40 Years Ago Today: Richard Nixon Resigns

President Richard Nixon, the most unpopular president until George W. Bush, resigned from office 40 years ago today.

My favorite Richard Nixon article: Hunter Thompson's June 16, 1994 eulogy published in Rolling Stone, "He Was a Crook."

It was Richard Nixon who gave us the War on Drugs. Here's his speech on June 17, 1971. He also gave us the DEA, by executive order on July 1, 1973. [More...]

He was President when the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was enacted, assigning schedules to various drugs (with marijuana in Schedule I along with heroin, where it remains today.) In 1972, when the National Commission on Marihuana (sic) and Drug Abuse issued a report recommending criminal penalties not apply to personal marijuana use and small amounts of distribution, Nixon shelved the report. Here's an article on his infamous, bigoted taped comments about it.

And, of course, he was President when the National Guard shot and killed 4 students during a Vietnam War Protest at Kent State.

[Photo of Nixon at top is of a mask in the living room at Hunter Thompson's Owl Farm, taken by me in June, 2007.]

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    I loved that Hunter Thompson (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by desertswine on Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 10:06:48 PM EST
    article. It was brilliant. He didn't think much of Nixon, and neither did I.  And I liked his description of Kissinger.  He was correct in his comparison of WWII American vs Cambodian deaths.  Cambodia may be the most heavily bombed country in history.  Thompson was such a great writer, I'm sorry he's gone.

    While much of Richard Nixon's (5.00 / 2) (#62)
    by KeysDan on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 04:47:08 PM EST
    sordid history relates to "Watergate" and other political transgressions and crimes,  the man should also be remembered, too, for his major personal flaws.  Specifically, his tax evasion schemes.

     A long story, short, he paid less than $6,000 on aggregate income of $790,000 for 1970, 71, and 72.   He used questionable interest deductions on his real estate (and took a $1.24 interest deduction on a department store bill) and charitable deductions for his vice presidential papers he had valued at $576,000.  

    Since Congress had given a deadline of July 1969 to transfer the documents, and that deadline for deed transfer was not met, it was discovered that the document was back-dated.  Ed Morgan, his aide, was found to have falsified documents and was sentenced to four months in jail.

     Nixon, was eventually re-audited by the IRS owing to the public outcry.  And, much of the vice presidential paper's deduction was disallowed as was some of the interest deductions.   Nixon paid the new tax bill, stating that "he was not a crook."

    Is This True? (none / 0) (#1)
    by RickyJim on Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 08:18:17 PM EST
    I read the cited Hunter Thompson article.  It was new to me.  Among the unremitting hatred, bile and invective there was a specific charge:
    He was a cheap crook and a merciless war criminal who bombed more people to death in Laos and Cambodia than the U.S. Army lost in all of World War II, and he denied it to the day of his death.
    I would be interested if anyone has the facts about the comparison.  Also what did Nixon deny about the bombing "until the day of his death"?  Did Thompson also write "eulogies" about other US presidents?

    why don't you listen to some of Nixon's tapes (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 11:57:46 PM EST
    or just google Nixon war criminal

    The Guardian, 2013

    Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought

    In the course of his five-and-a-half-year presidency, beginning in 1969, Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars -- against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mind-set and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon's: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency.

    ...The Watergate that we wrote about in The Washington Post from 1972 to 1974 is not Watergate as we know it today. It was only a glimpse into something far worse. By the time he was forced to resign, Nixon had turned his White House, to a remarkable extent, into a criminal enterprise.

    The LBJ tapes: LBJ called his acts treasonous.

    Another writer:

    bq. The evidence of Nixon's sabotage of the 1968 Vietnam peace talks is now overwhelming - including diplomatic cable traffic and contemporaneous audiotapes of Johnson discussing the Republican promises to South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu of a better deal if he boycotted negotiations in Paris.


    Wikipedia says that U.S. military fatalities (none / 0) (#4)
    by Peter G on Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 11:48:59 PM EST
    in W.W.II numbered around 407,000. (Way more than I had realized.) A quick Google search readily reveals studies suggesting the number of Cambodians killed by U.S. bombing during the Nixon Administration was almost twice that many.

    What Jeralyn said. (none / 0) (#6)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:47:30 AM EST
    The White House tapes are conclusive. President Nixon was clearly an active participant in the Watergate cover-up, engaging in and encouraging criminal activity in the Oval Office.

    If this is a reply to what I posted (none / 0) (#12)
    by Peter G on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 01:48:19 PM EST
    or to the post that I responded to, then I don't understand your point.  Did you think I was suggesting otherwise?

    No, it's not. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:44:16 PM EST
    Sorry. I meant it as a reply to Jeralyn's comment. Thanks for catching it.

    Off Topic (none / 0) (#38)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:11:09 AM EST
    How are you weather the storms ?

    Weathering, I Meant to Write (none / 0) (#39)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:11:43 AM EST
    We were fine on Oahu. (none / 0) (#48)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:10:53 PM EST
    But the east side of the Big Island, not so much -- just like Nixon when he resigned. (Dubious comparison, to be sure, but I had to link the two somehow, so we don't get chastised for being OT.)



