The Corner

Impromptus

Pardons, Rivers, Etc.

President Gerald R. Ford in the White House on May 13, 1975 (Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library / David Hume Kennerly / White House Photograph / Reuters)

Do you live “in a bubble”? Ever been accused of it? This is the theme with which I open my Impromptus column today. I go on to discuss Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Johnson (father of the British prime minister), Charles Barkley (of course), the late Richard Thornburgh, and more.

Here on the Corner, let’s have some mail.

In recent days, President Trump has pardoned Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, Duncan Hunter, et al. Lou Cannon, the veteran political journalist and Reagan biographer, writes me the following:

It drove President Ford slightly crazy when people asked him why he didn’t condition his pardon of Nixon on Nixon’s admission of wrongdoing. (That would have given Nixon control over the pardon, in Ford’s view.) When Ford was asked about this in later years, he would whip out a copy of a Supreme Court decision (c. 1915) that said that acceptance of a pardon was an admission of guilt.

The Arizona GOP — a vigorous outfit, if nothing else — has urged President Trump to “cross the Rubicon.” I commented on this in a column last week. A friend writes,

Remember touring Italy in 1985, crossing the actual Rubicon, and thinking, “In America, this creek wouldn’t even have a name.”

Yes. Rivers shrivel, I understand. I think of the Jordan. “Roll, Jordan, roll”? Not much . . .

In response to my review of David French’s book, Divided We Fall, a reader (a college student) writes,

I just have an observation: We, as a people, have been prefacing things with “this time of extreme national division” year after year. The saying has certainly been accurate. And the times are not improving — in fact, things are deteriorating (the bonds of society, that is). How many Divided We Fall-esque books must we read before we get the picture?

Federalism. Pluralism. Compromise. I have to wipe the dust from my keyboard after typing those words. But they are important. Without them, we have too many hands reaching for too few levers of immense power. It’s all fun-and-games until the surplus hands start reaching for the throats of those holding the levers . . .

Finally, a note about listening habits. I had a post on Pat Metheny, the jazz guitarist and composer. A reader writes,

A friend and I love Metheny’s live album The Road to You. We have a code that certain records can only be played at certain times of year, and The Road to You stays in my Christmas stack.

Well, hope it was an enjoyable Christmas, for that and other reasons! Again, for today’s Impromptus — a mélange, as usual — go here.

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