Wednesday, December 27, 2006


my first presidential memory is nixon resigning. i remember the TV on in the background and my mother telling me that the president wasn't allowed to be president anymore because he lied. so, my mother warned, if i lied i might be forced to resign from the presidency in disgrace. or something like that.

my next presidential memory was carter speaking about something or other. which means i really have no memory of president ford. and, aside from the retrospectives that are sure to follow soon, that's probably roughly reflects how most people think of his presidency these days. most of what i know about his presidency can be summed up in three simple points:
(1) he pardoned nixon.

(2) he appointed justice stevens to the supreme court.

(3) some of the worst members of the bush administration (e.g. rumsfeld and cheney) came out of the ford administration.
as far as i'm concerned number 2 is a clear positive, number 3 is a clear negative, and i generally lean negative on number 1 as well (though i also feel that i really needed to experience the watergate era to really understand how important it was for the country to get past the scandal)

we'll see how well those impressions hold out as the gushy retrospectiving begins. i just hope they resist the urge to canonize the man like they did with reagan.

UPDATE: hey, i just noticed that all of the things i knew about the ford administration involved its domestic policies. i really knew nothing about it's foreign policy. a fascinating run-down is here; not just because it gives a glimpse of a very different foreign policy philosophy than what we see today, but because it reveals a snapshot of the state of the world in the mid-70s.