4C - Thursday, January 4, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com S
Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big *
mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq."
- FORMER PRESIDENT GERALD FORD in a 2004 interview with
journalist Bob Woodward, published following Ford's death.
Time has a way of clarifying past events, and now we
see that President Ford was right."
- SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D-Mass.) when presenting Ford with the
John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in April 2001.
The man who became president.
Alum made lasting contribution through public service
lthough Gerald Ford is most remembered for his tenure as
president, his legacy does not stop there. The only president
to hail from this state and to be a University alum, Ford was a
star football player who was voted most valuable player by his team-
mates in his final year.
Following his service in World War II, he
overcame impossible odds to win his first
House election. He soon became the right's
voice of reason, and he gained influence on
both sides of the aisle as House Minority Lead-
er. His congressional record was defined not
by bills written but by compromises made. His
appointment to the vice presidency was a tes-
tament to the immense respect Ford had from
his colleagues; no one else could have won a
speedy confirmation in that bitterly divided
Nevertheless, in his few years in the White
House, no action stands out more than his par-
don of Richard Nixon. Although history has
looked on the decision more kindly than the
nation did in 1974, the pardon remains a mis-
take that denied Americans closure on Water-
gate while setting the unfortunate precedent
of arbitrary presidential pardons. Government
should always be held accountable, and Ford
miscalculated the full scope of his well-inten-
Even in pardoning Nixon, however, Ford
exuded the one quality that defined his politi-
cal career - acting independently to do what
he thought was right. That Ford's intentions in
granting the pardon were honorable was prov-
enby his willingness to testifybefore Congress
under oath about the pardon. He became the
only sitting president ever to do so, living up
to his promise of bringing about a more open
Ford was president in an especially difficult
era in American history. Civil rights legisla-
tion was still violently contested in much of
the country, the nightmare of Vietnam left
citizens disillusioned with their government
and the Watergate scandal had done seeming-
ly irreparable damage to the nation's highest
office. In the harshest of times, Ford promoted
unity and reconciliation. He granted condi-
tional pardons to Vietnam-era draft dodgers,
laying the foundation for an unconditional
pardon from President Jimmy Carter.
A liberal on issues of race and a member of
the NAACP, Ford was an outspoken supporter
of affirmative action. In a New York Times op-
ed article published in 1999, Ford supported
the University's quest to maintain its affirma-
tive action policies and build a diverse student
body: "I don't want future college students to
suffer the cultural and social impoverishment
that afflicted my generation," he wrote.
Later in his life, Ford advocated full rights
for gays, becoming the highest ranking Repub-
lican before or since todo so. However, the one
contribution liberals should most remember
him for is his nomination of Justice John Paul
Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court based on
his qualifications rather than his ideological
leanings. Today, Stevens is the anchor of the
dwindling liberal wing of the court, and we
can only imagine what the court - not to men-
tion the country - would be without him
Ford's legacy, both in Congress and in
the White House, was of checking govern-
ment power and trying to mediate disputes.
Despite his mistakes in handling the after-
math of Watergate, Ford's service to his
country in politics and in war is commend-
able. He was one of the few true moderates
who could draw support from both sides of
the aisle when he voiced his opinions. For
being his own man in politics, his legacy will
be one of respect.
By Imran Syed
Gerald Ford has been unflatteringly called "the
accidental president," but the only American
president never to be elected on the presiden-
tial ticket probably wouldn't mind that label. In what
American politics has become - dominated by money,
campaign tricks, empty promises and personal attacks
- an accident is the only way an honest and moderate
man like Ford could ever have become president. And
our nation is immensely indebted to that swift turn of
providence that put the plain, loyal and brave man from
Grand Rapids in the White House in its most trying
Perhaps the University's most accomplished alum
ever, Ford had a modest Midwest upbringing. Aban-
doned by his abusive biological father, he was raised
by his mother and stepfather, whose name he took for
his own. By the time he came to Ann
Arbor, Ford was already a respected
athlete, and he would go on to be a Integrit
part of two straight national champi- I e
onships. But his greatest achievement h
would come in his senior season. White
The lone star -of the disastrous Onlyb
1934 season, Ford was named most O l y
valuable player by his teammates,
who recognized him as "the one guy
who could stand and fight in a losing
cause." When others became disillusioned by the enor-
mity of the challenge they faced, Gerald Ford went to
work. He would have occasion to do that again.
