Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jerry Ford's Legacy

So, we all know by now that former president Gerald Ford disapproved of W's Iraq War policy. According to Bob Woodward, in an interview that Ford gave in 2004, but directed not to be releases until after his death,
"Ford 'very strongly' disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and, said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief."

The ever-classy Bill (The Gambler) Bennett breaks the rule about not speaking ill of the dead--at least until they are underground--by suggesting that the interview blots Mr. Ford's reputation for decency. "If he felt so strongly about his words having a derogatory affect, how about telling Woodward not to run the interview until after Bush & Cheney are out of office?" Bennett asks. See, now some of us might have thought that embargoing the interview showed less courage than we might have liked from Mr. Ford--seeing as how people are dying in Iraq every day--but ol' Bill gets right to the important point: don't embarrass the sitting President.

Ford's criticism of his former aides, Rumsfeld and Cheney, is especially telling. Clearly, that gruesome twosome learned nothing from the former president's modesty, civility, humility and decency. One wonders if they mocked him for these qualities behind his back when they worked at the White House. Barry Werth, writing in the NYT today, says that once Ford named Cheney as his chief of staff, "Cheney instituted a more centralized, secretive, Nixonian approach to presidential power, as he and Mr. Rumsfeld moved to replace President Ford’s restraint and realism with a swaggering, messianic view of American might." So, for those looking for the roots of this administration's whack-job approach to government, you can pinpoint the Ford White House as one of its sources.

(I wonder whether Rumsfeld and Cheney developed their disdain for law and their paranoid obsession with secrecy and centralized power in reaction to their experiences as young Republicans in Washington, at a time when the GOP was plummeting into an abyss of disgrace and criminaal prosecution as a result of Watergate and its progeny. And the ironic result is that, again, the Party of Nixon is diving toward oblivion.)

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