Gerald Ford: Threat or Menace?

The recent thread on the scheduled release of one of his attempted assassins reminded me of something I wanted to ask. As a non-American, I don’t know much about some of your Presidents. One in particular, Gerald Ford, I only know because he pardoned Richard Nixon. In my mind this has always seemed to be an unforgivable atrocity, but I’ve never noticed much vitriol thrown his way.

So tell me, dopers: did the man’s later actions make up for pardoning Nixon? Or was pardoning Nixon not as bad as I’ve always believed?

Gerald Ford is the only unelected president. He got thrown into the job because of the Watergate scandal and subsequent resignations. The reason you don’t hear much about him is that his term was pretty bland but he was a likable guy in general. That is about all there is to it from my point of view.

Ford is dead, so neither.

Unless Zombie Ford makes an appearance, that is.

His thinking in pardoning Nixon was that a criminal trial of a former president would have torn the country apart to an unacceptable degree. Obviously, one can disagree with this decision, and indeed it arguably cost him the '76 election. Still, I think it’s a measure of Ford’s perceived personal integrity that his critics generally have never contended that his decision was made capriciously or not in good faith.

He’s the only president I’ve met. He looked and acted like a president to a six-year-old on the tarmac of an air force landing strip.

Sort of. Tyler, A. Johnson, and Arthur all ascendend to the presidency upon the death of their predecessor and were not re-elected. But Ford was the only person to serve as Vice President and President without being elected to either office.

As to the OP, **Tom Tildrum **has it pretty much right. Aside from the pardon, his administration was pretty uneventful, and he was made fun of as a klutz, but seldom did anyone impugn his character or integrity.

There was and is quite a bit of speculation that the pardon was a reward to Nixon for allowing him to become President. But there was never any evidence of that, Ford’s explanation showed that is was the result of him wrestling with what he saw as the conflict between the interest of the nation and the interest of justice, and he had never done anything to suggest he wanted to be President anyway. Even those who thought he made the wrong decision generally recognize that he made it properly, and that his motives were proper.

While he made mistakes as President, there was no questioning that he was honest and diligent, exactly what was needed.

Ford was regarded as bland but essentially honest. Which were probably good characteristics for the period when he was President. In addition to the Watergate scandal, he was also president when South Vietnam fell, two serious NATO crises, the Mayaquez capture by North Korea, the CIA “Family Jewels” scandal, ongoing global terrorism, the end of the Yom Kippur War and the start of the Lebanese Civil War, and a major economic downturn. So the fact that people look back on his administration and think nothing happened during it is actually a tribute to him. He kept things quiet when there were numerous possibilities for trouble.

He was our most athletic President as well. Pictures of him in his prime are pretty impressive, and he was a standout football player for Michigan. He also was a good boxer, basketball player, and skier, and his golf game was impressive later in his life.

Well, he did issue a warning that’s quite relevant today:

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

Teddy Roosevelt ranks with him.

Evidently, Washington was quite the equestrian. Not to mention that silver dollar incident. :eek:

For what it’s worth, Bob Woodward says that in interviews with Ford the motivation for Nixon’s pardon was primarily personal friendship.

Yea…but that’s not a fair comparison. A dollar could go farther in those days.

While he was office, I distinctly remember the case being made that Ford was the Center of all Evil in the Universe. You see Ford was part of the Warren Commission which covered up the Red plot to kill JFK. As a reward for his help, the Illuminate made him president.


Unforgivable atrocity? Killing your parents and serving them to you in a bowl of chili is an unforgivable atrocity. Hounding a president who already resigned because he covered up a theft committed by his minions is not. We have a person in the current administration who didn’t pay his taxes and was hired after cutting a check to cover the balance. In fact, he’s IN CHARGE of collecting taxes.

Pardoning Nixon was not that big a deal to me. I would have preferred he be prosecuted, but realistically, what good would it have done? The resignation provides all the deterrence required for the crime. It’s not like he was going to go out and cover up a bunch more burglaries, so why bother? And I voted for Gerald Ford, so I should know.

But then I voted for Nixon, too.
Only once. I learn slowly, but I learn.

Watergate was one hell of a lot more than a tawdry burglary. Nixon was forced out for a broad pattern of abuse of power and mental unfitness, which only came to light because of the burglary investigation. The enemies list, using the FBI and IRS audits, wiretapping, I don’t even remember what all.

This is handwaving and “a theft” is also a poor description of the Watergate break in. You may be aware it was an attempt to influence the result of an election by spying on the president’s political opponents. In any case, prosecuting a man who was involved in a crime is not hounding him, it’s justice. I wasn’t around when Ford pardoned Nixon, so I don’t know if it really would have ripped the country apart, but my inclination is that Ford screwed it up and did what politicians usually do - place themselves above the law.

Eh, any kindness shown toward Nixon was a wasted effort and probably an injustice to everyone who deserves kindness and doesn’t get it. That’s atrocious, but probably not an atrocity.

What does that fictional scenario have to do with Nixon? What Nixon was covering up was an attempt to steal the United States of America.* Electoral manipulation is probably the only serious threat to the continued functioning of the USA, and certainly treason.

*The fact that it was a ham-handed and weak attempt doesn’t mean the parties involved weren’t acting with malice for personal and political gain.