    James Taylor nails it too (none / 0) (#2)
    by DFLer on Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 08:32:34 PM EST
    There (none / 0) (#7)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:04:51 AM EST
    are two things that happened during the dreadful Nixon administration that I consider to be progressive. One is the 26th amendment to the Constitution lowering the voting age to 18.

    The other one is the ending of the draft.

    I wonder whether either of those could pass in today's political climate.

    Surprisingly, I have seen some writers and commentators who are considered to be on the "left", calling for a reinstitution of the draft.

    The logic, they express, is that the draft is an equalizer - and that the rich and powerful would not be so eager to start wars if their own kids were subject to being drafted and sent to fight them.

    I see it exactly in an opposite way.
    The draft, in my view, enabled the Vietnam war. It could not have gone on and on without the assurance of a steady supply of citizens who were forced to fight, flee or be incarcerated.

    The grip that the draft had on a whole generation cannot be overstated.

    The premise that, this time, the rich and connected would be forced to serve along side the less fortunate among us is pure poppycock. If anything, the divide between the rich and powerful and the rest of the country has intensified exponentially since that time.

    I cannot believe that it is people on the left who sometimes call for this nightmare to be revisited upon us.

    I suppose that my point is that good things can happen, progressive things can happen, during an administration known to be reactionary - just as reactionary and conservative things can happen during an administration deemed to be liberal and progressive.

    The draft wasn't abolished (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:49:58 AM EST
    completely, young men still have to register for it.

    As a matter of fact I just heard a PSA commercial on the radio about all the public benefits(not welfare) that a young man cannot be eligible for if he doesn't register for the draft.  From the SSS website:

    Men, born after December 31, 1959, who aren't registered with Selective Service won't qualify for Federal student loans or grant programs. This includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Direct Stafford Loans/Plus Loans, National Direct Student Loans, and College Work Study.

    The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes registration with Selective Service a condition for U.S. citizenship if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.

    The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) offers programs that can train young men seeking vocational employment or enhancing their career. This program is only open to those men who register with Selective Service. Only men born after December 31, 1959, are required to show proof of registration.

    A man must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service. Proof of registration is required only for men born after December 31, 1959.

    Your reasoning is 180 degrees backwards.  The draft was abolished as an active institution because it made going into another country that hadn't directly attacked America difficult, if not impossible to accomplish.

    An all-volunteer force, OTOH, was and is easy to send anywhere.  After all, they knew the job was dangerous when they took it.(Not my sentiments, BTW).


    The Left (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by squeaky on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:44:32 AM EST
    Surprisingly, I have seen some writers and commentators who are considered to be on the "left", calling for a reinstitution of the draft.

    Which writers and commentators are you referring to?

    And who is considering them to be on the left?

    I find it amazing that in your ongoing diatribe against Obama that you use Nixon to once again show that Obama has no redeeming qualities. I guess you and PPJ have a lot in common.

    I should not be surprised. Soon you will point out that there are fascist dictators who did more good than Obama.


    Thanks Lentinel (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by dk on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:21:39 PM EST
    That's a really interesting perspective regarding the draft. I admit that I've been somewhat sympathetic at times to those on the left who have floated the idea of reinstating the draft as a way to prevent the establishment from pushing wars, but perhaps you're right that it fails to reflect the reality of the past and the present. It's also interesting as those who seek to insult you and use a form of reverse-McCarthyite tactics in response to you kind of prove your point.

    Question? (none / 0) (#15)
    by squeaky on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:31:55 PM EST
    Who on the left has proposed a draft? I had not heard that.

    Jeralyn wrote a post about it (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by jbindc on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:21:37 AM EST
    Thanks (none / 0) (#32)
    by squeaky on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:46:34 AM EST
    Missed that post by Jeralyn, another winner by our host.

    IMO. for Rangel, it is a political move, a hat tip to his constituency.

    He has the luxury to pander, even if in principle he believes that the poor are getting f'ed without a draft, because the bill has zero chance of ever getting any votes.


    Korean War combat veteran Rangel gets... (none / 0) (#34)
    by unitron on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:44:09 AM EST
    ...about 90% or better of the vote each time, so I tend to believe his pushing that bill is a matter of principle rather than pander, or as he put it...

    "There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way."


    OK (none / 0) (#35)
    by squeaky on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:53:50 AM EST
    Wonder why he gets 90% of the vote?

    Could it be that he represents his constituents feelings?

    He is in a very luxurious position with his calling for a draft because he knows he is virtually alone on this.

    When a politician takes a stand that no one else will support but his constituents applaud his courage, it is a particular situation.


    There are those who've urged ... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:51:35 PM EST
    ... some sort of universal national service, of which military service can be considered a part. But I agree that nobody on the left is pushing for a reinstitution of the military draft. absent a compelling outside threat, I certainly would not advocate it. What's the point? We spend lavishly on the Pentagon as it is.

    The argument that is given to me (none / 0) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:37:07 AM EST
    Is that if everyone had skin in the game it is much harder to drag the US into combat situations.  The general population would become riled at those who love to beat the war drum. I agree too, this whole country's notion of military solutions would do a 180 degree turn around.

