Nixon was something new -  at least in scope.  It was a blank check.  If Nixon had secretly raped or murdered or stolen millions in his capacity as President, it did not matter.  He walked way free.  

Ford argued that the country was returning to normal.  I respectfully disagree.  To ignore what happened and move on was an invitation to subsequent presidents to act with even more reckless impunity, and they did.

It meant that the rich and powerful could aspire to a different standard of justice for them, and get it.

It meant that the American people were denied important information about what those in the government were doing with the power we lent them to act on our behalf, and we are still denied information.

36 years ago tonight a President of the United States went on television to announce a full and unconditional pardon of his predecessor for all the wrongs he had done, known or unknown, in his misuse and abuse of the powers of an office first held by George Washington, held by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the two Roosevelts.  None were perfect, but all used the powers of the office they each held largely for the benefit of the American people, not to cover up their own misdeeds nor to advance a personal agenda not agreed to by the American people.  

I do not think the country has yet recovered from that blow to our system.

36 years ago Leaves on the Current was right, and I was very wrong.  

What Gerald Ford did damaged this nation.

We are still suffering.

We should not forget.

Originally posted to teacherken on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:24 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If nothing else, I have this hope (11+ / 0-)

    that at least a few people may, because of this diary either remember or perhaps learn for the first time of what happened that early September evening 36 years ago.

    Peace?

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:44:01 AM PDT

    •  What you say is true, ... (0+ / 0-)

      but we've learned nothing from it over the intervening thirty-six years. Not one damn thing.  For example, we're presently doing our best to elect Jerry Brown as governor of California.  Jerry is doing his best to keep the lid on over a billion dollars worth of corruption involving 2,100 judges.

      Sure, Meg Whitman's a worse candidate, and I won't be voting for her.  But you can bet that I cannot be persuaded to pull the lever for a known felon either.  The revealing part is that local democrats have known of Brown's involvement for at least a couple of years now, so a better (honest) candidate could have been put forward for the office.  Still, how many here will vote for Brown despite his being an undicted (so far) felon?  

      So far, the anti-corruption team I work with has miraculously managed to cause the resignations of two California judges involved, including kingpin Chief Justice Ronald M. George.  We are privy to information essentially confirming that indictments are coming.  These are only the first as there are thousands of judges involved, as well as the county supervisors who approved the payments (which served to boost their own incomes, which are set to match judges' salaries).

      So even if Jerry Brown survives until the tenth round of indictments, what will his imprisonment do to democrats' prospects for the future ... across the county?

      Here's where the concept of electing "better" democrats comes into play. Electing crooks just because they're campaigning beneath the correct party banner just won't cut it, there WILL be fallout.  Perhaps some day, political leaders will learn to actually think things through for a change, but the concept of using one's conscience as a voting tool is apparently too far off into the future to be of any help any time soon.

      For the factual background of the above, readers may wish to review "The Best Courts (Your) Money Could Buy" and thank their lucky stars if they live in another state because THIS one will be crashing and burning long before the road to recovery can be undertaken.  Those interested in reviewing commentary on the details of the corruption are invited to review a blog dedicated to the subject, "Right Trumps Might".

  •  I well remember those years......... (10+ / 0-)

      ...and the Watergate Hearings. You could figure a persons political affiliation by their answer to the question, "Are you watching the hearings on TV?" A Republican would sneer, pooh-pooh, and claim they paid no attention to them. A Democrat would generally be tuned in to every bit of it he could watch, absolutley fascinated and almost spellbound. Ah, weren't those the days?

    Compost for a greener planet....got piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:54:15 AM PDT

    •  We're Halderman, Erlichman, Mitchell and Dean (5+ / 0-)

      We're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.
      The way we've been treated is really obscene.
      To think that a bug worth hardly a shrug,
      Could end up by getting us tossed in the jug.

      We all got the gate for no reason or rhyme.
      You'd think we'd committed some horrible crime.
      Our minds may be dirty, but our hands are clean.
      We're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.

      We're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.
      Our job was to see that the White House stayed green.
      We might have had flaws, like bending the laws,
      But God only knows it was for a good cause.

      There's no power shortage where we were concerned.
      And what little profit resulted, we earned.
      Four lovlier fellows you never have seen,
      Than Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.

