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Author Topic: Former President Gerald Ford dies at 93
Steve
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
Either presidents face the law, or they don't. In Nixon's case, he didn't. The upside? Future presidents might have thought twice before breaking the law.

Oh, please. Sending much of his adminstration and election committee to jail didn't deter anyone. Why do you think it would have been a deterrent for presidents to send a former president to jail, more, that is, than having to resign in disgrace? You don't think resigning in disgrace is a strong enough deterrent if, indeed, deterrence works? If it isn't, we sure are electing some low lifes to the presidency.
Well, I certainly agree with your last sentence.

At any rate, I'm arguing for the idea that a criminal should have gone to jail. Yes, I know it was that criminal's own idea that his position should have gotten him out of that. I'm saying it shouldn't have.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
Yes, I know it was that criminal's own idea that his position should have gotten him out of that.

Say what?

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Steve
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
Yes, I know it was that criminal's own idea that his position should have gotten him out of that.

Say what?
http://www.landmarkcases.org/nixon/nixonview.html

"Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal."

As RMN told us all.

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Sara at home
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How'd that work out for him?

He didn't get to keep his job because the rest of the government didn't agree with him. So he was wrong and there is a record in history that says he was wrong.

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Steve
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
How'd that work out for him?

He didn't get to keep his job because the rest of the government didn't agree with him. So he was wrong and there is a record in history that says he was wrong.

So the punishment for criminals should be that they get bad press and lose their jobs? Or just him?
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Sara at home
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In some cases, that's good enough.

Despite what those of us who were there have said, you simply reject the idea that the country didn't need to be put through Nixon being charged, tried and, if convicted, sentenced to jail. That's your right, of course, but it would be nice if you could come up with some actually benefit to putting the country through that.

It would not have deterred anyone beyond what the impeachment and resignation did. Imprisoning administration officials certainly didn't deter all future administration officials.

It would not have forced Nixon to agree that he committed illegal acts. If the impeachment process and resignation didn't force him to do that, why would sitting in prison do it?

Is it all about getting a pound of flesh? Retribution? Why cut our nose to spite our face? Putting Nixon through it would have put the whole country through it. Why bother?

And don't be glib about it. Nixon wasn't the middle management guy or the gas station attendent or the school teacher down the street. He was President of the United States. It wasn't just his friends and family who knew what he did and that he was forced out of his job. The whole world knew he resigned in disgrace over a botched burglary of his opponent's offices and the cover-up of that burglary. Let' keep some perspective here.

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Steve
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
In some cases, that's good enough.

Despite what those of us who were there have said, you simply reject the idea that the country didn't need to be put through Nixon being charged, tried and, if convicted, sentenced to jail. That's your right, of course, but it would be nice if you could come up with some actually benefit to putting the country through that.

It would not have deterred anyone beyond what the impeachment and resignation did. Imprisoning administration officials certainly didn't deter all future administration officials.

It would not have forced Nixon to agree that he committed illegal acts. If the impeachment process and resignation didn't force him to do that, why would sitting in prison do it?

Is it all about getting a pound of flesh? Retribution? Why cut our nose to spite our face? Putting Nixon through it would have put the whole country through it. Why bother?

And don't be glib about it. Nixon wasn't the middle management guy or the gas station attendent or the school teacher down the street. He was President of the United States. It wasn't just his friends and family who knew what he did and that he was forced out of his job. The whole world knew he resigned in disgrace over a botched burglary of his opponent's offices and the cover-up of that burglary. Let' keep some perspective here.

You asked me not to glib. I'll do that, if you promise not to bring up the age of anyone responding to you. Promise? It seems fair that if I answer your question seriously, you won't tell me I wasn't there. OK?

I'm afraid I agree with you on the nature of Nixon's punishment. He had to resign, but his retirement years were spent remarkably comfortably. He proved that a president could define himself as above the law, and, if called on it, he could retire while his party remained in power. Which isn't much punishment at all.

I'm not sure why you ask above about "putting the whole country throught it" as though that would have been a terrible thing. It's precisely what I think was needed. And I think it's a shame that we never got it.

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BeachLife
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
....I'll do that, if you promise not to bring up the age of anyone responding to you. Promise?...

But, age is entirely relevent. You can't possibly compare what you've read in a history book to what someone else remembers and experienced. Sorry, it just doesn't work like that.

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Confessions of a Dragon's scribe
Diary of my Heart Surgery

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Steve
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quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
....I'll do that, if you promise not to bring up the age of anyone responding to you. Promise?...

But, age is entirely relevent. You can't possibly compare what you've read in a history book to what someone else remembers and experienced. Sorry, it just doesn't work like that.
Yes it does. There are many historical situations I wasn't alive for. Same for you. Do you mean we can't judge them? Of course we can. Is slavery just what I've "read in a history book", or may I discuss that?
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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
You asked me not to glib. I'll do that, if you promise not to bring up the age of anyone responding to you. Promise? It seems fair that if I answer your question seriously, you won't tell me I wasn't there. OK?