    Our military has become professional though.  They don't want anyone conscripted. That's a good thing, or a bad thing.

    I have a healthy respect for joint special operations.  They are capable of the highest caliber of action.  But in the hands of a corrupt President and administration, in their current form I would fear that organization.

    The American people must be very careful, very serious, about who they bequest such power.....and the likelihood of that reality is probably zero :)


    The most public (none / 0) (#21)
    by dk on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:50:51 PM EST
    and high profile example I can think of is Charlie Rangel.

    OH (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:18:57 PM EST
    I see, a bit of hyperbole on Lentinel's part:

    Rangel has submitted legislation to reinstate the military draft several times since January 2003 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. In 2004, the House of Representatives voted down his measure by a 2-402 vote. He has said before introducing the bill that he indeed does not expect it to pass.

    Rangel is introducing a bill that he knows will not pass. That makes his position political rhetoric as his constituency is largely poor people of color.

    To be surprised by this is dishonest rhetoric on Lentinel's part, imo.


    Just because you were wrong (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by dk on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:42:28 PM EST
    doesn't mean you have to insult Lentinel again.

    Wrong? (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:49:39 PM EST
    Wrong about what?

    Please explain

    To wonder and be surprised how anyone on the left would call for reinstatement of the draft, when the one person who has been bringing up the issue is only doing it to point out that poor black and hispanic people are over represented in the military, is rhetorical BS on lentinel's part.

    Or s/he believes that that natural selection is a good thing. More rich white people surviving and more poor people of color dying.


    Two more (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by sj on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:10:17 PM EST
    There  (none / 0) (#7)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 04:04:51 AM MDT

    are two things that happened during the dreadful Nixon administration that I consider to be progressive

    OSHA and EPA. Oh, and a third: enforced desegregation of Southern schools.

    Of course the Republicans have been trying to de-fund those agencies ever since, but at least they exist.

    And let me tell you, it gripes my a$$ that that b@st@rd facilitated/enacted more far reaching progressive policies than our last two Democratic Presidents.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased as punch with the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" (not really far reaching, but still good) and I'm optimistic with the ACA (potential to be far-reaching but still too many without health care). I don't even care that my rates went up.

    But Nixon! Seriously? It's just galling in a way.


    Sourcing the "They" on the 'Left'... (none / 0) (#40)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:16:52 AM EST
    ...would really be helpful in determining the validity of your argument.  And yes, I know how to use the Google, but not the same as reading the sources you are reading.

    Some Nixon Administration (none / 0) (#10)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 11:51:55 AM EST
    On the Other Hand (none / 0) (#11)
    by RickyJim on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 01:13:28 PM EST
    Pat Buchanan discussing Nixon on the Colbert Report last week.
    ...I think he would have gone done in history as one of the great presidents if you take a look at what he accomplished in his first term: he had detente with the Soviet Union, arms control, opened up China, saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War, brought the troops home from Vietnam, brought all the POWs home, left the provincial capitals in Saigon's hands. It was an extrordinary success but Watergate erased it all.
    And here is an assessment of his domestic accomplishments from a PBS program.

    Pat Buchanan may not (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 01:59:18 PM EST
    be the best  historian on Nixon.  Or legal advisor.  In that same Colbert show, he believed Nixon should have destroyed the tape evidence.  But, he is right, and as it should be,  whatever place he might be given, is erased by Watergate.  Just as Il Duce's overall record in Italy rightly and justly eclipses his railway prowess.  

    Nixon did his best to undermine the Constitution and almost succeeded.  For his careerist  perspective, there is the  example of Nixon's achievement with China for which he would have excoriated any Democrat for trying or doing.  And, accordingly, made earlier rapprochement with China politically untenable.  

     In my view, the Republican party, itself, did not pay a sufficient price for putting before the American people for so many years, a person of Nixon's character and integrity. The nature of the man should not have been surprising. The party should have gone down with him.  The Republican Party chairman, George HW Bush, stuck with Nixon to the bitter end long after several other Republican elected officials felt he should go.

     Ford, the unelected vice president (named by Nixon after Spiro Agnew pleaded nolo contendere to tax evasion stemming from bribery charges) and unelected president (upon Nixon's resignation) pardoned Nixon in advance.  On balance, in my opinion,  a disservice to the nation, and a curious component of the Watergate scandal.  Some Watergate individuals today.


    It's an interesting question.... (none / 0) (#18)
    by magster on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:08:26 PM EST
    Butterfield testified about the existence of the tapes a week before they were subpoenaed, and I believe Haldeman later interviewed stated that half urged destruction of tapes and half urged that destruction would be an impeachable offense. Ultimately Nixon decided that he thought the tapes would somehow be redeeming.

    There's a 3 hour discovery channel documentary that was really very good with interviews of just about all the main players.


    Nixon could have said (1.25 / 4) (#33)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 08:44:32 AM EST
    all the hard drives crashed...


