Gerald Ford, the 38th president, died last week at age 93.
Bloggers have editorial freedom to comment on any event or thought, although the implied contract with readers mandates there should be some useful or interesting information in each blog posting. Often, a blogger will comment on a news event citing their personal involvement with the person of interest. I will use that as the thinnest pretext to comment on the passing of President Ford.
In retrospect, his pardoning of President Nixon seems wise and timely. Instead of the nation going over the minutia of what a former president directly ordered and how much was covered up criminally, it was much better to look forward and deal with the problems and challenges of the 70's. There was still a war in Southeast Asia and other problems needing attention. It was time to move on, though the public didn't want to let go of the public scandal yet.
So, pardoning ex-President Nixon was the right thing to do. It came as a shock to everyone, though, because everyone wondered if some backroom deal had been made before Gerald Ford was appointed Vice President. He should have begun his speech to the public explaining that it's time to move on, that whatever Nixon had done was relatively unimportant after he had resigned. That kind of speech would have prepared us for "Therefore, in the nation's interest to face the present challenges... I hereby unconditionally pardon Richard Nixon."
I think that would have been more understood by the public.
In the presidential debate with Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford stated he did not believe that the Communists were in control of Poland. It was years later, in the late 1980s, that a trickle of people were allowed into Western Europe from Communist satellite nations. The trickle became a flood, and soon there was no domination of Eastern Europe by Russia.
Anyway, getting back to the thinnest pretext for writing this blog entry, I read in the daily newspaper the day after the Berlin Wall fell an editorial by Gerald Ford, ex-President defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election. He recounted his statement in the presidential debates, saying that at the time, he was trying to make a statement that the Polish people did not consider themselves part of the Communist empire, and he thought he was using inspirational poetic language to describe the spirit of freedom yearned for behind the Iron Curtain. He said he was surprised that people interpreted it as him not knowing the political reality of Eastern Europe at the time.
But he waited until the occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall before really explaining it. If he had communicated better at the time, he might have been elected president in 1976.