No, it's not ok. Like it or not, you weren't there at the time and you didn't experience first hand the mood of the country. It's relevant.

quote:
I'm afraid I agree with you on the nature of Nixon's punishment. He had to resign, but his retirement years were spent remarkably comfortably.

His life would have been exactly that same if he had been tried, convicted and sent to jail for his 18 months. He would have gotten out and lived comfortably in his retirement years.

quote:
He proved that a president could define himself as above the law, and, if called on it, he could retire while his party remained in power. Which isn't much punishment at all.

That part about his party remaining in power.....that's the way the Constitution works. That's one of the things we prided ourselves on back then...the orderly, legal transfer of power.

quote:
I'm not sure why you ask above about "putting the whole country throught it" as though that would have been a terrible thing. It's precisely what I think was needed. And I think it's a shame that we never got it.
Well, you weren't there. I was, I thought Nixon needed to be tried, in retrospect I was wrong.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
Yes it does. There are many historical situations I wasn't alive for. Same for you. Do you mean we can't judge them? Of course we can. Is slavery just what I've "read in a history book", or may I discuss that?

I wouldn't have presumed to tell my parents and grandparents what the mood of the nation was during the Great Depression or during WWII. I could read about it in the books but I learned a lot from those who were there.

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BeachLife
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
Yes it does. There are many historical situations I wasn't alive for. Same for you. Do you mean we can't judge them? Of course we can. Is slavery just what I've "read in a history book", or may I discuss that?

I wouldn't have presumed to tell my parents and grandparents what the mood of the nation was during the Great Depression or during WWII. I could read about it in the books but I learned a lot from those who were there.
And looking forward, I hope that we would all agree that text books will never fully convey the way we felt as individuals, and as a nation on 9/11.

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Rebochan the Retail Reindeer
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That's all well and good that we understand current sentiments, but dismissing opposing arguments with "You weren't there!" is childish at best. We discuss all kinds of events on these boards that none of us could be alive for, and while striving for context is important in understanding any era, living through an era doesn't make someone the sole arbiter of what is and isn't right.

I actually agree with what Ford had to do, I just don't like the way the arguments for it have been presented.

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Christie
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quote:
Originally posted by Rebochan the Retail Reindeer:
That's all well and good that we understand current sentiments, but dismissing opposing arguments with "You weren't there!" is childish at best. We discuss all kinds of events on these boards that none of us could be alive for, and while striving for context is important in understanding any era, living through an era doesn't make someone the sole arbiter of what is and isn't right.

No it doesn't, but it does mean you have first hand knowledge of what was being talked about, how people were feeling and what the national mood actually was and, no matter how well read, those who came along later cannot know that with any certainty. Especially if their opinions are being coloured by the perspective of someone with an axe to grind. Why is this even a subject of discussion?

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Rebochan the Retail Reindeer:
That's all well and good that we understand current sentiments, but dismissing opposing arguments with "You weren't there!" is childish at best.


That's a crap argument for a number of reasons.
1. No one did that. "You weren't there" only comes up when it needs to be pointed out to those who incorrectly think they know what the mood of the country was despite the input from those who were there.
2. The childish part is dismissing what others are reporting because (g)you weren't there, as if just because (g)you didn't experience it, it doesn't exist or the reporting isn't valid.
3. Opposing arguments were countered with legitimate arguments which were (childishly) dismissed with the attitude that those of us who were there at the time couldn't possible know more than those who weren't.

quote:
We discuss all kinds of events on these boards that none of us could be alive for, and while striving for context is important in understanding any era, living through an era doesn't make someone the sole arbiter of what is and isn't right.

Bad analogy because a whole bunch of us were alive for the Watergate debacle. Living through it gives us a better understanding of the mood of the country at the time, which is the basis of the argument for pardoning.

quote:
I actually agree with what Ford had to do, I just don't like the way the arguments for it have been presented.
So, without reusing any of the arguments already presented for why the pardon was the right thing to do, tell us why you agree. What's your argument for it?

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Rebochan the Retail Reindeer:
I actually agree with what Ford had to do, I just don't like the way the arguments for it have been presented.

So, without reusing any of the arguments already presented for why the pardon was the right thing to do, tell us why you agree. What's your argument for it?
In further consideration of this discussion, I am wondering if I have misunderstood you, Rebochan. Are you saying that you agree with the arguments that those of us who were there have made, just that we didn't present those arguments to your liking? If that's the case, then please, going back to the original times we presented our arguments, tell us where we went wrong. Now, don't go to those times when I (or anyone else if there was anyone else) said "Well, you weren't there," or "Maybe you had to be there," because those weren't the orginal arguments. That was the counter to the assertions from people who weren't there and didn't experience the mood of the country that our arguments about the pardon were wrong. Keep in mind that those arguments are based on the mood of the country at the time, something at least a few of those opposed to the pardon are quite willing to dismiss as irrelevant. If you can find an instance where someone someone made "You weren't there" as their first or only argument, please provide a link because I'm totally unaware of that happening.

And answer me this. Why does personal experience count for nothing with some of you? How do you know so much about things you never experienced?