    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    And I'm not a fan of Nixon. But all this beating of a very dead man while our current President shuts down the coal industry and attacks political opponents with the IRS strikes me has a tad bit hypocritical


    This is a thread on Nixon's (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by KeysDan on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:57:11 AM EST
    resignation 40 years ago.  It is not unusual for discussions of historical events to involve those who are dead.   Apparently, it would be wrong to speak ill of any dead president; Andrew Jackson's translocation of  the Cherokees will require tip-toeing around, or, at least, a  companion discussion of Obama's alleged short-comings.

    In the future (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:01:53 AM EST
    look at the thread header before making a comment here.

    Did someone die and name (none / 0) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:38:40 AM EST
    either of you Table Captain?

    Why no. They did not.

    But your attempt at speech control is interesting.


    Uh, you were worried that I was protesting (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:43:14 AM EST
    too much in another thread, now, asking for reading comprehension is 'speech control'.

    I do not think that phrase means what you think it means.


    Table Captain? (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by KeysDan on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:16:07 AM EST
    A response to you.  But, yes, please table your Obama bashing to another discussion.  You will surely be able to work it in to something--give the Pistorius thread a try.

    Yes, Pulling a Cheney... (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:24:09 AM EST
    ...would have kept him in office, then he could have refused to testify in front of Congress about the missing 5 million emails:

    The Bush White House email controversy surfaced in 2007, during the controversy involving the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. Congressional requests for administration documents while investigating the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys required the Bush administration to reveal that not all internal White House emails were available, because they were sent via a non-government domain hosted on an email server not controlled by the federal government. Conducting governmental business in this manner is a possible violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, and the Hatch Act. Over 5 million emails may have been lost or deleted.  Greg Palast claims to have come up with 500 of the Karl Rove lost emails, leading to damaging allegations. In 2009, it was announced that as many as 22 million emails may have been deleted.

    So many myths in a single post (none / 0) (#66)
    by Yman on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:03:52 PM EST
    Including yet another imaginary war.

    And I'm not a fan of Nixon. But all this beating of a very dead man while our current President shuts down the coal industry and attacks political opponents with the IRS strikes me has a tad bit hypocritical

    Left out that this half and half discussion.... (none / 0) (#19)
    by magster on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:12:30 PM EST
    occurred before the subpoena was issued for the tapes.

    There is no evidence that ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:41:39 PM EST
    ... President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in advance, as part of a quid pro quo arrangement. In fact, there was really no upside at all for Ford here. Many of his most bitter critics at the time eventually came to accept that by pardoning his predecessor, Ford placed the country's long-term interests ahead of his own political aspirations. Indeed, it likely cost him the capability to win the presidency in his own right in 1976.

    Per Burdick v. U.S., a pardon must be accepted for it to be legally valid and binding. If it is rejected, it carries no legal weight and cannot be forced upon its subject. Further per Burdick, the issuance of a pardon carries with it the imputation of guilt on the part of the grantor, and its acceptance constitutes an admission of guilt on the part of the recipient. Therefore, by accepting Ford's pardon, Nixon legally admitted his full culpability for all things Watergate.

    The indictment and trial of former President Nixon would have consumed the country emotionally for the better part of five years, at a time when the American people's collective focus would've been far better spent elsewhere on more compelling matters. President Ford's action forced everyone to move on.

    And in retrospect and IMHO, the pardon of Richard Nixon was a most courageous act on Gerald Ford's part, because he undertook to do so in full knowledge and awareness that he would suffer enormous and potentially fatal political consequences as a result of his decision. But he went ahead and did it anyway.



    That's arguable (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by sj on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:13:20 PM EST
    Many of his most bitter critics at the time eventually came to accept that by pardoning his predecessor, Ford placed the country's long-term interests ahead of his own political aspirations.
    In my view, it set the stage for today's tendencies to "move on" rather than to hold accountable.

    How exactly is it "arguable"? (none / 0) (#29)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:25:22 AM EST
    Among others, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy freely admitted that he reassessed his earlier harsh opinion about Gerald Ford's decision, and had since concluded otherwise. And so did Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

    I'm not saying you're wrong, and I might even agree with you about our tendency to "move on." But your personal opinion is not necessarily mutually exclusive from the views expressed by others.

    Richard Nixon left the White House as a disgraced and humiliated man, his personal reputation in ruins. Yes, he could've been indicted and tried -- but then again, at what cost to a country ultimately that was still reeling from Vietnam, mired in a deep economic recession and suffering from double-digit inflation?

    The marvelous thing about hindsight is that it's most always 20 / 20 in its retrospective clarity. Given his times and the circumstances he faced, I believe that President Ford made a courageous decision to do what he thought best for the country at that moment, knowing that it would likely cost him dearly.



    Doesn't Matter... (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:55:22 AM EST
    ...in land where all men/women are equal under the law, you don't let someone get away with high crimes because they have a really important position and/or it's politically inconvenient.

    It set precedent IMO that allowed Bush & Co to operate with impunity, followed by Obama to a lessor degree, and will continue until someone is held accountable for their bad deeds, which include war crimes in which a lot of people are not on Earth that should be.

