Gerald Ford: He Wasn’t a Crook

(Photo: The History Place)

Yes, Gerald Ford was better than Richard Nixon, but that faint praise is the highest encomium he’ll receive in the next few days. Perhaps a better way to look at it is to say the one good thing Nixon ever did was to appoint Ford vice president.

As a policymaker, Ford had few accomplishments. His response to staggering price increases was to wear a button saying, “Whip Inflation Now.” He oversaw the humiliating retreat of U.S. troops from South Vietnam.

It’s become popular to say Ford was courageous in pardoning Nixon and that the pardon helped “heal the nation.” That’s the kind of thing it’s nice to say about avuncular old statesmen when they die. But Ford’s pardon created a precedent that effectively gives U.S. presidents immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in office. After all, if we wouldn’t prosecute the kind of crimes Nixon committed, what would we prosecute?

— Gregory Flannery

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2 Comments on “Gerald Ford: He Wasn’t a Crook”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    War criminals Ford and Kissinger gave the greenlight for a US backed Indonesian invasion into East Timor where 1/3 of the population was massacered. They met with General Suharto the day before and told him to be quick about it before it drew too much negative international and congressional attention. I believe the number of deaths was about 200,000 if I recall correctly. They used US made weapons and continued militray funding afterwards.

    I’m curious about what you mean when you say “He oversaw the humiliating retreat of U.S. troops from South Vietnam.” I can’t imagine that you think we should’ve been there or shouldn’t have pulled out. That kind of jumped out at me.

    The best way to “heal the nation” would be to put these war criminals on trial and expose the history of US foriegn policy/crimes.

  2. mc Says:

    The reason that some people remember Ford with fondness is that he replaced an imperial president who was as criminal as we had seen up to then. Of course, this was long before the Cheney/Bush admin and we had no way of knowing that we would end up with worse in the future. Everything seems better in retrospect, of course.

    It was enough that he was not a criminal. We were grateful for anyone who showed up and wasn’t insane. If you don’t recall, we had the unwinnable war, the oil problems, the economic problems, the labor issues, you name it. What we didn’t need was more of Nixon and his gang of ludicrous operatives. We had enough to deal with at the time.

    Whether or not Ford should have pardoned Nixon is debatable. Whether or not he was a “great” president doesn’t even matter. He was not overcome with ambition, not a power hungry wacko, not an illiterate idiot, not a sick creep who kept lists of whom to spy on and most importantly, not Nixon. That was enough for us at the time and that was what we cared about.

    Ford inherited a complete mess and did his best with what he had at the time. Since he never aspired to the presidency during the Nixon years, we did not hear of his work in the House. We didn’t know him but we hoped for the best. That he survived the aftermath of the Nixon disintegration was good enough. We were all doing our best to survive at the time and Ford served his purpose.

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