Gerald Ford’s policy of healing and moving on, whether it was the right thing to do, or the wrong thing to do, was a failure. Rather than allowing honest conflict of opinion to flourish and consensus to form, Ford attempted to shut down debate and paper over conflict.
The debate addresses whether Ford was right to pardon Richard Nixon in order to heal the country and allow “the nation to move on“. Somehow this debate seems to only only occur in the abstract moral and political terms about the objective. Was it right to pardon Nixon?
What about in terms of whether the objection succeeded or failed? Did the pardon heal the country? Has the nation moved on?
I think that in those terms, it is clear the plan of healing and moving on, has failed abysmally. The mere fact that the question continues to surface, shows that the nation hasn’t moved on.
In addition, the questions that were in the air about Nixon’s behavior in 1974, remain in the air today. If the President does it, is it illegal? Is the President above the law? When should the United States intervene in the affairs of other countries? If we choose to intervene, how much force should we use? Was Vietnam a failure of will, or a failure of policy?
If the country was healed, and the nation moved on, why are we still debating these questions? I think the answer is clear, whatever the apparent merits of Ford’s pardon, heal and move on strategy in 1974, in 2007, it is clear that the strategy was a failure.