      We're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.
      Our past has been fat, but the future looks lean.
      With backs to the wall, we're taking the fall,
      But dammit, we only robbed Pete to pay Paul.

      Just when we getting to be well-to-do,
      The Watergate turned into our Waterloo.
      And now everybody is out to demean,
      Poor Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.

      Yes, we're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.
      We're perfectly willing to spill every bean.
      We've nothing to hide, with God on our side,
      He knows we were only along for the ride.

      But so it won't come as terrible blow,
      There's one little thing that we think you should know.
      Whatever we say isn't quite what we mean,
      We're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.

      Oh, yes, we're Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.
      Things won't be the same when we're gone from the scene.
      But people will still recall with a thrill,
      Our sell-out performance on Capitol Hill.

      It just isn't fair to take all of the blame,
      When all we were doing was playing the game.
      Now all of Washington's caught in between,
      Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean.

      32 cycles a second is low C.

      by Tuba Les on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:08:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  those were the days before C-SPAN (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, Hoghead99

      when it was novel to actually be able to watch a Congressional hearing on TV, much less in prime time.

      and they were also the days before the average person could afford time shifting.  VCRs had been invented but they cost thousands of dollars.  so you had to be home or in front of a TV to know what was going on.

      my mom was glued to them.  she wished she had one of those radios that brings in TV audio to take to work, since it was rare to have a TV at work then also.

      I have always wondered if the Watergate hearings were the reason C-Span was approved.  It was so expensive for the networks, even after the decision to rotate coverage, that the idea of having a whole station dedicated to covering important congressional votes and hearings made sense.

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
      I don't want to take my country back. I want to take my country FORWARD.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:41:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  perhaps the older folk here might consider (9+ / 0-)

    sharing for the younger how they reacted when they heard about the pardon, and why

    and if their attitude has changed, to what, and why

    peace.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:59:39 AM PDT

    •  I was not able to vote, yet (6+ / 0-)

      but I was quite informed.  My father was so angry, and a bit relieved as well, because he was quite sure that Ford had cost himself the next election.

      I have come to think that Ford really thought he was doing the right thing, and would not have seen the consequences of what he was doing.  He I am sure thought people would have seen this as a one-off extreme circumstance and would not have wanted to have it set a precedent.  He was a good man, but quite naive about what he was caught up in.  He believed that others felt the same way he did.  

      Remember people like Pat Buchanan and Dick Cheney came to the fore in Nixon and Ford's administration.  They clearly took the wrong message from Ford's forgiveness and decency.

      I tend to not feel as magnanimous, although I would be quite happy to accept that Gerald Ford is a better person than I am.

      •  I was about 16 then (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annetteboardman, Hoghead99
        I was following it to an extent, but was not able to vote. We were discussing it in school in some of our classes.

        At the time, I didn't take it as a blank check to allow a President a "Get out of Jail Free" card, and I don't think Ford did, either. He just thought it was time for the country to put Watergate behind and concentrate on other things. He didn't seem to be the kind to be in charge of a conspiracy.  

        I still think Jerry Ford was an honestly decent guy, perhaps a bit over his head in the Oval Office.

        "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

        by QuestionAuthority on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:45:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know if Ford was such a good man (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hoghead99

        He was, after all, a leader in Congress in the attempt to impeach Justice Douglas.

        Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

        by Nowhere Man on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:52:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Cheney was "whatever you can get away with" (4+ / 0-)

        from very early.

        When he saw that the president can get away with almost anything, his course was set.

        What could BPossibly go wrong?? -RLMiller

        by nosleep4u on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:22:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and remember, Cheney was a Nixon staffer (0+ / 0-)

          and Ford's Chief of Staff.  For all we know, Cheney set his agenda of consummate evil in motion even back then, advising Ford to pardon Nixon and create the precedent that would allow a future (Republicon) president the ability to do whatever the hell he wanted.

          "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
          I don't want to take my country back. I want to take my country FORWARD.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 06:11:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Cynical. (4+ / 0-)

      I thought it was probably a deal with Republican power brokers to fall on his sword to avoid more bad publicity as long as there was a pardon from Ford. I also considered it one of the blowback attributes of the Constitutional compromises resulting in lack of precise clarity with regard to such high level corruption.