    For all the Constitution waving idiots elected in office, none see to understand the entire point, which is not having some megalomaniac Kings making it up as they go.

    Crimes we committed again the American public, and like all crimes, the perpetrator should have stood trial.  Isn't that 101 in the victim healing process ?  Who knows what may have come to light, that was and still is locked in the darkest recesses of the White House.  The only way we could have healed was public exposure of all crimes, and it just might have given us some insight on what needed to be corrected to avoid the Nixon redux, GWB.  Followed by the eaves dropper & drone extraordinaire, Obama.

    Children need shielding from the cold dark reality of politics, not grown a$$ people who elect their leaders.  We need the truth and the belief that no one is above the law IMO.  Now we have the CIA spying on Congress, lying about it, and that is just another day in Washington DC.  People do things and lie about them only when they believe they can get away with it, and right now, they can all day long.

    Instead, it just made anyone listening realize the foulest quote to ever come from a US President was true, When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.  Which is slowly seeping down the chain of command like a virus.


    You raise good points. (none / 0) (#52)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:17:27 PM EST
    But it's equally important to consider the times during which Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon, and not simply peer down the silo of the law itself. I think that those of us who remember those times personally would undoubtedly agree that in the summer of 1974, Watergate had truly become a national nightmare, and the country was consumed by the constitutional crisis it engendered and ignoring other pressing issues.

    It was readily apparent by that time that President Nixon had to somehow be forced from office. And when he was finally gone, the mortal threat he had posed to our democratic institutions by his very presence in the White House quickly dissipated, but the hard feelings and emotions he had provoked in Washington and across the country were still very raw. Any subsequent criminal trial of the now-former president would have probably accomplished very little for the country, other than perhaps further a national bloodlust for vengeance at the man's expense.

    President Ford decided that the potential and very real problems posed by other serious and long-ignored national issues now outweighed whatever was to be gained by the indictment and trial of his now-disgraced and ruined predecessor. And he proved perfectly willing to suffer the political consequences and fallout for doing what he thought had to be done, for the sake of national welfare and sanity.

    Again in retrospect, most historians today credit President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon as having immediately cauterized a deep national wound. Ford had effectively staunched the bleeding caused by Watergate, albeit at his own ultimate political expense. And that willingness to risk his own fate for the good of the country required real courage on his part, the kind we so often see lacking today on either side of the aisle in Washington.



    Many (most?) criminal trials... (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:08:14 PM EST
    accomplish very little...what does prosecuting a kid flipping quarter-pounds as a part time job accomplish?  The petty thief?

    otoh a criminal prosecution of Richard Nixon and his co-conspirators could have accomplished something major...assurances that equality under the law ain't just a fairy tale, it's real...so real that even a president is prosecuted when he breaks the law.

    You and others say the nation needed to heal, to move on...I think a lack of a prosecution prevented exactly that...and the repercussions remain to this day.  Equality under the law is a joke.


    Then we're just going to have to ... (none / 0) (#59)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:56:17 PM EST
    ... agree to disagree.

    I Get the Context... (5.00 / 2) (#55)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:18:40 PM EST
    ...but every crime every committed has context.

    I am not peering down when I say that in America, we are all suppose to be equal under the law, and that just because you are an important person does not exclude you from the law.

    One of the main reason for prosecuting criminals is so that potential criminals understand there are consequences to breaking the law.  I am sure that notion goes back to at least 2000 years, so it's hardly hindsight that future President might not be respective of the law when the country doesn't prosecute one caught flat out breaking the law.

    And there is this in the Constitution:
    Article. II.
    Section. 4.

    The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

    What is the purpose of the Constitution if we aren't going to hold the person sworn to uphold to the same standards, he/she expects of all citizens ?

    We don't stop prosecuting felons because of war, bad economy, and blah, blah, blah, but we do stop prosecuting felons if they are important people for the very same reasons.  I call BS.  

    There would be no time when prosecuting a President would be convenient, that is silly.  I would also add that the reason the country was in such dire straights is because of the criminal running the show and instead of punishing him, he was rewarded, for really focking Sh!t up.  Brilliant.

    Sorry, I understand your points and I simply disagree.  I wasn't old enough to know anything about Watergate at the time, but I do know it brought us GWB, by first letting him rig an disputed election, and then letting him do whatever he wanted, including launching a failed trillion dollar war.  All because everyone involved knew there were no consequences to sidestepping the Constitution and breaking the law, again and again.

    I would also argue it was never Ford's decision to make, that Congress and/or the SCUTUS were the only authorities with the power to make that call.  Ford could have done something after the fact, but I would argue that someone cannot be pardoned before they have been found guilty, that is pure political non-sense.

    The very notion that Cheney could pardon GWB pre-trial is so un-American that I cannot not believe you are spending time defending it.  The context was almost identical.

    Donald, every time you decide to rant about Texas, and the backwards garbage that happens down here with the republican party and with the authorities, remember, they are all rationalizing why they are above the law, just like you have with Nixon and Ford, just like I am sure Nixon did everytime he broke the law.  The Greater Good, which is also a very popular angle taken by our resident idiot in regards to the killing of children during wartime.  Not comparing you to him, just pointing out the like minded rationalization of bad deeds.


