Former U.S. president Gerald Ford is dead at the ripe old age of ninety-three.
There is a tendency to whitewash history whenever an ex-president dies, and the ongoing slap in the face to history (not to mention millions of Americans) now occurring in the wake of Ford's demise is no exception.
This is the Truth Zone, and like it or not the truth must always be told--no matter how unpleasant.
And it is this: Gerald Ford, by most accounts a truly nice guy who was respected and even liked by many, pardoned a disgraced former president for high crimes he committed in office. That one action has had far-reaching consequences both horrible and obscene, and that will continue to haunt our nation to its end.
Richard Nixon resigned the presidency rather than be impeached by Congress. His lies and his crimes in office, which included illegally spying on American citizens and ordering the break-in at the Watergate Hotel to obtain sensitive information on the Democratic Party, helped to further injure the American psyche, which was already reeling from the horrors of the Vietnam era.
The team of "plumbers," as they were called due to their job of plugging up "leaks" coming out of the executive branch, botched this particular job and were arrested. It has been speculated that the "plumbers" were trying to plant listening devices so Nixon could spy on the Democrats, which had based its national headquarters at the Watergate. As the news story developed, it came out that among those arrested for the break-in was a former CIA spook by the name of James McCord. McCord's official job at the time happened to be with the aptly titled Committee to RE-Elect the President (CREEP).
CREEP was eventually exposed as being tied to the "plumbers" via diverted funds controlled by former Attorney General John Mitchell. The Washington Post reported that the break-in was part of an organized effort on the part of Nixon's re-election campaign of spying and sabotage. Nixon was in it up to his eyeballs, as was the rest of his administration.
Coming on the heels of the lies of the Vietnam war, told by power-hungry politicians who abused the public trust (with the price being American and Vietnamese blood), this outrage prived to be the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
The writing was on the wall; people directly involved in the break-in, from John Dean to McCord, were spilling their guts and putting CYA into full effect. Nixon then took extreme steps to protect his own ass, openly trying to shut down the investigation of his crimes and coming into open conflict with Congress. The president had created a Constitutional crisis unprecedented in the history of the United States, and became the prime conspirator in the biggest cover-up in American history--all to try and save his own neck from the noose.
By the time the shit had hit the fan, it was all over for Richard Nixon's presidency. The U.S. House of Representatives began drafting the Articles of Impeachment. On August 9, 1974 Nixon resigned the office of the presidency in disgrace.
Richard Milhouse Nixon had dragged the United States of America through a hell of his own making, all in the interests of his own paranoid ambitions. His crimes, his cover-up of said crimes, and confrontations with Congress tore apart a nation that was in the throes of the most divisive war in its history. He was a selfish, lying, heartless piece of shit utterly devoid of any human feeling except fear and contempt -- one for himself, and the other for everyone else and everything America was supposed to stand for.
Nixon flew off on an airplane to his political exile. He should have been taken in handcuffs and ankle chains to a federal prison.
But the wounds Nixon inflicted on America, with Watergate as his weapon, would never heal. Vice President Gerald Ford, who was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States an hour after his predecessor's resignation, decided for some unfathomable reason that putting the fucker in prison for the rest of his miserable life would somehow cause more damage. So, one month after his predecessor left the White House in disgrace, Ford issued a full pardon for Nixon.
I want you, dear reader, to think about what I have told you. I want you to think about all the shit Richard Nixon did to this country, and what the ramifications of Ford's pardon were. The 38th president of the United States was rightly voted out of office in a landslide in 1976. To a peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter, who was one of those very rare politicians to actually mean it when he said he would restore honesty and integrity to the White House.
Carter's successor, Republican Ronald reagan, and vice president George H.W. Bush would go on to commit treason against the United States in the 1980s by selling weapons to a declared enemy state -- Iran -- and using the profits to fund a terrorist army in Nicaragua trying to overthrow the democratically-elected government. Both men managed to lie their way out of impeachment proceedings, because the Congress of that decade took to heart Ford's misguided message that punishing criminal and treasonous executives would somehow do more harm to the nation than good. Once again, America was damaged by way of letting a criminal president get away with criminal acts that in the case of Iran/Contra were also treasonous.
George H.W. Bush went on to become president himself, unfettered by the shackles of impeachment -- which forbid impeached officials from ever holding public office again. Bush would launch a war against iraq over what amounted to a border dispute with neighboring Kuwait. A permanent American military presence was established in the land of Mecca, Islam's holiest city. Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden, fresh from helping Afghanistan repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, saw this and determined that Isalm itself was under attack by the West -- and America became the embodiment of everything he saw wrong with the West.
Republicans, who had swept into control of Congress in 1994, actually did cause harm to America by impeaching president Bill Clinton for lying about an extramarital affair. They went on to keep control of Congress in the following election cycle, and also managed to steal the presidency through electoral fraud and an illegal Supreme Court ruling placing George W. Bush in an office he neither won nor deserved.
Bush Jr. went on to lie us into an invasion and occupation of Iraq, having allowed a major terrorist attack by al-Qaeda to happen on American soil on his watch, and having abandoned the fight against the organization in Afghanistan. Bush has illegally wiretapped American citizens, and with the aid of a compliant, Republican-controlled Congress gutted the Constitution. High crimes and treason in office, worthy of impeachment and imprisonment. Just like Richard Nixon.
I want you, dear reader, to think back on Ford's pardoning of Nixon and imagine what might have happened if he had allowed the skeevy fucker to be convicted and sent to prison.
Iran/Contra might not have happened, because Reagan and Bush Sr. would have been able to look at what happened to Nixon once he was caught and had second thoughts. Maybe, having sold weapons to Iran anyway, they might have been impeached and removed from office by a Congress that learned from precedent that if a president breaks the law, he should be held accountable. The first Gulf War might not have happened, because of Bush Sr. being unable to run for president after being impeached. And George W, Bush would never have been able to steal the presidency, the American people having the memory of a convicted traitor from the Bush crime family with which to sweep another Democrat into office.
While Ford's reasoning for pardoning Nixon were probably noble, the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. That one horrible decision that rightly cost him election in 1976 cost America and the rest of the world literally millions of lives in the following decades. The smallest decision by a world leader has ramifications that reach out and affect people across time and continents.
This is why any president, be he alive or newly dead, must be judged based on the whole truth. And it is why the whitewash of history following the death of Ford is so tragicly detrimental, not only to this nation but to future generations and history itself. His pardoning of Nixon did not heal the nation in the aftermath of Watergate. It merely caused the wounds inflicted to fester and worsen.