      I doubt that the framers intentionally made provision for a Chief Executive in the process of impeachment and removal on criminal grounds to make such use of the wide open pardon power of a Chief Executive--his own or his successor's. Of course among the many things they did not clearly envision were political parties in which the top two executive spots would be such political allies either. Neither do I think they foresaw impeachment and removal as an exotic beast so rarely seen as to be almost mythical and one taking so long from bringing formal charges through impeachment and then a long drawn out trial in the Senate before removal. I suspect here they may have thought in parliamentary and a supreme Congress terms of quick, decisive votes.

      Our governing document is a pretty clever thing but it has some glaring little failures to see into a crystal ball and even consequences of change in understanding of language.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:43:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I posted my thoughts before seeing this (0+ / 0-)

      My comment is below.

      Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

      by Nowhere Man on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:49:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We were tired of all the battles: I pray that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nosleep4u

      that kind of "tired" does NOT really effect the effort to GOTV this NOV.

      Lesson learned:  the 'fight' is never over. Sometimes you just a break in the action.

      "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

      by deMemedeMedia on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:57:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm one of the older folks, and at the time (3+ / 0-)

      I was an independent voter.  I was a Democrat by nature but repulsed by their criminality her in Albany and voted accordingly.

      I was stunned.  I didn't see it coming and I was angry at the fact that he wasn't indicted and therefore could not be legally pardoned (to my way of thinking anyway).  I was angry.  I still am.  I get angry all over again as the republican history revisionists now claim that his only crime was that he lied about his part in a break-in of Democratic headquarters.


      The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

      by nupstateny on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:58:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Presidential pardon power is plenary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueMajority

        and as far as I know is absolute restrospectively -  that is, as long as the action(s) being pardoned have already occurred, it does not matter who committed them, when they were committed, whether there are indictments, convictions, or the actions are not yet generally known or even known to the President.

        Legally, a President could pardon himself on the way out of office.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:18:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I also knew a lot about what (3+ / 0-)

          was going on with many of the people working for Nixon.  All of that was a part of my angst for what Ford did, and I was right.  It all got swept under the rug.


          The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

          by nupstateny on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:34:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  and there was some talk (0+ / 0-)

          about whether W would do exactly that.

          Honestly, I think the only reason Bush didn't pardon himself was because he trusted the Rs in Congress to roadblock any investigation (that sadly, the O administration didn't even attempt) until they could take back the White House in 2012.

          "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
          I don't want to take my country back. I want to take my country FORWARD.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 06:18:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  i was a kid and i remember running (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKinTN, Hoghead99

      home (i mean literally running) to watch the watergate hearings. I loved sam ervin. when nixon was pardoned it shattered the beliefs i had been taught all my young life. i realized that all men are not created equal, that we are a nation of men and not laws and that the rules that applied to the poor and the weak did not apply to the rich and the powerful.

      i have always voted for dems and will do so until there is something better, but by the time i was able to vote i knew that i had a choice between two wings on the same turkey and neither wing represented me. nothing has happened since that time that has changed my opinion.

      To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

      by Tanya on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:05:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  it felt then like it still feels now--horrible (3+ / 0-)

      my mom immediately assumed there had been a deal with Ford in exchange for a pardon.  That's why a milquetoast with no national profile like Ford was able to get nominated as VP with the likelihood of impeachment already hanging in the air.

      plus even I as a politically aware teen was salivating at the prospect of Nixon standing trial much in the same way that folks now would love to see W stand trial.  we felt cheated out of forcing Nixon to admit the truth under oath.  we felt cheated out of what is now called the frog march.

      i know Nixon suffered a personal emotional price, and as I get older I realize just what a burden that must have been for him.

      but basically, it felt then like it feels now.  it feels like Nixon got away with it.  it set a precedent for future presidents: do whatever illegal things you want, and count on your party to find a way to pardon you.  It gave Reagan license for Iran-Contra, and gave W cover for all the crap he did.

      and the converse is also true: if the Republicons take back Congress in November, and are successful in impeaching Obama, and then take back the White House in 2012, Obama will NOT have any political cover, and after being forced out of office will also be forced into court after court and hearing after hearing.  The people who now are so insensibly enraged about having a black president will finally have their opportunity to humble and humiliate him and put him "back in his place" and it will be UGLY.  But his opponents will use a lot of high minded language about how "Nixon never had to account for what he did to the country and history has taught us not to make that mistake again."

      so it was a horrible disappointment back then, and teacherken is right about the precedent being disturbing.  it's one of the things i worry about when I speculate about the worst outcomes of a Republicon takeover.