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
And answer me this. Why does personal experience count for nothing with some of you? How do you know so much about things you never experienced?

Although I haven't participated in this thread (I think), I'll have a go at answering these.

When personal experience is acknowledged to be the limited resource that it is, or when the experience in question is limited in scope, then I don't have an issue with people using it. It starts getting a bit iffy when people use their personal experience of things that happened on a grand scale (ie; any war, national or international event, etc) and start projecting their experience on to large groups of people.

Certainly, multiple testimonies from a variety of sources can certainly lend credibility to the fact that a large segment of the population felt a particular way on a given topic. If all that is being proven is whether a lot of people felt a certain way about something, then that's definitely sufficient. In that instance, "being there" is entirely relevent to the discussion.

Having "not been there", I can be just as knowledgable about any event as the next guy -- all I have to do is study the data available. The only thing missing would be my own personal experience.

To my way of thinking, personal experience is trumped by learned knowledge (eg; participating in the American Civil War versus being a Civil War historian) which is in turn trumped by learned knowledge plus personal experience (participating in the Civil War and then going on to become a scholar on the subject).

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BeachLife
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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
And answer me this. Why does personal experience count for nothing with some of you? How do you know so much about things you never experienced?

Although I haven't participated in this thread (I think), I'll have a go at answering these.

When personal experience is acknowledged to be the limited resource that it is, or when the experience in question is limited in scope, then I don't have an issue with people using it. It starts getting a bit iffy when people use their personal experience of things that happened on a grand scale (ie; any war, national or international event, etc) and start projecting their experience on to large groups of people.

Certainly, multiple testimonies from a variety of sources can certainly lend credibility to the fact that a large segment of the population felt a particular way on a given topic. If all that is being proven is whether a lot of people felt a certain way about something, then that's definitely sufficient. In that instance, "being there" is entirely relevent to the discussion.

Having "not been there", I can be just as knowledgable about any event as the next guy -- all I have to do is study the data available. The only thing missing would be my own personal experience.

To my way of thinking, personal experience is trumped by learned knowledge (eg; participating in the American Civil War versus being a Civil War historian) which is in turn trumped by learned knowledge plus personal experience (participating in the Civil War and then going on to become a scholar on the subject).

So you can be just as knowlegable on pregnancy as a women who's had a baby? On parenting as someone who's raised kids? On Germany as a German born and raised in that country? On open heart surgery as someone who's undergone that surgery?

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
So you can be just as knowlegable on pregnancy as a women who's had a baby? On parenting as someone who's raised kids? On Germany as a German born and raised in that country? On open heart surgery as someone who's undergone that surgery?

Err... yes.

Would I have the same level of understanding? No. I can definitely have as much or even more knowledge though.

For example, I'd imagine that a heart surgeon has quite a lot more knowledge about heart surgery than the patient. The surgeon would not have required to undergo heart surgery to have that knowledge, however the patient has a much greater understanding of what it is like to have the procedure.

Again, I'll refer back to the comment I made where I find that learned knowledge trumps personal experience but learned knowledge plus personal experience trumps all.

ETA: To throw in a personal anecdote, I have asthma and have done since I was 6 months old. This means I have just over 31 years of personal experience with asthma. Yet having asthma doesn't automatically mean I know anything about it beyond "sometimes it gets hard to breathe". As it turns out, I've learnt bit and pieces about asthma over time but I guarantee that there will be a researcher or specialist out there who does not have asthma and knows a damn lot more about asthma than I ever will. However an asthma specialist who also suffers from asthma would have the advantage of knowledge and understanding.

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Publius
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
And answer me this. Why does personal experience count for nothing with some of you? How do you know so much about things you never experienced?

I certainly don't want to denigrate personal experience (yours or anyone else's, Sara), but it does have its limits. I don't think anyone dispute the truth of the things that your personal experience can tell us: that the Watergate scandal was incredibly traumatic for the country or that Ford's pardon of Nixon ended that public trauma, for example. At the same time, there are some important things that personal experience alone can't provide:

1. Value judgments.

Your personal experience can tell us that the pardon of Nixon brought a much faster end to an experience that was very traumatic for the American people. It can't, however, tell us whether ending that traumatic experience was the most important thing to be done. Ford's choice, like all others, involved trade-offs. Ford chose to trade a number of things (things like a strong rebuke to the imperial presidency, a demonstration of equality before the law, or simply getting a comprehensive account of the facts of Watergate in pthe public discourse) in exchange for an end to public trauma.

Was ending a national trauma more important than achieving the things that would have been achieved by putting Nixon on trial (or by granting Nixon a conditional, rather than an unconditional, pardon)? Quite possibly. Merely having been there, however, can't tell us that for sure.

To make these value judgments, in practice, it's often useful to rely on:

2. Hindsight. No one's disputing that the Watergate scandal was incredibly traumatic for the nation. No one's disputing that it monopolized the public discourse and just generally made the American people feel really, really awful.