    But in this case, the Constitution worked. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:55:00 PM EST
    Had President Nixon not resigned, he would have inevitably been impeached by the House, tried and convicted by the Senate, and removed from office.
    The House Judiciary Committee had already approved three articles of impeachment against him. When the contents of the White House tapes disgorged its "smoking gun," proving his active role in the Watergate cover-up, even congressional Republicans concluded that they could no longer support him.

    As I noted earlier, the pardon of Nixon was a distasteful and unpopular decision, and there was no upside here for President Ford. He had to determine whether the need for Nixon's criminal prosecution outweighed the likely further damage his trial would undoubtedly have caused the country's political institutions, particularly as likely additional revelations about Nixon's professional conduct emerged.

    Ford had a lot of very real problems to grapple with, Vietnam, etc. After consultation with Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski, he concluded -- quite reasonably, in my estimation -- that another two or three years (at least) of national obsession over Nixon's scandals was not in the country's best long-term interests. It was entirely a judgment call on Ford's part, and he paid a huge political price for it. But he also succeeded in putting Watergate behind us.



    ScottW314: "The very notion that Cheney could pardon GWB pre-trial is so un-American that I cannot not believe you are spending time defending it. The context was almost identical."

    ... you are equating Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, a documented historical event, with mere conjecture about what Dick Cheney might have done, were he to have somehow ever assumed the presidency -- which of course never happened. Therefore, they are most certainly not "almost identical" in context, because the latter has no context at all. Rather, it's pure fiction, and has no absolutely no basis in reality.

    And honestly, nobody's ranting about Texas Republicans here. I've already noted the validity of your arguments, but President Ford's decision to pardon Nixon needs to be considered and examined in accordance with the contemporaneous times in which it was rendered.

    You and others here are looking back upon events which occurred 40 years ago, with the obvious advantage of four decades' worth of hindsight. Yes, had President Ford known then what we know now about the behavior of today's Republicans, it might well have factored into his decision making, and he may well have let Nixon hang.

    But that in itself is an inherently unreasonable supposition from an historical perspective, not unlike wondering what would have happened to us in the Second World War, had Japan invaded and occupied Hawaii immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Because Gerald Ford was no soothsayer, any more than the rest of us were back then or are now. He had to base his decision upon the best available information and advice he could get at the time. How was he ever to reasonably project and assume what future Republicans might or might not do as a result of Watergate, two or three decades hence?

    Hell, Ford didn't even foresee the immediate and mortal internecine threat that Ronald Reagan would pose to his presidency, only one year later. Like most people at the time, Ford assumed -- wrongly, as it turned out -- that most Republicans would acknowledge the reality of Watergate and be reasonable and rational in their reactions to it.

    Even had Nixon been tried convicted and imprisoned, no doubt a number of today's right-wing Republicans today would still be clamoring about seeking payback for his "persecution" by Democrats. Oh, wait, they already have.



    Donald... (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 08:39:07 AM EST
    ...I clearly stated "the very notion that he could".  Which is what you arguing, that the VP has the power to pardon the president if he resigns.

    I never said he would have or anything other than he could.

    We are just going to have agree about disagreeing.  I get your points, and while reasonable, I simply disagree.


    I wanted to see him stand trial (5.00 / 4) (#63)
    by Repack Rider on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:11:17 PM EST
    I don't understand any other attitude.

    Ditto. (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Angel on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 05:17:26 PM EST
    It isn't arguable that they said so (none / 0) (#47)
    by sj on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:58:41 AM EST
    It is arguable that they were correct.

    So, you know more than Ted Kennedy ... (2.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:36:02 PM EST
    ... or Woodward & Bernstein about the matter? Look, your opinion is perfectly valid -- but it's your opinion only, and there are many others who would beg to differ.

    If you're looking for presidential pardons that set significant precedent for excusing executive branch wrongdoing, I would suggest that you instead examine President George H.W. Bush's 11th-hour pardons of those senior Reagan administration officials who were indicted for their roles in the Iran-Contra affair.

    President Ford felt strongly at the time that he needed to put Watergate in the country's rear-view mirror, particularly when the national economy was in difficulty and the Vietnam War was about to enter its final stages. The threat posed by Richard Nixon had been effectively destroyed, and he was now a non-factor politically. His subsequent criminal indictment would have sucked the air out of the room in Washington, figuratively speaking.

    Pardoning Nixon was a highly distasteful and unpopular decision, to be sure. But in retrospect, it was something that had to be done so that the White House and Congress could get on with the important business of the country, and not be further distracted by a show trial which would have overshadowed everything else on the national agenda.



    You bet it's just my opinion (none / 0) (#51)
    by sj on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:43:54 PM EST
    I never said otherwise. Likewise, Kennedy and Bernstein and you also have/had only opinion. I have (unstated) analysis that led to my opinion.

    Your statement that  

    it was something that had to be done so that the White House and Congress could get on with the important business of the country,
    is also an opinion. It isn't a fact. Stating and restating it doesn't give it any more value or weight.