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
      I don't want to take my country back. I want to take my country FORWARD.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 06:06:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wasn't a law student, but it came as a big (16+ / 0-)

    surprise to me that someone (President or not) could be pardoned before trial, or even before being indicted with a crime.

    George H. W. Bush pardoned the last two Iran-contra defendents before their trials started. One of them, Elliot Abrams, later turned up on Dubya Bush's National Security Council.

    If we have another Constitutional amendment, it should take the power to pardon and grant paroles away from the President and give it to a Federal pardon and paroles board, like the ones in the States.

    Sarah Palin ... speaks truth. It remains to be seen if this nation has enough sanity left to put her in office. -- A RW blogger.

    by Kimball Cross on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:12:27 AM PDT

    •  Presidential pardons (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nowhere Man, Kimball Cross, blue71340

      are too much of a political tool, though when Nixon was pardoned, I had some sympathy with Ford's decision. In hindsight, not so much so, but the media was becoming a means of bringing down people of all parties by the process of trial by scandal. Wilbur Mills, the Democratic senator who was instrumental in enacting Medicare was brought down that same year when he was caught with a prostitute by the police. I was just damn tired of gotcha politics. What I didn't realise then was that the Nixon pardon was also the beginning of IOKIYAR. He was pardoned, Mills was finished as a political player. To my credit, I turned Democratic at the next election, to the great distress of my Republican family, and have been one ever since.
      As far as public revelations in the '70s, I was much more impressed by the Pentagon Papers than Watergate, since Ellsberg, unlike Deep Throat, had the courage to break his findings overtly rather than under the cover of anonymity. Woodward and Bernstein became rightly famous for their reporting of Watergate, though the vibe I got was that they were opportunists rather than heroes. In Woodward's case, I haven't seen anything since to convince me otherwise.

      If nothing is very different from you, what is a little different from you is very different from you. Ursula K. Le Guin

      by northsylvania on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:47:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd rather see pardons (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kimball Cross

      simply go away for public officials.

      The number of times the pardon has been used properly on public officials is vanishingly small. It's been abused many many times. Those abuses have endangered the entire nation. IMO this is not even close to Jefferson's 10-to-1 rule. More like 100-million-to-0.2

      What could BPossibly go wrong?? -RLMiller

      by nosleep4u on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:43:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  With Watergate Being Uncovered In November (7+ / 0-)

    1972, Nixon won a landslide victory. Even in the wake of that popularity, the Democratic Senate began the investigation into Watergate in early 1973 that eventually led to Nixon's resignation. I'd compare that effort to fight the corruption of a popular President to the Democrats who after the 2006 election did not attempt to go after George Bush even though he had record disapproval ratings. Many say that the pardon (which killed Ford's honeymoon and led the way to his 1976 defeat) was a transparently corrupt act the deepened the cynicism of the sixties and seventies. Justice was denied then. It at least  moved further along than it has with the criminal actions of George W. Bush not being investigated.

    •  and Nixon resigned (5+ / 0-)

      because the Republicans on the hill came to him and told him that he had lost the Senate and the House, and they could no longer cover for him.  Does anyone think there is anyone on the hill who could stand up to a Republican president?  Of course, they stand up to a Democrat.  Sad, that, but shows again that the Dems generally believe in governing and working together (and then there is Ben Nelson...).

      •  a couple of points on this (3+ / 0-)

        among key people drafting the Articles of Impeachment were Republican Congressmen Butler of Virginia and Cohen of Maine -  yep, Bill Cohen, later Senator and then SecDef under Clinton.

        There was a group of Republican Senators, led by Minority Leader Hugh Scott of PA, who went and visited Nixon.  As the story came out later, Nixon acknowledged that the House would indict him, but wondered about his chances in the Senate, where  2/3 vote would be necessary to convict him.  Supposedly Barry Goldwater told Nixon that he would receive at most 10-12 votes on his side in the Senate, and that he - Goldwater - would not be among them.

        Goldwater that evening called Ben Bradley of the Post at home and told him Nixon was close to resigning, and if the Post would hold fire for a couple of days, he thought a resignation would happen, but worried if the Post continued to attack Nixon might dig in his heels.  That is documented by a public statement by Ben Bradlee.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:22:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks TeacherKen.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, Nowhere Man

    ..our resident griot, making sure we are reminded of the lessons of our history.

