Thursday, December 28, 2006
(President from 1974-1976, 38th)
By Richard E. Noble
Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (biological name) otherwise known as Gerald Rudolf Ford, Jr. received the most extensive background check of any president of the United States. That’s because he was appointed by Congress and not elected by the people. He was selected by Congress via direction of the twenty-fifth amendment to the Constitution.
Spiro Agnew had been forced to resign under criminal charges relating to tax evasion and taking bribes, and Richard Nixon and the Congress were appointed the task of selecting a vice president and, under the Watergate circumstances, a possible future president.
After Nixon’s resignation, Nelson Rockefeller was selected as Ford’s vice president. This is the first time in the history of the American presidency that neither the president nor the vice president was elected by the people.
The Congress must have been exhausted from all of their investigations into the “squeaky clean” Gerald Ford and had no heart for pursuing a similar course with the vise presidency. But then again almost anybody looked clean when placed aside Richard Nixon - even Nelson Rockefeller.
It is said that Gerald Ford was selected because of his honesty, decency and his “unimpeachable” character. This may be the case to some, but the fact that he was a diehard, right wing, conservative Republican certainly didn’t hurt. His loyal, yeoman duty on the Warren Commission investigating the Assassination of JFK I would imagine served him favorably also. And his congressional economic managing on the committee funding the C.I.A. and defense spending probably didn’t hurt either.
My guess is that if you asked Jerry who his presidential idol was, if he were true to his George Washington cherry tree status, he would select Herbert Hoover.
Jerry’s answer to the economic problems of his day were right out of the Hoover handbook; give big business and the wealthy and super wealthy a tax cut; increase spending on internal and external security, cut minimum wage to working people, and stop any social spending, while guaranteeing a “free market” to all foreign and international investors and traitors - I mean traders. He also voted to weaken civil rights legislation; he voted against the establishment of Medicare and denounced Johnson’s War on Poverty as a lot of washed up old programs. Johnson in return is quoted as saying of Ford; “He is a nice fellow but he spent too much time playing football without a helmet.” Jerry did believe in fighting inflation; but to a Republican all that means is firing a lot of working people, raising interest payments on mortgages, and giving the super wealthy extremely attractive interest rates on their Treasury bonds.
Ford was an all-out Nixon fan. He adopted nearly the entire Nixon cabinet. He even defended Nixon against charges of Nixon’s personal involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
He criticized Johnson’s Vietnam policy for not being tough enough or dropping enough bombs. He was also a Barry Goldwater fan. He didn’t end the Vietnam War and probably wouldn’t have. He was strongly anti-Communist, never even spoke out against McCarthy, and he was heavy on defense and defense spending. He was on the Appropriation’s Committee and became prominent on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. In his retirement he helped out at AMAX, GK Technologies, and Santa Fe International. The Vietnam War ended only after the Congress, pushed by enormous public pressure, refused to renew any more spending for the War.
It is also said that “possibly” Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard M. Nixon was a factor in his defeat in the presidential election of 1976. It is not only possible but highly likely. The American people were not happy with what they considered the let’s-make-a-deal antics of the obviously corrupt Republican administration. Ford even went before Congress to testify about a conversation that he had privately with General Haig, Nixon’s envoy in the matter. Haig supposedly propositioned him on the notion of a pardon and Jerry refused. Which hardly explained that one month after assuming the presidency, Ford granted Nixon a FULL pardon from all and any crimes that Nixon may have committed while serving as president. So he made the deal while not making any deal.
Republicans are always hot to point out that the “American people” were really not all that upset, and that the 1978 election between Jimmy Carter and Jerry was very close. And so it was. Even in the popular vote, Jimmy only won by a million and a half votes. But one must always remember that even in the most popular of American Presidential elections only half of the American people care enough to vote. And in this election the half who did vote picked an unknown peanut farmer from Georgia over the incumbent president. I should think that alone would be statement enough.
I have never bought Jerry’s explanation for pardoning Richard M. Nixon. At the least Nixon should have been tried and found guilty and then pardoned. The issue would then have been settled and no contrary claims could ever have been made by any diehard Nixon fans or relatives. It would have been established once and for all that Richard Nixon was a crook plain and simple.
