Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Ford Legacies: Gerald's - and Betty's

The historical focus on the Ford administration, with Gerald Ford's death, is his pardon of Richard Nixon, which was full, unequivocal, and rapid, given within a month of Nixon's resignation, before charges could be responsibly rendered.

The rationale, which is discussed respectfully now, and probably will be for a period, is that President Ford saved the nation further turmoil and trauma from the Watergate scandal.

And surely he did. But at what cost? Journalists will debate it regularly for a while, and historians for years. Ultimately, we'll all decide for ourselves.

Meanwhile, the issue has an ironic counterpoint in the legacy of Betty Ford, who helped create new understanding of drug addicition by revealing hers, showing how truth heals, and how hiding from the truth is the real cause of trauma, and the inability to heal.

It's too bad Mr. Ford did not have the insight and courage of Mrs. Ford in deciding how best to heal a nation.

Let us pay our respects to Mr. Ford as a man. But let us honor Mrs. Ford as the better example of wisdom and leadership in this country.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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