It was President Ford’s biggest and most courageous decision.
It probably hurt the GOP in the 1974 midterm elections. In fact, I was a college volunteer on some campaigns in that election. The party people that I was listening to agreed with the pardon but screamed the same question: "Why didn't he do it after the election"?
And it probably cost him the very close presidential election of 1976. The pardon was used by the Carter campaign to promote their campaign of "change."
However, it was the right thing to do and further evidence that some presidents lead and others do “hope and change”.
Let’s recall the events of September 8, 1974:
“……President Gerald Ford, who assumed office on the heels of President Richard M. Nixon‘s resignation, pardons his predecessor for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.”As I recall, it happened on a Sunday morning. I was leaving mass and headed home to have lunch with my parents when I heard the flash on the radio. I saw the TV reports with my father when I got home. My father's initial reaction was that it made sense but it would be politically difficult.
President Ford won in the end. Years later, the JFK Library Foundation presented him its “2001 Profile in Courage Award." The award celebrated the fact that President Ford put country over his political ambitions.
And he did.
We remember that kind of presidential leadership today. President Ford left politics in 1977 and died in 2006. The pardon looks better and better with age, and so does the 30-month "accidental" Ford presidency.
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