    Whatever the FOX GOP says, the opposite is the truth.

    by Forward is D not R on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:23:00 AM PDT

  •  What else could one expect.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xanthippe2

    ....from one of the principle persons who assisted in the cover-up of the JFK assassination (Ford served on the infamous Warren Comission)?  He played the role of the good-natured, bumbling fool so very well.

    Wilber

  •  Back in early 1974, I predicted that Nixon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pelagicray, J M F, nosleep4u, Hoghead99

    would be out of office by August 15th. I came pretty close.

    The unfortunate thing about the pardon is that it allowed Nixon's notion that when the president does something it is not illegal to stand. It served as the training ground for Dick Cheney.

  •  I have no problem with the pardon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aravir, SpamNunn

    It's a presidential prerogative and if a president is willing to live with the political consequences then it's fine.  

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:38:54 AM PDT

  •  Absolutely.... (6+ / 0-)

    I remember how offended I was at this pardon, it forever changed the way I thought about 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors'.  Many argued that Nixon had resigned (prior to being impeached) and that was punishment enough.  
    No.  
    Criminal acts were committed by Nixon etal. (and many of the etal. did go to prison but not Nixon) and lead the way to more criminal acts (without accountability) done to this Country by many more people in power.  It was like a blank check and there have been quite a few others writing from that checkbook.  
    Ford did a great disservice to this Country.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:43:04 AM PDT

    •  Couldn't agree more (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, Lilyvt, Hoghead99

      When one of us "small people" commits an egregious crime, we don't just lose our job and then retire to a mansion. That's the case for people like Nixon and its disgusting. His ilk should be behind bars and penniless, not pulling strings with their money behind the scenes.

      What could BPossibly go wrong?? -RLMiller

      by nosleep4u on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:49:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately President Obama (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tanya, J M F, Hoghead99

    has treated torture the same way without a prosecution or a pardon.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:44:40 AM PDT

  •  You have to also realize how it was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nowhere Man, Tanya

    and why it was that Gerald Ford was chosen to be our president.  It had to be agreed upon before he was chosen, that a pardon of Nixon would take place in order that the republicans could continue their power.

    Gerald Ford was not the gentle quiet transition from the criminal activity of Richard Nixon, he was a continuation.


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:46:35 AM PDT

    •  sorry, but you will have to provide evidence (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook

      for the assertion that Ford had to agree to pardon before Nixon would nominate him to replace Agnew.

      Ford was nominated because he could get confirmed.

      There may have been discussion before Nixon resigned, but again there is no evidence on the public record that Ford had committed to a pardon.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:24:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're absolutely right that there is no (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueMajority

        public record about what I perceive as an agreed upon pardon.  They weren't that dumb.


        The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

        by nupstateny on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:38:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It seems obvious that given (0+ / 0-)

        human nature and Washington's corruption, and the fact Nixon was involved, there's a near certainty such an agreement existed. You don't really think Tricky Dick was willing to take his chances in the courts, do you? Offered the presidency in return for letting RMN off the hook, Ford jumped at it. Expecting to find proof got left lying around, well, that seems a bit silly. Doesn't it?

        As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

        by Wom Bat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:12:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I remember being outraged by the pardon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, Tanya

    I wondered where this "tranquility" was that Ford spoke of, and what harm there could be in a "prolonged and divisive debate" that Ford seemed to think was such a danger to the country.

    I was 12 years old at the time.

    Today, I still don't get it.

    Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

    by Nowhere Man on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:47:39 AM PDT

  •  It was a precendent that forever changed how we (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J M F, Hoghead99

    view prosecuting the office of the Presidency in future issues of criminal misconduct.

    Thank you for the informative and reminder diary on just what occurred on this day.

    Cheers

    "I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean I love the country but I can't stand the scene." - Leonard Cohen (Democracy)

    by LamontCranston on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:51:00 AM PDT

  •  I have long referred to this as "The Nixon Virus" (8+ / 0-)

    that has infected almost all of our government. The "pardon" in this case was given even before a trial, thus there was never any bleach or sunshine applied.

    At the time I agreed with you. I was so anti-Nixon, anti-war, pro-civil rights, pro-women's lib then. There were so many fights to fight and getting rid of Nixon was enough of a victory for me.

