Newsweek God Boy Jon Meacham tells Drudge that his magazine tomorrow is slapping Gerry Ford, rather than Saddam Hussein, on the cover, because Hussein's "death in 2006 matters less than his removal in 2003 does." As if Ford's death in 2006 matters MORE than his removal in 1977 did?
It's this kind of thinking (i.e., non-) that has so thoroughly defined the Ford coverage. Over on Salon.com, Walter Shapiro tells us that "only the most stubborn and unyielding Nixon haters still question whether the cleanse-the-air pardon was justified." The problem is, the pardon didn't "cleanse" the air. The pardon was Lysol.
Every don't-hate-me-cuz-I'm-liberal pundit is out there now saying, "yes, of course, I see now that the pardon was the wise thing to do, so that we as a nation could heal." Only Nixon-haters, we are told, think otherwise.
The problem with this is that the only way you can know that a pardon "healed" this country better than a trial would have, is if you saw the trial, and the after-effects of it. The only people who have done that are those such as the Flash and the Fantastic Four who are capable of casual travel to parallel universes.
And everyone's prognostications about a trial seem to stop with the trial itself. The trial would be ugly. The two parties would fight over it. People would say mean things. Yeah? So? Then what?
Let's check out Earth-Nixon for ourselves. Maybe there's an ugly trial. Partisan divides run deeper than they did during Earth-Pardon's Reagan-Carter campaign. If anything, conservatives would be even more ticked off than they were. So let's assume Reagan still carries the day.
Is it maybe, just slightly possible that one of the tertiary or, um, four-iary, or five-iary effects of a Nixon trial -- along with humiliating testimony, certainty of guilt and actual punishment -- might have been a chastening of those who sought to expand executive power? Specifically, is it possible that the Nixon/Ford veterans who argued even back in the '70s that the White House can do whatever it wants, might have been humbled or scared enough to rein in those impulses? Or even genuinely question them?
If so, is it possible--just maybe--that by the year 2000, neither Ford/Nixon veteran Donald Rumsfeld nor Dick Cheney would be quite so eager to push their inexperienced new president to unprecedented heights of executive hubris and constitutional violation? I don't know. We'll never know. All the editorial we's out there do seem to know is that...the pardon was right.