    Yes, it is my opinion. (2.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 01:43:09 PM EST
    Likewise, I never stated that my own analysis was anything other than opinion. And again, I never once said or even implied that your opinion was necessarily wrong, though it differs from my own.

    But that said, I also cited several credible sources to underscore my own contention, while you've otherwise done very little here but fulminate about the subject. And I'd be willing to wager that more people across the country will probably tend to agree with my own take about Ford's pardon, than they will with yours -- particularly when you fail to support such an assertion with anything other than your own umbrage.



    Incorrect... (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by ScottW714 on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:56:38 AM EST
    Here is a NYT survey ran September 2, 1974, less than a month after he resigned.  It's a pdf, but for anyone who has paid subscription, here is the link to the story.

    Do you think Nixon should or should not be tried for possible criminal charges arising from Watergate ?

    56% Should
    37% Should Not
    7%  No opinion.

    Democrats 70,25,5
    Republican 33,59,8
    Independents 55,36,9

    Your contention only holds true for Republicans.

    Overall the country, for people with an opinion, believed, at the time, he should have stood trial by a 3 to 2 ratio, which is a strong majority.

    Another set of polls about whether Ford did the right thing, taken at the time, varies from 30-36%, and consists of 6 separate polls.  In 2002, 58% of people think Ford did the right thing.

    So your entire premise about hindsight was correct, but in the opposite direction, as time goes on people are generally more forgiving of Presidents.  Their ratings, including Nixon's increase with time.

    Here is another link that is behind the NYT pay wall.  Headline reads:

    SUPPORT FOR FORD DECLINES SHARPLY; A Poll Links Drop to Pardon and Finds Disapproval for Timing of Action Substantial Loss Ford's Support Down Sharply in Poll

    While I respect your opinion, your contention that most people agree with you is false, guess I should have taken the wager.


    Appeal to Authority (none / 0) (#68)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 07:12:41 AM EST
    is the name of the logical fallacy comprising [citing] "several credible sources to underscore [your] own contention."

    We all do it, especially because those we cite are often more eloquent than we.  But that's not a problem you have, Donald.  Your writing stands on its own.

    IMO, the only upside to the furor surrounding and following Ford's pardon is that less attention is paid to Fords' next bonehead move, his WIN button.  Anybody remember Ford's WIN button campaign?  Whip Inflation Now?


    Yes (none / 0) (#71)
    by sj on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:44:11 PM EST
    the "Appeal to Authority" fallacy in the comment is why I stopped responding. And also the fact that agreement/disagreement with Ford's decision has been hashed and rehashed.

    If he wants to pretend he's never heard of counter arguments to the pardon then I'm not going blog clog just to indulge him.

    He sits on one side, I sit on the other. His opinion in no way invalidates mine. They are opinions after all, and not facts.


    I can't fault Ford's motives... (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by unitron on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:20:06 PM EST
    ...but in hindsight I'm not certain that it was the right thing to do.

    We might have been better off in the long run to more firmly establish the idea that we expect the President to obey the law and won't let them slide if they don't.


    That's a fair assessment. (none / 0) (#30)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:40:32 AM EST
    Certainly, we can now see that some Republicans obviously took away the wrong lessons from the country's Watergate experience.

    But President Ford was warned by many of his advisors and friends at the time that he risked political suicide by pardoning Nixon. Indeed, his own press secretary very publicly quit in disgust over his boss's action, and let everyone know why.

    So, Ford was hardly motivated by political self-aggrandizement. Rather, he made an enormously unpopular decision he thought best for the country, given the times and circumstances he faced.

    And that, IMHO, took real guts.


    Found this on the NPR site (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:36:58 PM EST
    from the late Daniel Schorr:

    In the stormy climax of Watergate with impeachment looming, Haig, who was Nixon's chief of staff, had a closed-door meeting with Vice President Ford. He warned that Nixon might throw the country into turmoil, might even pardon himself along with all the Watergate defendants. Or Nixon could resign and be pardoned by his successor.

    Ford asked how far the president's pardon power went, and Haig produced a legal memorandum indicating that the president could issue a pardon at any time, even before any criminal action had been undertaken.

    Ford said he needed to talk to his lawyers and to his wife. He seemed to be aware that he faced a momentous decision. If he agreed to the pardon, he might be perceived as making a deal for the presidency. Eventually, he told Haig that he could not give an answer, given the delicacy of the situation; and Haig indicated that he understood.

    And that was enough of a commitment to permit Haig to assure Nixon that he could count on an early pardon, which in fact came within weeks of Nixon's resignation.

    Was there a deal - the presidency for a pardon?

    Before a congressional committee, President Ford said emphatically: There was no deal. But Al Haig had reason to congratulate himself on having saved the country from the tumult of an impeachment struggle.

    This is Daniel Schorr.

    To be fair, when Daniel Schorr ... (none / 0) (#56)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:26:55 PM EST
    ... had worked for CBS News, he had been specifically singled out by the Nixon White House as one of the subjects on the President's infamous "Enemies List." As such, Schorr's own personal analysis and opinion on the subject of President Ford's pardon of Nixon can hardly be considered unbiased, albeit for a very good reason. Nixon had posed a very real threat to him personally.

