We Beg Your Pardon, Mr. President

For a young punk like me there’s nothing quite as irritating as seeing this country fight battles my parents fought when they were my age and seeing us poorer in the present. Whenever the casket is nailed shut on a leader of that era there’s an orgy of historical revisionism, and we become poorer still. The funeral becomes a forum for self-serving political proclamations.

I’m ranting, of course, about the public ceremonies for President Ford.

Today’s Beltway villains have gathered about his refrigerated corpse to say thanks for clearing their path to power, and to rehabilitate his act of partisan weakness into a categorical imperative. They wish to enshrine not a President, but a precedent. Today they talk about how he healed a nation and tomorrow they’ll defend their own treason by pointing to Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon.

Forgive this young punk for feeling a little cheated by a V.P. with lesser moral character, a lapdog press, a cartilage Congress, an Secretary of State who makes things worse every time she speaks and a President… oh sweet mother of… A President who has reduced his country from ‘lone super-power’ in an international regime of its own design, to a mere hegemon in an anarchic international system. Forgive me for feeling cheated by a cartel of sociopaths so innovative in their malevolence that they have reduced my parents’ Articles of Impeachment to relative misdemeanors. It’s hard not to assign some of this blame to Gerald Ford.

“He always put the needs of his country before his own, and did what he thought was right, even when those decisions were unpopular,” Bush said. (link)

The Iraq War is the Vietnam War in the desert instead of the jungle, and the present White House is infested by crude criminals just like it was in 1973. Spiro Agnew had the decency to resign, the media had the guts to print the Pentagon Papers, Congress had the spine to start impeachment hearings over Watergate, Kissinger was an evil genius and Nixon’s China Policy really was a victory of foreign policy. As I said, we’re poorer in the present.

“It was this man, Gerald R. Ford, who led our republic safely though a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe,” said Cheney, speaking in the Capitol Rotunda where Ford’s body rested in a flag-draped casket. “Gerald Ford was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon.” (link)

President Ford wasn’t responsible for any of that. President Ford was first on the scene of a Constitutional train wreck, began triage and applied pressure to the sucking wound below our nation’s heart. President Ford may have been honest, courageous and the right man for the hour. He held his office together and waited out the next election, but he was neither healer nor doctor. He merely kept the patient alive for an ambulance that never came.

Said House Speaker Dennis Hastert: “In 1974 America didn’t need a philosopher-king or a warrior-prince. We needed a healer, we needed a rock, we needed honesty and candor and courage. We needed Gerald Ford.” (link)

30 years later Presidential campaigns still fight over who did or didn’ t serve honorably in Vie tnam. Every scandal is a “gate” and every peace protester is Hanoi Jane. The banner of impeachment has been raised in the second term of every President since Nixon. Repeat this with me, friends: “Our nation is NOT healed.”

By all accounts he was a decent man with a good sense of humor. He was an Everyman in the Oval office, but President Ford signed the papers so there would be no justice on this earth for the worst gang of thugs to have gathered in the Oval Office. He lacked to foresight to see that they would return like mutant locusts with every good harvest, getting more dangerous and powerful with each season. Gerald Ford ensured Crimes against the Constitution would go unpunished and Felonies by the Highest Office would go untried. As he left office he had done enough to stop the bleeding but no surgeon came to take his place. Blood clotted bandages rotted and infection continues to fester violently under the surface, and now it threatens another generation.

“Only years later would Americans come to fully appreciate the foresight and wisdom of this good man,” (Bush said.)(link)

President Ford’s singular paragraph in history was earned by pardoning a crooked President, but still I feel sorry for him.

He deserved better than to lie in wake surrounded by grave robbers, cannibals and necrophiliacs. The cable networks dutifully broadcast the chants of Beltway necromancers, mean sadists who disembowel his character. Butchering his mercy and wrapping the pieces in newspaper column inches, they tuck them away for future use. The whole nation watches and knows that they plan to use these morbid treasures to cast black protection spells against Justice. None want to admit what we all suspect: that poor President Ford will be summoned back from the dead and enslaved as an unwilling golem in the defense of President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney and dozens of lesser officials who went afoul of the Constitutional Order with malicious intent.

Rest In Peace, President Gerald R. Ford. I wish this for you most sincerely, but I know you won’t be put to rest quite yet: There’s one more President who needs your pardon.