Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Beg Your Pardon

In the interest of not allowing the grief of losing a decent, magnanimous statesman to whitewash history, it must be reiterated that the single biggest decision Gerald Ford made in his presidency – pardoning Richard Nixon – was a mistake with lasting negative ramifications. Here’s how Slate’s Timothy Noah explains it:

Why was Ford wrong to pardon Nixon? Mainly because it set a bad precedent. Nixon had not yet been indicted, let alone convicted, of any crime. It's never a good idea to pardon somebody without at least finding out first what you're pardoning him for. How can you possibly weigh the quality of mercy against considerations of justice? Yet it would happen again in December 1992, when departing President George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger, former defense secretary, 12 days before Weinberger was set to go to trial for perjury. As I've noted before, this was almost certainly done to prevent evidence concerning Bush's own involvement in Iran-Contra (when he was vice-president) from becoming public.

Read the rest of Noah's argument here.

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