In hindsight, though, was making the American feel better the most important that could have been done in, say, 1974-1976? In hindsight, what valuable things did the national discourse achieve in that period that it would not have achieved had Nixon been put on trial?

Knowing that Nixon's party was rehabilitated within six years of his resignation, was it still worth it? Knowing that that Nixon's imperial presidency, its thuggery (masquerading as "law-and-order" and "toughness"), and its corrupt relationship with national security/foreign policy elites were all still powerful forces within that party? Knowing that Ford's pardon of Nixon set a precedent for the Iran-contra pardons? Knowing the impression the situation made on key members of the Ford White House (like the chief of staff and the defense secretary)?

Now, maybe I'm wrong about all of the above. To evaluate that, however, you have to examine what we know now, not just how things felt in 1974.

In that vein, hindsight is valuable because it can take advantage of:

3. A wide variety of points of view.

You were "there" insofar as you were a living member of the American public, Sara, and no one's disputing that you can give a firsthand account of how it felt to be a member of the American public at the time. Simply being "there" in that sense, doesn't give you a monopoly on the analysis of Watergate. For one thing, quite a few people who were "there" in the same sense disagree with you. In order to resolve that disagreement, again, we need to examine facts that we know now--facts that are available to people who weren't "there," too.

Moreover, you were "there" only in a very limited sense. You weren't a member of the Ford White House, the national security establishment, the Congress, or the Republican or Democratic parties. You weren't there when Dick Cheney was forming his ideas of executive authority.

You were a participant in the national discourse, and you knew how Ford's pardon affected that discourse in the immediate sense. You couldn't have known, and couldn't have been expected to know, how that pardon would shape the elites who would continue to shape the national discourse and national politics in the long term.

You were there. You have a leg up on me in this discussion. That doesn't mean there can't be a discussion. You have a leg up on me in crafting your argument, but you still have to actually make an argument and present evidence to back it up: you can't just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know.

To use BeachLife's analogy: I wouldn't claim to understand, on an emotional level, what it's like to experience pregnancy as well as a pregnant woman does (just as I wouldn't claim to understand what things felt like in 1974 as well as you do). If I went to med school and became an Ob/Gyn, though, I'd understand the underlying biological significance of pregnancy at least as well as an untrained pregnant woman. Similarly, we really are allowed to dispute each others' understandings of the long-term political significance of Watergate.

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
To use BeachLife's analogy: I wouldn't claim to understand, on an emotional level, what it's like to experience pregnancy as well as a pregnant woman does (just as I wouldn't claim to understand what things felt like in 1974 as well as you do). If I went to med school and became an Ob/Gyn, though, I'd understand the underlying biological significance of pregnancy at least as well as an untrained pregnant woman. Similarly, we really are allowed to dispute each others' understandings of the long-term political significance of Watergate.

Which was pretty much what I was trying to get at... although I sidetracked myself a little.

I think you made more sense though.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
You have a leg up on me in crafting your argument, but you still have to actually make an argument and present evidence to back it up: you can't just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know.

As I said before, neither I nor the others who have stated cases for why the pardon was right have "just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know." That seems to be your fall-back argument when you choose not to respond to the arguments that have been made. No matter what arguments we make, you simply dismiss them as you just did with that statement. According to you, I have never made any other argument than "I know more because I was there." That's factually wrong.

The "maybe you had to be there" statements have nothing to do with your age; the same statement could be made of anyone of any age who for whatever reason was unable to experience of the mood of the nation at that time. Most 20 year olds got it back in 1975 but then they lived with it on the news and in the papers for two years, they experienced the mood of the nation. In fact, I think some who have made the same arguments I have were about 20 years old at the time. No, it's not about age. Again, you're wrong. It's about knowledge and experience.

With all this whining about my use of "maybe you had to be there", incorrectly repeatedly calling it my only argument, I'm still waiting for someone to explain how trying Nixon was going prevent future corruption in politics. As I have said more than once, sending all those people from his administration to jail didn't deter future officials from corruption. Nixon resigning in disgrace didn't deter future presidents from abuse of power. How was trying and, if convicted (don't forget the "if convicted" part, there are no guarantees), sending him to jail was going to end political corruption? Sort of like the death penalty has ended murder, eh? A bit simplistic and idealistic, wouldn't you say?

But what do I know??

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Salamander
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
You have a leg up on me in crafting your argument, but you still have to actually make an argument and present evidence to back it up: you can't just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know.

As I said before, neither I nor the others who have stated cases for why the pardon was right have "just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know." That seems to be your fall-back argument when you choose not to respond to the arguments that have been made. No matter what arguments we make, you simply dismiss them as you just did with that statement. According to you, I have never made any other argument than "I know more because I was there." That's factually wrong.
Publius was responding specifically to your question "How do you know so much about things you've never experienced?". I don't think the argument is that all you've ever said is "you're too young to know". You put it in those terms, the answer kinda has to be along those lines too, right?

quote:
The "maybe you had to be there" statements have nothing to do with your age; the same statement could be made of anyone of any age who for whatever reason was unable to experience of the mood of the nation at that time. Most 20 year olds got it back in 1975 but then they lived with it on the news and in the papers for two years, they experienced the mood of the nation. In fact, I think some who have made the same arguments I have were about 20 years old at the time. No, it's not about age. Again, you're wrong. It's about knowledge and experience.

