December 30, 2006

Former President Ford Dead

I became aware of the US politics upon arriving here during the last years of the Regan presidency, in the wake of the brazen testimony of Oliver North in uniform before the Congress. Coincidentally, I lived as a student not far away from the "White House on the West Coast", President Regan's Santa Barbara ranch.

My earliest political recollections, snippets from the mid-seventies as a middle-schooler in a nondescript village in central India. It was modern India's darkest hour. In 1975, Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi became a civilian dictator in order to overturn the High Court verdict that invalidated her election to the parliament. From the same period, I also vaguely recall a bold headline in an Indian tabloid named "Blitz" with the words "Watergate" and "Nixon". Only thing I understood from my father then was that the United States President named Nixon resigned in shame.

To this day, those memories define my view of the Indian and American politics. The following article echoes that sentiment eloquently.

The Blog | Taylor Marsh: NIXON PARDON: For Friendship, Not Country | The Huffington Post

When I wrote the post I Can't Forgive Ford, all hell broke loose in some quarters. Some wouldn't talk about it, ignored it completely, with some comments unprintable. Being proved correct in my assessment is not really important, because my feelings ran deep on this issue. But today's article by Bob Woodward does illuminate why I felt the way I have for all of these years.

The emergency lasted two years when Mrs Gandhi grudgingly allowed a fresh round of elections that thoroughly trounced her. The following government jailed her throwing the whole country into turmoil and violence. Nonetheless, Mrs Gandhi was chastened for good. India has not had dictatorial flirtations ever since.

President Nixon was pardoned by his buddy and successor President Ford. The above quote mirrors my feelings about the pardon. I wonder if it is morally dishonest to eulogize Ford's "healing touch" pardon while hailing the US-influenced court decision in Iraq to hang the deposed president. For sure, I'm not at all comparing the butcher of Iraq with a politically-deviant Nixon but couldn't help but wonder whether the action suggests any political wisdom when the first priority is containing the civil war with "healing" touches.

May President Ford rest in peace.

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