Why did Ford pardon Nixon?
1. Looks bad on presidency as well as Nixon himself
2. Hard to achieve an unbiased trail for the Supreme Court.
3. Trial would take a long time, would get forgotten quickly.
4. If Nixon was found guilty someone had to pardon him sooner or later.
5. Nixon was depressed might commit suicide, ‘the most depressed man I’ve ever seen’
6. It was the best way to end the American tragedy.
7. It was the Christian thing to do to show mercy.
8. Believed a resignation was an admission of guilt.
9. Concerned of Republican electoral prosects
Ford and Congress
Veto- He vetoed 66 (mainly spending) bills in his 29 months’ presidency, but congress overruled 12 of them. Relationship with congress poor, many blaming the fact that republicans were low within congress and a lack of prestige of the presidency.
Budget- Ford advocated a tax increase that congress didn’t want. A few weeks later Ford asked congress to approve a $16 billion tax cut, congress instead agreed to $7 billion, that Ford accepted. Revealed the president have no clear sense of direction and can be easily compromised.
Angola- Ford wanted to support the Anti-Soviet Angolese faction, but in 1975, Congress stopped Ford using the CIA in Angola.
The press turned against him after he pardoned Nixon, they used Johnston joke against him saying that he had played football to often without his helmet.
Clips where replayed of him falling on a ski slope in Colorado and falling down a plane ramp in Austria, one network even played in 11 times in one show.
A New York newspaper cover showed Ford as Bozo the clown, he was a laughing stock.
Ford lost support from the right wing republicans due to:
1. They didn’t like his VP Nelson Rockefeller, after his challenge to Goldwater in 1964. He also was the cause of the New York state recession and a supposed womaniser. After he promised to pay his $1 million back taxes, he was sworn in, Dec 1974, yet many were annoyed about the 4 month gap without a VP causing tension within the party.
2.After Nixon’s pardon and disastrous congressional midterm elections, the right-wing criticised Ford with the conservative New Hampshire new paper calling him ‘Jerry the Jerk.’
Right wing Californian Governor Ronald Reagan challenged Ford in the Republican nominations, 1976. ‘Ford thought Reagan was a phoney’ and Reagan thought Ford was a lightweight, overall neither thought each other would be good as president.
Backed Turkey during the Cyprus Crisis in which Greece and Turkey were fighting over the rights the Cyprus and who had control over it, Congress however favoured Greece so cut military aid to Turkey. Congress to power showing Ford as being weak.
Congress pushed Ford around again, suggesting that he meet with the soviet objector Alexander Solzhenitsyn, but as he was about to meet the soviet leader at that time Brezhnev he was reluctant. Senators suggest dates for the meeting which were stupid e.g. the 4th of July when they knew he was full booked, invitations were sent but Congress dropped the idea.
Republicans attacked Ford for attending the Helsinki conference in which USA allegedly agreed to the soviet union having domination of eastern Europe. Ford argued against the claims, that it was instead linked with human rights but no-one listen, there was little foreign policy to woo voters.
Divorce rates went up (40%), new attitudes to work, sex, family and personal freedom grew, the start of a cultural revolution.
Two thirds of female college students believe that women staying at home was nonsense and most women were expected to work most of their lives, even those with young families.
More women entered more traditionally male jobs e.g. medicine and law but only received 73% of the salary compared to men. Yet at the same time women dominated low paid jobs, making up 66% of adults classified as poor, the new phrase was ‘feminisation of poverty’ Betty Ford campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment but her husband did nothing, which resulted in a lack of votes.
Education was still a major problem when it came to equal rights for blacks and whites, in 1969 the supreme court ruled that ‘separate but equal’ was unconstitutional. Yet by 1974 the percentage of black in segregated schools in the south was down from 68% to just 8%, but in the north segregation remained.
In Boston, schools were separate but not equal, in 1965, 25% of students were black yet only 0.5% were teachers with no black principles. The NAACP took it to the federal district court, saying they had inadequate equipment and by June 1974, Boston was accused by the court of unconstitutional segregation in schools, ordering the busing of black students from Boston’s Roxbury area to the predominantly white South High School in the neighbouring Irish American South Boston; yet authorities didn’t comply.
White anti-busing groups e.g. Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR) sprang up, with parents of the school protesting jeering and throwing objects at black students with 9 children injured and 18 buses damaged.
Ford opposed busing but had troops ready when Boston kicked off, Dec 1974, a white student was stabbed and black students had to leave by the back after white parents surrounded the school. However, when Boston’s education authorities were being sanctions, busing increased and the violence decreased.
After WW2, America had an economic boom, but by 1970 it was over. Ford inherited inflation made worse by rising oil prices, in Aug 1974, unemployment rose by 5.4%, with the GNP and Dow Jones Industrial Average (stock price average).
The voters expected Ford to do something about it, initially he wanted to raise taxes to get rid of inflation, but his Whip Inflation Now (WIN) programme didn’t help.
Faced with slow economic growth, high employment and rising prices, lead to Ford proposing cutting taxes in Jan 1975. Voters were not impressed instead of changing the economy he instead just changed his mind and did the opposite to what he set out to do.
Struggles with Reagan
Backed by the right wing republicans, Reagan was able to challenge Ford for Republican nominations, he was an outsider yet as untainted by corruption. Expecting Reagan to attack Ford got rid of Rockefeller and several others known as the ‘Sunday Morning Massacre’ this annoyed several republican moderates.
Reagan claimed Ford’s Foreign policy was aimless emphasising Helsinki as a ‘betrayal’ he also commented on Ford consideration of US retreat at the Panama Canal, Reagan won North Carolina by suggesting that ‘we built it, we paid for it… we are going to keep it’.
Ford tried to use his presidency against Reagan, by promising federal contracts in states so to win primaries, Reagan also slipped up as well making the liberal governor of Pennsylvania his running mate.
In the end Ford was nominated yet Reagan had humiliated him and made it hard for him to go up against to democrat candidate Jimmy Carter.