But that is, in essence, the "you're too young" argument. Although I'm starting to see perhaps a level of misunderstanding. I think the difference here is a misunderstanding between "you're too young to understand" and "you weren't alive/old enough at the time"...

I can't explain it better and I'm in a rush. I'll think on it more on the way home and see if I can explain myself later.

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kitoboo
Deck the Malls


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When Nixon was pardoned I too was furious. Later, much later, I felt that maybe it really was a good thing for the country. I want to add a little to the discussion about putting this feeling in context.

This country had been under great turmoil and distress for a long time. The Watergate scandal came near the end of it. It was not the only thing that was going on at the time.

There was the cold war which had been going on from my earliest memory. There was a very real threat of nuclear attack, much more so than there is today by the emerging nuclear powers.

The McCarthy hearings were a recent memory. McCarthyism was still rampant.

J. Edgar Hoover was spying on US citizens and investigating those he thought held dangerous political views including civil rights leaders and opponents of the VietNam war.

There were the assasinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The civil rights movement was violent and stressful. This was in the news daily.

The Vietnam war was dividing the country. Family and friends were often on opposite sides of this issue. Almost everyone knew someone directly affected by the war and had friends or relatives who died there. There were demonstrations that often turned to violence by one side or the other. This was also in the daily news.

All of this had been happening at the same time and had been happening for a well over a decade before Watergate even happened. The country was exhausted. The country may be divided on many issues today but the emotions and frustrations of it's citizens were much higher then. This is the part that I think may be hard for people who didn't live through it to grasp. By the time Watergate happened we were exhausted, emotionally drained.

There have been many good points brought up here about why Nixon should not have been pardoned. However, after he was pardoned the country slowly returned to a feeling of normalcy which we hadn't had in a long time. If Nixon had not been pardoned I don't know that this would have happened.

If Watergate had happened during an ordinary election year then I agree the pardon would have been the wrong thing to do. In context though I now believe it was the right thing to do at the time.

-kitoboo

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Publius
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
You have a leg up on me in crafting your argument, but you still have to actually make an argument and present evidence to back it up: you can't just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know.

As I said before, neither I nor the others who have stated cases for why the pardon was right have "just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know." That seems to be your fall-back argument when you choose not to respond to the arguments that have been made. No matter what arguments we make, you simply dismiss them as you just did with that statement. According to you, I have never made any other argument than "I know more because I was there." That's factually wrong.
Your reply to my first post in this thread was

quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
In all seriousness, could someone explain to me what is meant by the idea that Ford's pardon of Nixon fostered "national healing"?


Probably not, if you haven't understood from Lainie's and my posts so far....
You really need to try to understand the era instead of spinning what happened to fit the ideas you have. You are so wrong on your speculation that I have to believe you don't know much about the the time period under discussion.

Your reply to Ramblin' Dave, much earlier in the thread, was

quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Ramblin' Dave, quietly making noise:
Maybe itīs just that Iīm too young to remember it, but I really donīt believe that. I never really have bought into the idea that itīs somehow wrong to come down hard on the president when he does something clearly wrong. And Nixon did a lot of things that were clearly wrong.

You're too young to remember.

It wasn't about not coming down hard on a person but about putting a nightmare behind the country and moving forward. That really needed to happen.

Of course, it's perfectly legitimate to argue that putting Watergate behind us was the most important thing for the country in 1974. It's just that that argument needs to be made in light of what's happened since, and what we know now. What would convince me isn't just your assurance that "that really needed to happen," but your explanation as to why that was more important than the things that a Nixon trial could have achieved.

quote:
With all this whining about my use of "maybe you had to be there", incorrectly repeatedly calling it my only argument, I'm still waiting for someone to explain how trying Nixon was going prevent future corruption in politics.
I'm not whining. I'm actually trying to have a productive discussion with you about the issue at hand.

First: In the same way that you've been waiting for someone, I want to know precisely what "national healing" meant and why it was the most important thing for the long-term health of the country. That's the issue that, thus far, you've preferred to dismiss than to engage. What concrete harm would a continued focus on Watergate have done to the country?

Now, as I see it, the trial of Nixon could have accomplished a few things. Here, in my opinion, are some of the more important:

1. It probably would have compelled Nixon to testify in his own defense, getting his detailed and comprehensive account of Watergate out there in active public discourse in ways that it otherwise was not.

2. Exactly as you suggest, it would have dragged out the Watergate scandal and made the American elecorate (especially Nixon voters) feel pretty bad. I differ from you insofar as I'm not convinced that this would have been a bad thing. The American electorate had been duped by what ought to have been fairly transparent thuggery, and was in this way complicit in some pretty bad things. The American electorate should have been forced to confront this ugly reality for as long as possible; maybe American voters would have been more careful next time.

