Watching the TV news and reading the print and e-media coverage of the death and several funerals (?) for former president Gerald Ford has presented what I believe to be one of the most teachable moments in modern American history. Instead, we are treated to a highly polished act of historical whitewash. It starts with the sanitization of history that precedes the death of any past American president, when the major media prepare the official picture of the decedent's import to the office and the nation. (See link below.)
In the instant case, Gerald Ford is cast as the accidental president, never elected to the office; the perfect salve to the wounded spirit of the nation, whose immediate pardoning of Richard Nixon, while upsetting at the time, has turned out to be the most admired of his brief term of office.
Hogwash! (But where to begin, and how to finish this screed before my hunger encourages me to go to the kitchen and make dinner?)
Among the first decisions Ford made upon his ascension to the Oval Office, even prior to that of pardoning Nixon, if memory serves, was the decision to hire Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. In fact, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld have each eulogized Ford at one of the many funerals. (If these are the type of people that toast you when you're dead, can anyone doubt that the media image of you as the perfect anything is skewed? Of course, an argument could be made that few members of Ford's generation are still alive, or coherent enough to make a speech. Remember those pictures of Deepthroat standing in his daugher's doorway with his old man pants and walker?)
Here in 2007, I am thinking, "WHY am I being told over and over again that Nixon's impeachment would have harmed the nation?"
I believe there is just a chance that a true investigation of the crimes of the Nixon administration, and severe punishment for those crimes, would have radically altered the history of this nation and the subsequent actions of each occupant of the White House since that time. (Of course, to make such a conclusion, one has to suspend one's awareness that the highest levels of government and corporate power are occupied, and nearly always have been, by the lowest and sleaziest class of common thug.)
For the sake of argument, let's say that Gerald Ford and Congress took a hard line against the crimes of Nixon and his White House and decided not to shield Nixon from prosecution and possible imprisonment. Would this not have provided a powerful example of the risks of participating in criminal gangsterism at the highest level of power? Would this not have been a vigorous incentive to other observers to respect the Constitution and the rule of law in their government "service"? Would Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others have learned any lessons from such an example? Would we be where we are today if they had?
From an alternative perspective to the glowing tributes to Ford being trumpeted in the major media, I read this week that Ford is viewed by some as one of America's best presidents, namely because he was not around long enough to screw anything up too bad. I believe he screwed up REAL bad on a lot of things, but I'll name three just to kick off the conversation, if anyone wants to participate:
1. He hired Rumsfeld and Cheney,
2. He green-lighted the carnage in East Timor and arming the Indonesian military for the genocide,
3. He pardoned Richard M. Nixon.
Thirty years later, George W. Bush is another accidental president, wholly unqualified for the job and, following Ford, the second in our history never to be elected to the office. Unfortunately, no one will be able to say that Mr. Bush didn't screw anything up. When "history" is written about him, it will be quite hard for anyone to think of any single thing he has done right! I hope I am alive on the day of George W. Bush's death so that I can witness what the major media (if it still exists) has to say about his "legacy".
To tie it all together before dinner, I'll Bush has screwed up REAL bad on a lot of things, but I'll name three regrets:
1. He hired Rumsfeld and Cheney,
2. He green-lighted the carnage in Iraq,
3. He will not be impeached.
link to video.google.com