    Further, we do know that then-Vice President Ford had specifically rebuffed Alexander Haig's entreaties out of hand when the subject of quid pro quo was first broached in early August 1974, and that Nixon resigned one week later without any such agreement having ever been made, let alone finalized.

    Politically, there was really no upside for Gerald Ford here. It is important to both note and remember that he had heretofore never sought or even desired the presidency in his own right. Rather, he had only reluctantly agreed to replace Spiro Agnew as vice president in November 1973 because congressional Democrats -- whose approval would be needed in any event -- liked him personally and urged him to strongly consider the offer, and further said they would support his nomination.

    Conventional wisdom at the time was that while the Watergate scandal would undoubtedly dog President Nixon for the rest of his term, he would probably survive in office. Like so many others, Ford really had no inkling in November 1973 that events were about to quickly cascade into a full-blown constitutional crisis, one which would thrust him into the Oval Office as president.

    And now, only nine months later, the entire weight of the nation and world was about to fall on Ford's shoulders, through no fault or machinations of his own. One has to feel for him in such a situation. He was about to become the country's first-ever appointed president. He was acutely aware that he enjoyed no public mandate, and that his would be an "accidental" presidency. His administration could only survive so long as the Watergate-weary public maintained its good will toward him.



    If you're saying that his way of remembering (none / 0) (#57)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:41:08 PM EST
    Haig is somehow connected to his being on the infamous 'enemies' list', I dunno, it seems a straightforward recitation of the facts of the case.  There was no explicit quid pro quo where Ford agreed that he'd pardon Nixon if he resigned before facing the full House and their vote to impeach him.  

    That much is clear, and it may be that Haigs' account is self-serving, and not entirely factual.

    IMHO, the perception that it was somehow an agreed-upon deal will probably only die with the rise of the generation that doesn't remember the resignation and pardon as actual events in history.  



    But it's not a straight-forward recitation. (none / 0) (#61)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 04:27:59 PM EST
    Rather, Schorr was putting his own particular spin on events, and then speculating on that basis.

    Ford repeatedly and adamantly denied that there was ever any quid pro quo deal. And to further underscore his denials, he answered a congressional line of inquiry personally, voluntarily going to Capitol Hill and allowing himself to be questioned under oath by members of a House sub-committee about the circumstances of the pardon. Also, Haig himself acknowledged that Ford had dismissed outright any talk of pardons prior to Nixon's resignation.

    Schorr, OTOH, made it sound like Haig walked away from Foggy Bottom with the notion that the pardon was a done deal, but he offered only his own conjecture to support his opinion.

    (That said, I must nevertheless acknowledge my immense respect for Daniel Schorr. He stands as one of the 20th century's truly courageous and great journalists, and I used to really look forward to his analysis of the week's events every Saturday morning on NPR's "Weekend Edition.")

    I'm afraid you may be right that negative perceptions about Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon will eventually die off only with the passing of our generation, who watched and experienced the unfolding of the Watergate scandal first-hand, and who obviously still harbor some very intense feelings about Nixon's criminal conduct.

    Okay, I've said enough. Back to work. Aloha.


    He is following Haigs' account which was (none / 0) (#65)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:43:02 PM EST
    included in the Watergate special I mentioned earlier. If someone is to be faulted, it would be Haigs' self-serving account, not Schorr.

    Point of clarification. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:32:09 PM EST
    By pardon in advance I was referring to pardon in advance of indictment.  Accordingly, there are parts to the dispute of Ford's action: the wisdom of pardoning prior to indictment, trial, conviction; or pardoning or commuting sentence after a conviction, if that occurred.  

    And, then there is the possibility that an arrangement was made in advance of Nixon's resignation with pardon a quid pro quo.  Given the known character of Nixon, the later was not out of the question. As for Ford, we are unlikely to know the truth.  But, for Ford, a consummate partisan, it does not seem unlikely, to me, that he would listen carefully to arguments other than national unity.

     However, from my perspective, the pardon not only denied justice, but also, robbed history of crucial information.  And, of course, set the stage for an unaccountable executive, attesting to Nixon's  position, that if the president does it, it is not against the law.  Nixon dodged the political penalty of impeachment,  and its the consequences, large and small (e.g. loss of pensions and secret service protection), and managed to escape, unlike his top underlings, criminal proceedings.


    The right-wing worked behind the scenes (none / 0) (#70)
    by jondee on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:18:31 AM EST
    to sabotage the 1968 Paris Peace Talks so that the Democrats couldn't present an "October Surprise" of peace to American families and it's young men and women and carry the Presidential election.

    That singularly loathsome act of treachery - that our so-called leaders and media has always been afraid to publicly examine in depth - made Watergate look like a bunch of little boys soaping windows on Halloween.

    How soon we forget. Down the memory hole..

    Someone here likes to talk (over-and-over) about people "soaking in blood" and "in blood up to their necks". How much unnecessary blood was spilt in SE Asia between 1968 and 1972?