Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Way Forward

Back in 1982, my husband and I were among the music dealers invited by the Kimball Piano Company for a trip to Hawaii. The special guest was to be former President Gerald R. Ford. And as part of his appearance, we were allowed to submit questions. However, there was one question Kimball didn't want us to ask and that was, "Why did you decide to pardon former President Dick Nixon?"

My husband refused to be discouraged from asking this all-important question. So David wrote it over and over on the index cards we were given. I did, too. Sure enough, the folks at Kimball weren't diligent enough in their vetting process, and in the midst of the other innocuous queries, Ford pulled out a card and read, "Why did I pardon President Richard M. Nixon?"

He rubbed his chin and paused. I held my breath. I figured David and I were going to be dog-paddling our way home from the Big Island. Instead, President Ford said very gently, "You know, the job of a president is more than a 24-hour-a-day/seven-day-a-week job. It's enormous. And to tell you the truth, there was so much to do, so much healing to be done, that...I just couldn't see spending the time on Nixon. We needed to move forward."

(Okay, that's a paraphrase, but you get the point.)

Fast forward to this week, the week of the inauguration of President Barak Obama.

I think back to Gerald R. Ford--and the decision he made not to spend time on problems with the previous administration. The decision he made to give a nation in crisis his full attention. I hope Obama will do the same. The focus needs to be on fixing our problems instead of fixing blame.


Betty Hechtman said...

NIce story. I think everybody is ready to look ahead and not dwell on who is to blame.

Anonymous said...

That's all well and good, but not prosecuting or investigating illegal activities of an elected official is not sound policy. It's not about blame it's about accountability. The lies that sent our troops to Iraq cost more than 4,000 US soldiers lives so far. My friend who died is worthy of the truth; he is owed that much for paying the ultimate price.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Dear Anonymous,

First of all, please accept my sympathies over the loss of your friend. And you are right, he is owed the truth. As are we all.

However, I've been hearing that instead of having the Obama administration conduct or instigate hearings, that there are other ways to investigate, such as having an international inquiry. That would remove national politics from the equation, and it would then hold our officials to the same standards as the rest of the world--which also reminds the world that we Americans are not above international conventions. That way the Obama administration could move ahead as justice is done. There's also been talk of civil lawsuits which would be another way of keeping the new administration out of the fray while getting at the truth.

Camille Minichino said...

I have to agree with the anonymous poster, that too often, in the name of playing nice, or moving forward, injustices are allowed to accumulate.

I'm sure that's not what you meant, Joanna, and putting other ideas forward might help.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Maybe I can clarify...I think there's so much to do, that Obama needs to concentrate all HIS energy on getting us out of this mess. That doesn't mean that others shouldn't pick up the ball and make folks accountable.