3. Specifically, in dragging out the Watergate scandal, it would have left Nixon's erstwhile admirers no way to imagine that their old hero was anything more than a common criminal. There could be no imagining that Nixon was a victim of political intrigue, no allegations that Nixon had just gotten caught doing what all politicians did, no apologetics about how Nixon was a good president who made an isolated mistake, just absolutely no uncertainty as to what a contemptible piece of dirt Nixon really was. There would have been no eulogies in 1994. Nixon would have been found guilty in free and open court, the facts would all have been on the record, and maybe the old Nixonians would actually have been shamed into changing their ideology and their political behavior.

4. Likewise, in prolonging Watergate, it probably would have forced old Nixon supporters to acknowledge that the problem was not just the individual named Richard Nixon, and that it was not just "Watergate." The problem was much deeper than that, and had to do with Nixonian government (proto-fascist thuggery masquerading as "law-and-order" and "toughness"). Ideally, this would have tainted other enduring products of Nixonian government, like certain strains of Vietnam-era hawkishness and the "war on drugs."

I should add that, in my mind, a Nixon trial wasn't the ideal solution either. I think Ford made a huge mistake in granting Nixon an unconditional pardon. I think the best way to handle the situation was a Truth-and-Reconciliation model: Nixon gets a pardon in exchange in exchange for explaining absolutely everything he did, unconditionally repudiating what he did, and utterly prostrating himself in front of Congress and the American people.

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, and I don't fault Ford for not dreaming up the Truth-and-Reconciliation model at the time. But that's why I'd like to talk about this now.

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Sara at home
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
You have a leg up on me in crafting your argument, but you still have to actually make an argument and present evidence to back it up: you can't just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know.

As I said before, neither I nor the others who have stated cases for why the pardon was right have "just keep telling us that we're wrong because we're just too young to know." That seems to be your fall-back argument when you choose not to respond to the arguments that have been made. No matter what arguments we make, you simply dismiss them as you just did with that statement. According to you, I have never made any other argument than "I know more because I was there." That's factually wrong.
Publius was responding specifically to your question "How do you know so much about things you've never experienced?". I don't think the argument is that all you've ever said is "you're too young to know". You put it in those terms, the answer kinda has to be along those lines too, right?

I disagree. I think he was making the argument that my only argument in this thread is "you're too young to know."

quote:
The "maybe you had to be there" statements have nothing to do with your age; the same statement could be made of anyone of any age who for whatever reason was unable to experience of the mood of the nation at that time. Most 20 year olds got it back in 1975 but then they lived with it on the news and in the papers for two years, they experienced the mood of the nation. In fact, I think some who have made the same arguments I have were about 20 years old at the time. No, it's not about age. Again, you're wrong. It's about knowledge and experience.

But that is, in essence, the "you're too young" argument. Although I'm starting to see perhaps a level of misunderstanding. I think the difference here is a misunderstanding between "you're too young to understand" and "you weren't alive/old enough at the time"...[/QB][/QUOTE]
That's what happens when the part about "exeperiencing the mood of the nation" is simply dismissed.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Publius
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:

But that is, in essence, the "you're too young" argument. Although I'm starting to see perhaps a level of misunderstanding. I think the difference here is a misunderstanding between "you're too young to understand" and "you weren't alive/old enough at the time"...

That's what happens when the part about "exeperiencing the mood of the nation" is simply dismissed.
As I've tried very hard to make clear, I'm not trying to dismiss your experience of the national mood in 1974 at all. I just don't think it gives you a monopoly on the truth of the matter, and I would have appreciated it if you had engaged the substance of what I had to say rather than simply declaring that I was wrong and that I knew nothing about the topic.

I've enjoyed your posts before, Sara, and I don't think we're actually engaging the substance or evaluating the evidence of the matter at hand. I hope you won't be offended if I bow out of this thread.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
Your reply to my first post in this thread was
quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
In all seriousness, could someone explain to me what is meant by the idea that Ford's pardon of Nixon fostered "national healing"?


Probably not, if you haven't understood from Lainie's and my posts so far....
You really need to try to understand the era instead of spinning what happened to fit the ideas you have. You are so wrong on your speculation that I have to believe you don't know much about the the time period under discussion.


The thread begins when you started posting? Full of yourself a bit? What you asked had already been covered. If you didn't get it from what was already stated, I suspected you wouldn't. I was right.
quote:
Your reply to Ramblin' Dave, much earlier in the thread, was
quote:
Originally posted by Ramblin' Dave, quietly making noise:
[qb] Maybe itīs just that Iīm too young to remember it, but I really donīt believe that. I never really have bought into the idea that itīs somehow wrong to come down hard on the president when he does something clearly wrong. And Nixon did a lot of things that were clearly wrong.

You're too young to remember.

It wasn't about not coming down hard on a person but about putting a nightmare behind the country and moving forward. That really needed to happen.

And that was a legitimate response to Dave who speculated "Maybe it's just that I'm too young to remember....". I was validating his thought. At least you didn't take my comments out of context; you left the context there, you just ignored it.

