The Pardon That Brought No Peace

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Future Furor. Of course, nothing will be easy now, and the furor promises to be intense. TerHorst's swift resignation was a symptom of what may lie ahead. Said terHorst: "I couldn't in good conscience support the President's decision, even though I knew he took the action in good conscience." Republicans, who had delightedly looked forward to the deflation of Watergate as a major issue in November, now dejectedly faced the prospect of defending to the voters Ford's grant of pardon.

The issue is not whether Nixon has suffered enough. Indisputably, he has suffered, but so have countless other people who have committed wrongdoings —and they have not been exempted from prosecution. Nixon will be free and well pensioned, while those who took his orders are jailed and broken.

The real question is whether justice —and the country—have been served by giving Nixon a pardon. The American people deserve to know the entire story of Watergate. They do not know it yet, and the person who is in the best position to tell them—because he has the fullest knowledge of it—is Richard Nixon. If he had been brought to court, Nixon would have been under intense political pressure to divulge the full truth under oath. His degree of guilt or innocence would have been established by the law, and any claims that he had been hounded from office would have been laid to rest. Richard Nixon may well testify at the future trials of other, less privileged Watergate principals, and at that time he could still reveal the details of the unending Watergate story. The Sabbath pardon eased the plight of the man who received it, but gravely complicated the future of the man who granted it, Gerald R. Ford.

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