    Now, in my graying years I am agreeing with you that we were wrong.

    The latest example had to be the Blago juror who stated that she held her "not guilty" opinion because his actions were just "politics as usual".

    "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

    by deMemedeMedia on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:52:54 AM PDT

  •  Pardon me? (0+ / 0-)

    The pardon allowed Nixon to avoid accepting the blame he so richly deserved. We all KNEW he was a crook, but Nixon never had to be held accountable. Even today, there are many that believe it was all political.

    It cost Ford the chance to get elected in 1976.

    32 cycles a second is low C.

    by Tuba Les on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:56:33 AM PDT

  •  In a government by, of, and for the people, (6+ / 0-)

    criminal acts by our representatives are investigated, prosecuted and punished.

    In a government by, of, and for the corporations, stability is prized above all.

    "The Universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it." Marcus Aurelius

    by Mosquito Pilot on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:56:56 AM PDT

  •  watching Nixon croak was #1 on my bucket list (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoghead99
    Hidden by:
    TrueBlueMajority

    and yes, it felt good. Now Karl Rove holds his place.  Cheney is too easy, even with an artificial heart but he's #2.

    OK! You've scared the shit outta me, I'll vote for "our" ticket even though I'm sick over what's happening.

    by tRueffert on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:17:43 AM PDT

  •  Nixon left in disgrace. All Ford did was stop (0+ / 0-)

    the bleeding.  That trial would have made this Country as polarized as it is now twenty years earlier.   I think he did the right thing, for the Country.

    Don't say that no one was punished.  It cost him re-election.  

    Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them. - Clausewitz

    by SpamNunn on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:36:47 AM PDT

  •  Nixon's pardon fostered Cheney et al's crimes. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, J M F

    And this sequence hasn't ended. Nixon-era figure Dick Cheney and others remain unpunished for their G. W. Bush-era crimes during 2001-2009.

    Gerald Ford taught Cheney et al they could get away with anything. And so far, they have. Barack Obama, by nixing any criminal investigation of Cheney et al, has helped them do so.

    Gerald Ford 1974 --->Barack Obama 2009-2010--->Lawlesness at the top continues, 2010.                                          

    It's a straight line. Sorry, but Blame Where Blame Belongs. Overlooking crimes carries consequences. History will likely judge President Obama's not bringing Bush-era figures to justice among his worst mistakes.

    As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

    by Wom Bat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:44:16 AM PDT

  •  end of constitutional governance? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoghead99

    it has been a slow motion destruction of the rule of law in this country

    compare the charges on Nixon to the charges on Clinton of lying about a sexual encounter

    then compare the explicitly illegal things Bush did which are now continued by Obama

    and with the Citizens United decision the unlimited election funds from the super wealthy and the corporations pour into the elections which make it less likely that the legislative branch will overturn the oligarchy and the military, security, industrial complex

    put this all together and the question arises:

    can we ever get our republic back?

  •  Tricky Dick provided my political awakening...... (0+ / 0-)

      ...saw part of his speech announcing the withdrawal of all American forces from Cambodia (1970), we were on our way there!

      Not only that, there were LOTS of our guys there when we arrived. Living in town, wearing civvies, but they were there.

      I thought, "Wow, Nixon went on national TV and lied his arse off."

      The big question left for me regarding the pardon is: was it arranged prior to Ford's nomination as VP? The wry joke at the time was, "Pardon me, and I'll make you VP." We'll never know the answer.

      I remember LBJ's quip about Jerry Ford, "He played too much football without a helmet."

    Compost for a greener planet....got piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 06:49:58 AM PDT

  •  you should have known the girlfriend was right (0+ / 0-)

    if she presented her side of the argument as you just did - "It meant that the rich and powerful could aspire to a different standard of justice for them, and get it."

    In this country, never argue for a separate standard of justice for anyone. But we were all younger then and if we didn't buy "Nixon's pardon", all of us bought in to some stupid stuff.

  •  I read a book on Ford (0+ / 0-)

    A few months back called, "Write It When I'm Gone". Bought it at an overstocked store for $2, which was about right!  But it did give a new understanding of the run up to Nixon's resignation that I hadn't heard before.

    In an insane society, the sane man would appear insane

    by TampaCPA on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 06:57:01 PM PDT

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