I'm sorry, but I can't respond to the rest of your post. Your condescending, know-it-all tone about what the electorate should have been put through in order to teach it a lesson represents so little understanding of what was going on and your determination to ignore what those who were there have tried to explain in this thread is so apparent that I can't be bothered.

And your idea that Nixon would have testified openly and honestly if tried is laughable.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Publius
Happy Holly Days


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I just want to clarify that I do not mean to be condescending towards you or anyone else, that I do not believe I have all or even any of the answers as far as Watergate goes, and that I do not believe that my contribution to this thread is by any means the most important one. With the exception of one regrettable outburst, I have really tried to be as humble and restrained as possible; if I've failed, I apologize.

(Nor do I believe Nixon would have testified openly and honestly, though I do believe he would have testified.)

I urge you to consider that I wanted, in all seriousness, to discuss this topic in good faith. I regret that this did not happen, and I take responsibility for my part in that.

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Zachary Fizz
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I have a question, which may seem rhetorical but is not intended to be. I've been wracking my brains to work this out.

I gather that many or perhaps most Americans nowadays consider that the USA failed badly in the post civil war period, by allowing the Southern states to enact racial segregation laws which continued some (though not all) of the aspects of slavery up to the mid 1960s. I also understand that it is accepted that this failure in part stemmed from a desire to move on from the horrible division of the 1860s, and as it were to heal the nation.

How can this be distinguished from the alleged moral failure of the Ford administration in pardoning Mr Nixon? Was the need for healing of 1970s America greater than that of 1870s America?

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Sylvanz
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I think the mistake you are making is poor analogy. Slavery and Nixon's underhanded maneuvering are really not at all the same. I also don't think the reasoning for Jim Crow etc. was so the country could heal. Someone more versed in history could probably do better justice to your question, but those are my first thoughts regarding it.

I really think that there is a failure to communicate here. Honestly, you really had to be there. It was one of the most tumultuous times for the USA in modern history. As Kitaboo tried to point out (and was roundly ignored) there was a lot more going on than just Watergate. Watergate was just the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. It galls me no end that Nixon did not sit in jail or at least go to trial. However, if any of you think he would have quietly submitted to a trial, and gone to jail with presidential dignity, and not attempt to tear the country into further shreds, then you didn't know Nixon.

You think that him going to prison would have changed anything? I disagree. Has anyone taken notice of what Liddy is doing lately? Arguably he was the thuggiest of Nixon's thugs. Is he suffering a loss of income? Reputation? Is he on the street for want of a job? Is he reviled by the Republican party? No, and this is probably what would have happened with Nixon. Though, frankly neither "side" here can, with certainty, say what would have happened, but I think the evidence leans toward a country in worse turmoil, despair and cynicism than it was already experiencing, and a glib ex-con president making millions of dollars with his tell all book (lies of course) and speaking engagements. Good grief have you all not noticed the likes of Rush, Liddy, and Coulter? You think Nixon going to jail would change anything at all? I would attempt an analogy here, but really there is no comparison.

P&LL, Syl

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Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. — Voltaire

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by BeachLife:
So you can be just as knowlegable on pregnancy as a women who's had a baby? On parenting as someone who's raised kids? On Germany as a German born and raised in that country? On open heart surgery as someone who's undergone that surgery?

I thought of offering the experience of childbirth vs reading about it as an analogy as well - but somehow I knew it would be dismissed out of hand. As it was.

quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
quote:
Originally posted by Publius:
To use BeachLife's analogy: I wouldn't claim to understand, on an emotional level, what it's like to experience pregnancy as well as a pregnant woman does (just as I wouldn't claim to understand what things felt like in 1974 as well as you do). If I went to med school and became an Ob/Gyn, though, I'd understand the underlying biological significance of pregnancy at least as well as an untrained pregnant woman. Similarly, we really are allowed to dispute each others' understandings of the long-term political significance of Watergate.

Which was pretty much what I was trying to get at... although I sidetracked myself a little.

I think you made more sense though.

I do love this determination some feel to dismiss personal experience as being worth nothing. You can dress up your comments any way you want but when you have to start arguing that *IF* you were a qualified OB/GYN then you would know more about childbirth than an "untrained" pregnant woman your condescension comes shining through.

Your apparent determination to believe that those of us discussing the aftermath of Watergate from our personal experience of what life was like at the time cannot also have cracked a book or two (or even studied the subject extensively) is insulting.

We get it. You've read some books. Wonderful. Do you imagine for one minute that we have not? That we are holding our personal experience to our breasts and muttering "book l'arning? we don't need no stinking book l'arning?"

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If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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Sara at home
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Let's look at the likelihood of a trial and jail time being a deterrent:

John Mitchell was tried, convicted and sentenced to jail time in 1974 for his activities while a Nixon associate. When he was released from jail, he lived with his companion, Mary Gore Dean. Her daughter, Deborah Gore Dean was convicted of wrongdoing in 1987 for activities she engaged in while working for HUD during the Reagan era. Even an association as close as Deborah Dean's one was with John Mitchell, she still wasn't deterred from wrongdoing by his conviction and jailing.

