- The pardoning of President Nixon was not the best thing for the country, despite what the great wise men of Washington (Broder, Woodward, et. al.) say. It may have calmed things down inside the Beltway, but it brought no closure for the rest of the country. Over thirty years after Nixon left the White House, we are still debating Nixon's conduct. By contrast, consider the OJ trial: other than the occasional celebrity sighting of OJ in some bar or shopping mall, we don't talk about that mess anymore. Why? Because there was a trial and a verdict. No matter how you felt about the outcome of that trial, our legal process was allowed to operate as intended. This allowed the country to move on. President Ford circumvented this process and set one man above the law. That's as un-american as it gets, IMHO. In this light, I don't think it's a stretch to say that Nixon's pardon encouraged and enabled the conduct of the current occupant of the White House.
- In 1975, Indonesia occupied East Timor and killed over 200,000 people in the process. What did President Ford have to do with that? Well, he gave the government of Indonesia permission. You can read the high-level details here. You could argue that Kissinger had more to do with this tragedy than Ford, but Ford was president, not Kissinger. Ford could have persuaded the Indonesian government to go a different way, but he did not. The reasons don't matter much to me; those 200,000 dead people do. That blood stains President Ford's hands; I hope that his God is a forgiving one.
So, how will I remember President Ford? Fair to middlin', I guess. He may have been kind and intelligent and civil, but he made some large mistakes that still reverberate today. I guess you can say that about most presidents.