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Varied views about President Ford

January 03, 2007

Re " 'Good man, faithful servant' honored," Dec. 31

It doesn't matter how much of a gentleman, a scholar or an athlete President Gerald R. Ford was. Nor does it matter that he tried his best to be truly bipartisan. What does matter is that his pardon of Richard Nixon set the tone for our current deplorable political environment. Imagine if Nixon had to actually face the facts in court and pay for his crimes against the Constitution he swore to protect. I would wager George H.W. Bush wouldn't have used the power of the pardon to free the criminals of President Reagan's administration, Bill Clinton wouldn't have pardoned billionaire Marc Rich, and the ability to abuse the power of the pardon would not inspire the shamelessness of the current administration.

GILBERT LESLIE

Los Angeles

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In watching the moving tributes to Ford, especially the ones by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and outgoing House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), I got the feeling that despite their statements extolling Ford's virtues, in reality they were thinking: "The views expressed here are not necessarily mine or those of the current administration." I hope the new year will usher in a return to sanity and peace that Ford championed.

HERBERT W. STARK

Massapequa, N.Y.

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In the thousands of words about Ford in The Times over the last few days, there has not been a mention of the fact that he and then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave Indonesian President Suharto a go-ahead to invade East Timor, resulting in the murder an estimated 200,000 people. Perhaps the Timorese would have a different view about what a great "healer" Ford was.

GARCIA OLIVER

Washington

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Re "Ford lost; so did Dems," Current, Dec. 31

Jonathan Chait's contention that in some larger sense Democrats have lost because Ford lost the 1976 election is incorrect. Ford announced he would not run in 1976 and then ran anyway. This and the Nixon pardon made him vulnerable to Jimmy Carter's successful Washington outsider campaign. Ford did not lose because liberals hated him. People just wanted a change from a corrupt Republican Watergate era. To say that Ford would be seen as a moderate today ignores the fact that the radical right has essentially hijacked the Republican Party, and reasonable positions on moral issues can now lose votes. Ford losing in 1976 had nothing to do with this change in culture. I do appreciate Chait's acknowledgment that he was only 4 in 1976. This explains a lot.

LINSTER W. FOX

Newport Beach

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To state that Carter "came into office under such terrible conditions" that no president could have succeeded is a pathetic excuse for a presidency with no direction, no purpose and, in the case of our hostages, no courage. To claim that if Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) had been elected in 2004 conservatives would have blamed him for the Iraq war is so absurd that it sounds almost paranoid. Here's a hint to Chait on how Democrats can win an election: choose a good candidate.

JOE STEVENS

Marina del Rey

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