And as I have pointed out more than once (though I didn't mention names), the baby dirty tricksters from the Nixon era -- most obviously Rove and Atwater -- weren't deterred by the jailing of Liddy et al.

Arrogant people with a strong sense of entitlement aren't persuaded that they aren't above the law by someone else's conviction. Deterrence isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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Assume that all my posts will be edited at least once. Dyslexic -- can't spell, can't type, can't proofread.

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
I do love this determination some feel to dismiss personal experience as being worth nothing. You can dress up your comments any way you want but when you have to start arguing that *IF* you were a qualified OB/GYN then you would know more about childbirth than an "untrained" pregnant woman your condescension comes shining through.

Sorry Christie, who are you aiming this at? Me, Publius or both of us?

I certainly haven't stated that personal knowledge is worth nothing, just that it has limitations. Like I originally mentioned, I have over 31 years experience -- personal experience -- of being an asthmatic. I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert on asthma though... I'm not even particularly knowledgable about asthma. You could easily match my academic knowledge on asthma by reading the pamphlets they have in the doctor's office.

I am, however, unquestionably an expert on being an asthmatic. I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how it affects me, I can regale you with stories of what it feels like for me to suffer an asthma attack and the day to day issues I face. That is knowledge that no one other than I possess. Yet for all this expertise, I can't authoritively tell you what another asthma sufferer experiences.

Look, I've obviously stepped into the middle of a bunfight or something. I thought what I wrote wasn't incredibly obtuse... to garner this reaction leaves me wondering if my ability to express my thoughts is really that bad or if something else is going on.

I have not been really following the thread closely, I just saw that Sara had asked "Why does personal experience count for nothing with some of you?" and, since it was a question that took my fancy (because I don't always value personal experience highly), I tried to answer it and explain when I find that it counts a lot and when it counts for little. In the process I ended up tackling her second question "How do you know so much about things you never experienced?" but I think I did so poorly because I was not answering it within the frame of how it was asked.

I was answering in terms of knowledge about a subject rather than knowledge of a subject... and even now I don't think I'm being terribly clear so I'll try to explain with an example.

In terms of the pregnant woman, she is undoubtably knowledgeable on the experience of being pregnant and giving birth. There is absolutely no way that as a man that I will ever, even remotely, have that knowledge. Another woman won't have that knowledge either, unless she herself has been pregnant and given birth.

Yet I can, as a man, be as knowledgeable about pregnancy as a woman. The fertility cycle, the specifics of each stage of development, the birth process... it's a matter of academics rather than experience.

In the matter of the former, I'm with Sara... I don't see how anyone could know anything of what it is like to experience something unless they've experienced it themselves -- I could read a million books on the experience of childbirth but my knowledge would pale in comparison to a woman who has given birth to a single child. In the case of the latter, I don't think experience contributes to that type of knowledge (that is, that level of knowledge can be achieved without the experience) -- knowing about sperm, ovum, zygotes, mitotic cell division and all the rest is not dependent on having given birth.

I'm really hoping I'm making sense and not obfuscating things further.

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Ramblin' Dave, quietly making noise
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Sara Claus at home:

Despite what those of us who were there have said, you simply reject the idea that the country didn't need to be put through Nixon being charged, tried and, if convicted, sentenced to jail. That's your right, of course, but it would be nice if you could come up with some actually benefit to putting the country through that.

I think this - particularly that last line - sums up why I'm not buying this argument. I heard similar rhetoric, about "the national trauma of impeachment," all the time when Clinton was impeached. I was not quite 26 at the time, easily old enough to remember, and I don't recall the experience as being searing at all. Nakedly partisan? Definitely (and I am well aware that some Republicans feel the same way about what happened to Nixon). Abuse of power? Yep. Unpleasant to watch? Yes, until the Republicans were punished for their power grab in the 1998 elections. [Wink] But was it painful to me as an American? Did it make me cry out for some sort of closure even if it meant letting criminals off the hook? Heck, no! I'd have gladly put up with more of the bulls**t if it meant Kenneth Starr was punished for his abuses of the Constitution, actually.

And yes, I know Watergate was quite different from Zippergate. For one thing, the president was actually guilty. And yes, it went on longer. Others have mentioned other problems that existed at the time as reasons to support the pardon, or at least excuse it. I would argue the opposite: those other problems are all the more reason why sweeping Watergate under the rug was not essential. With Nixon out of office and other things to deal with, the prosecution could have gone on without distracting people unless they wanted to be distracted.

I meant no offense to anyone who disagreed with me, by the way. It's just that I don't see why it should be so painful to see an ex president go to jail if that ex president is a criminal. And for whatever it's worth, my parents were in their late 20s in 1974 and they have never come to believe the pardon was the right thing to do.

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Another lifetime I'd have fallen in love with you
Swept away by my feelings, ashamed and confused
But just now it's enough to be walking with you
Let the mystery play as it will! -Lui Collins

Posts: 2669 | From: Jouy en Josas, France | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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