After college, Yale Law School and a tour in the Navy
during World War II, Ford returned to Grand Rapids to
practice law. Unsatisfied with the policies of his Congress-
man, Ford didn't just whine, he took the action that is our
democracy ina nutshell: he stood up as an alternative.
In the days when politics in western Michigan
were dominated by Republicans of the mighty McKay
political machine, Ford did what was first foolhardy,
then admirable and finally successful. He challenged
the Republican party establishment and defeated the
machine in the primary, later winning election to the
House of Representatives.
And it was in the House that Ford became what
America's leaders were intended to be, but rarely are -
an open-minded mediator. He refused to be tied down
by partisanship,,saying that his'party "simply had no
right to shout 'no, no, no' " to Democratic legislation
unless they had better alternatives. In the indelible
tradition of George Washington, John Marshall and
Henry Clay, Ford set aside personal ambition for the
good of the country, becoming a leader first, politician
As the Democrats and Republicans dueled fero-
ciously in the turbulence of the 1960s, Ford, then House
Minority Leader, soon became the one voice above the
unscrupulouscongressional fray we know all too well
When Richard Nixon began his 1968 presidential
campaign, Ford was the obvious choice for vice presi-
dent, but, sensing that his duty in the House was unfin-
ished, he refused Nixon's offer. He would, however,
disapprove of Nixon's ultimate nomination - Spiro
Agnew of Maryland - and for good reason, as the
nation would later find out.
With Agnew forced out under charges of tax eva-
sion in 1973 and with the furor over Watergate mount-
ing, the Democratic Congress knew it would soon have
Nixon, too. In that divisive atmosphere, there was only
one man who could win confirmation in the House and
Senate, and it wasn't John Connally, Nelson Rockefeller
or Ronald Reagan - all of whom Nixon considered.
Instead, it was simple, reliable, righteous old Jerry
Ford who alone could save the Executive Branch from
further embarrassment and demise at the hands of Con-
gress. Nixon picked Ford, who was easily confirmed; a
governmental crisis was prevented.
As Watergate exploded and Nixon hesitantly
resigned, the man who was too fair, open-minded and
nice to ever be elected president found his way into the
Oval Office anyway. The demise of the
presidency was minimized. A corrupt,
y in the imperial administration was replaced
y th withperhaps the most upstanding
2 president of the 20th century.
House. And then came the pardon that
" ~cost Ford reelection, but he always
accident. believed it was the right thing to do.
Asnewspapers nationwide decriedthe
act as corrupt and unjust while imply-
ing a secret bargain between Ford and
Nixon, Ford never lost sight of why it was necessary.
We as a nation laughed when he said the pardon was
necessary for national healing, but time has proven
Ford right. We Americans have been fortunate enough
to never face the possibility of our government falling
apart, but we came dangerously close in the furor sur-
rounding the Nixon resignation. The presidency was
robbed of all its prestige, splendor and influence. An
indictment of Nixon would have been an indictment
upon the presidency, one which threatened to perma-
nently jar the delicate system of checks and balances
this government was built upon.
Ford sacrificed his political future to do whathad to be
done and unconditionally pardon an already disgraced
man. He also maintained till his death that in accordance
withBurdick v. UnitedStates, acceptingapardoninvolves
admitting guilt and that is what Nixon did.
Few recognized the necessity of what had to be done
and none but Ford had the conviction, courage and
moral capital to do it. Luckily for America, he was the
one in charge.
As they say, eulogies are not given under oath, and
it sounds pompous and opportunistic for critics and
politicians on all sides to glorify Ford at his death. But
as once staunch opponents like Sen. Edward Kennedy
(D-Mass.) come around on the pardon decision, it is
impossible to deny the integrity with which Gerald *
Ford shaped his decisions and by which his legacy will
endure. Undeniably, Ford was among the best men ever
to become president: It's no accident that he was the
only one never elected.
