Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gerald Ford, Puerto Rico, Mayaguez and legacies

I have said nothing about the death of President Ford. I have been watching many other commentators remark on Ford's statemenship as a result of his pardon of President Nixon in 1974. Rather than add to that chorus, I thought I would say something original.

While I agree that Ford did the right thing in pardoning Nixon, I watch with interest as various commentators get themselves stuck on the same beaten path. It becomes so easy for those [even conservatives] who were raised on the MSM/DNC to repeat the easy storyline without remembering actual events or drawing lessons from a deeper perspective.

A lot can happen in any two year period, even during the Presidency of Gerald Ford. I think we can draw historical lessons from that period without mindlessly repeating the mantra that President Ford "healed the nation."

Most commentators seem to have forgotten about Ford's attempt to create statehood for Puerto Rico at the end of his administration following Ford's electoral defeat in 1976. While this forgotten incident seems to be minor, a last minute attempt to create statehood for Puerto Rico appears to be anything but statesmanlike. It was obvious to most observers at the time that Ford needed some legacy. Being remembered as the President who achieved statehood for Puerto Rico would have been a better legacy than nothing, which is Ford's actual legacy. Statehood would have created a reason for future schoolchildren to read Ford's name in a footnote every time they read the paragraph on Puerto Rico in their geography books.

Puerto Rican statehood, whenever created, would have serious repurcussions for this country and this hemisphere. Rejecting the recomendations of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Puerto Rico during a lame duck session solely for personal vanity would serve as a preview of Bill Clinton's presidency, who would spend his last years in office implementing bad policy in the hope of being remembered for something other than scandal.

On the other hand, Ford has received little credit for something that was worthy of praise. Most commentators seem to have forgotten also about Ford's successful handling of the Mayaguez incident in 1975. Ford's decisive action stands in marked contrast to his successor's failed handling of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, 1980 and 1981.


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