Gerald Ford did point out in his memoirs that he did make Richard Nixon sign a paper (a part of his resignation) admitting his guilt. So even though Nixon was not brought to official justice the American people would know forever that Richard Nixon was a cook and had admitted to his crimes. But how many Americans even know today of this signature and this admission of guilt?
My personal opinion is that the Republican Party of that day could not have withstood a serious outside criminal investigation of their affairs. To say that the American people couldn’t handle the trauma was ridiculous. It is like letting a murderer go Scott free because the victim’s family supposedly could not stand to go through the trial. The American people would have liked nothing better than to see Richard Nixon brought to justice - certainly this American person. And the notion that Gerald Ford would have been too distracted to perform his duties as president and Commander in Chief is an equal joke. A president’s ability to handle his responsibilities certainly wasn’t of concern to the Republicans when it came to the Clinton administration. Who’s kidding who here?
The Republicans had all they could handle with Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Eichmann and Herman Goering - or am I getting my political parties mixed up here?
The Democrats went along because they were probably in no more “honorable” condition. The Republicans had Nixon but the Democrats had Johnson and they both had Vietnam and the Military Industrial Complex up to their ears. What Americans should know and remember is that war, any war, means lots and lots of “free” money for piles and piles of people and industries - that is a fact of war, my friends - and it cannot be denied. It can be rationalized and justified given one war or another - but it can not be denied.
What we should have been investigating is not Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson or the politics of Vietnam or Diem or Lieutenant Calley - we should have been investigating military expenditures and procurements, over-spending, false bookkeeping, and overall excess profits and war profiteering. We should have been investigating the proliferators of war and not their puppets and unfortunate dupes. But that wasn’t even the case in Nuremberg after World War TI - so why should we have expected it with Vietnam.
Actually the biggest thing that I remember during the Ford Administration was the Mayaguez Incident in May of 1975. That was a big deal in the newspapers. Cambodian gunboats seized the Mayaguez, a merchant ship. In a daring rescue two days later U.S. forces recovered the vessel. Thirty-nine crewmen were saved - of course 41 Americans were killed in the preparation and execution of the operation - but all of America was proud once again.
Jerry also offered clemency to Draft evaders and deserters from the Vietnam Police Action. This proposal really POed the VFW. They were basically of the opinion that all of these type people should simply be shot. The sad part of their action was that they had escaped a proper firing squad.
But to the draft evaders and deserters who believed that they had stood up to an unjust demand and acted in accordance with human moral conscience, the clemency offer with all of its provisions was hardly acceptable. Evaders would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States and serve two years of public service and any deserter would also be required to swear allegiance and serve two additional years in whatever branch of the service they had defected from. The defectors and deserters on the other hand felt that they were more in line for a medal for exemplary service to mankind in the avoidance of crimes against humanity. So Jerry’s offer of clemency was not really much of a hit with either side.
Actually “Squeaky” Fromme, a Charles Manson disciple, just missed getting the “hot seat” over her “affair” with Jerry. Her Colt 45, though fired point blank and within inches from the president had no bullet in the chamber. She was mighty lucky - but Jerry was even luckier. Then Sara Jane Moore in San Francisco on September 22 tried to get Jerry with a .38. You know Jerry was once a male model and a football star. He was offered a professional contract by both the Green bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Girls were supposed to be on the sidelines cheering for this guy. What was it with these girls?
What I liked best about Jerry is the fact that he denounced his real biological, wife-beating rich-twitch father and even changed his name to that of his adopted dad. I am also quite proud of Jerry because he fried hamburgers in a greasy-spoon somewhere, washed dishes at the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, bused tables at the university hospital dining room, worked in an amusement park, and as a park ranger feeding bears and directing traffic. He was obviously a working stiff who was willing to take any job no matter how demeaning - even work in Congress and a year or two as President of the United States after Richard Nixon was not below his dignity and work ethic. He was my kind of guy.
Jerry was really left with the dirty end of the stick when he became president. Not only did he have to clean up Tricky Dickey’s White House fiasco; Nixon’s creative campaign financing via F.B.I., C.I.A., and I.R.S.; he had Vietnam to deal with also, not to mention problems in the economy. Everything was a mess. But, nevertheless, Gerald Ford will have to go down in the annuals of American history not only as Mr. Nixon’s replacement but as Richard “Tricky Dickey” Nixon’s best friend.