Imran Syed is a Daily associate editorial page
editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Daily Editorial Page's stances on Ford through the years
ther Richard Nixonn ticians and the governmental process itself has Demonstrate against Ford Ford will arrive at Willow Run Airport and
diminished to a ludicrous point. proceed to Crisler Arena at about 3:30 p.m. His
By shielding Nixon from justice under the T . c.r.j . arrival at the arena, any other movements on
Richard Nixon. If you like Richard guise of" mercy," the president has shown an .onghn a capacity crowd will jam its way campus and his speech in the evening (open to
11 like Jerry Ford.". . u appalling lack of understanding for the people into Crslei Aiena to see one of the major events the public) provide an excellent opportunity for
ust robot-like Nixoism of House he serves. Ford's disregard scheduled on campus this year. those concerned to voice and demonstrate their
leader Ford led him to support even for the American legal What is being offered is the only U.S. feelings. But don't hold your breath.
tions of Clement Haynsworth and G. process shows a . president running as an incumbent
rrswell to the Supreme Court, as well disregard for while never having been elected. - Sept. 15, 1976
nistration's Indochina policy, the America nGerald Ford and his campaign
ist euphoric Congressional reaction to citizenry. cronies have decided to try
ination is just one more indication of And and capitalize on the cir-
in which that organization flounders. actiocumstantial fact that he Vote for Carter in '76
the greatest distinction Ford can remov- / played football and
s lack of distinction. And it is that in the went to school here by In the strange saga of Richard Nixon, it is
h will make him a shoo-in once per- threat springboarding their time to separate ourselves from the torrent of
ongressional hearings on his nomi- of quadrennial GOP hypocrisy, deception and mindless invective
held. pub- traveling road show that has been part and parcel of the 1976 presi-
Fard will prove to be a highly verbal lie at the big 'U.' dential campaign. It is time to take a sober look
figure, like his predecessor, remains trial For example, Ford at the clear and explicit choice that will con-
But it seems assured that there will is a time-proven front us all in the voting booth on Tuesday. It
le that is iconoclastic about the vice- enemy of higher is, moreover, time to realize that there is indeed
1 nominee. education. With a choice.
rresents more of a new face than a atypical consisten- The choice is between another four winters of
customary administration policy. cy, he has vetoed waiting in utter despair while the government
his appointment has served more as a almost every bill remains culpably oblivious to our needs, or a
han as a breath of fresh air. from designed to ben- first, discernible step toward sanity. We vote for
the efit higher edu- that step, and the man who can help us take it
- Oct. 13,1973 shoul cation that has - Jimmy Carter.
passed through Unemployment remains tragically and insuf-
Richard the oval Office. ferably high. Our cities have been left to rot in
Nixon; Ford should not a morass of crime and fiscal chaos, while cor-
On the pardon Nkxon be allowed to exit porate avarice has left our environment on the
ockery athe arena without brink of devastation. Our image abroad has
g Sunday to pardon former Presi- of an "open first coming up with degenerated to one of arrogance and deceit.
rd Nixon for all illegal acts he may presidency" a rationalization for The dismal failures of the Ford Administra-
itted in the White House, President Ford will that voting record, tion transcend mere failures of policy.
d has betrayed his country's trust by not restore however pathetic From the pardon of a president who may well
e American people a public hearing peace to the the reasons have ended up a convicted felon, to the failure to
agedy e country by this may immediately discharge a racist cabinet member,
it believe, and can never believe, that last Watergate be. Gerald Ford has displayed a moral insensitivity
will be restored to this country until cover-up so gaping, so unforgivable that it alone warrants
t threat to the Constitution since the a resounding mandate from the American elec-
edition Acts is laid bare for the pet- - Sept. 10, torate for his removal from office.
1974 No one in government ever seriously consid-
The pardon of Nixon has removed from the
reaches of American justice the central figure
in this conspiracy against democracy. Nixon
will be relieved of his responsibility for fac-
ing the people of the United States at a public
trial - and history will be denied a full look into
our greatest governmental crisis.
If Ford sincerely thought that by this arbi-
trary action he could restore domestic tranquil-
ity, we must believe that he has made a serious
Instead of soothing unrest, Ford has further
exposed the suspicions we developed after a
continual succession of lies and doubletalk ema-
nated from the Watergate affair. Trust in poli-
ered the Congressman from Grand Rapids to 5
be of presidential caliber. Even Richard Nixon
cursed the pen with which he signed Ford's
vice-presidential nomination - his last sick leg-
acy to history.
But the repudiation of Gerald Ford and the
election of Jimmy Carter should not delude any-
one into believing that the struggle is over.
Let it be clearly understood that what Jimmy 5
Carter stands for is not nearly enough. Let it be
clearly understood thatthere mustbe a quantum
expansion in the breadth of his commitments to
all the issues he has embraced this year.
- Oct. 29,1976