Thursday, December 28, 2006

"The Foolish and the Dead Alone..."

"...never change their opinions." Thus spake James Russell Lowell, whose bon mot is the secret quote in today's New York Times crossword puzzle (sorry if I spoiled the fun for those of you who are still working on it!).

His contemporary Ralph Waldo Emerson made a similar observation: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." If I had to guess, I would say that the Emerson quote is the earlier of the two, and the Lowell squib a later paraphrase. But I'm not going to take the time to research it right now.

The point of offering you these quotes, dear reader, is that the local radio station today carried brief snippets from Representative Chris Shays and former Greenwich First Selectman/US Senator/Governor of CT Lowell Weicker. Both men mentioned how angry and upset they were when former President Gerry Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. Weicker, of course, had been part of the Watergate hearings, and Shays was just beginning his political career.

In their snippets both men revealed themselves as neither foolish nor dead. Over the ensuing decades, they both had changed their mind, and now believe that Ford's pardon was a statesmanlike thing to do - even though it probably cost him the 1976 presidential election.
[Correction: I seem to have misheard Mr. Shays; he still thinks the pardon was wrong. Sorry for the error!]

Your scribe was also one of those who was infuriated by the pardon and its smell of a back-room deal. And I was still fuming at election time and refused to vote for Ford (which is not exactly the same as voting for Carter, but pretty close). Now, three decades later, I look back through the shenanigans of Bill Clinton and the unfolding disaster in Iraq and wonder why I was so angry. I, too, have now come to believe that Ford did the right thing.

It's interesting to learn today that Ford was against the invasion of Iraq, though he asked that his views not be published until after his death. Given the current national climate, and the understandable lionization of
Ford that is underway as he lies in state, one is tempted to say that this longest-lived of US Presidents has performed yet one more service to his country by dying when he did. His newly-released opinions may help to gel the consensus that Bush's Iraq policy was an enormous blunder, and that it needs to be fixed right away.

WWGD? What would Gerry do? I suspect he would be strong enough to apologize to the Iraqis for ruining their country, and ask that they hold an immediate referendum as to whether our troops should stay or go. If, as one would expect, they asked us to leave, then Ford would probably mobilize every available transport carrier to start bringing our forces home that same day.

And then, one has to wonder...would he pardon George W. Bush?


Post a Comment

<< Home