Gerald Ford

[Update: I’ve been invited to participate in a group discussion about Gerald Ford on today’s “World Have Your Say” BBC radio program. The program begins at 1:00 pm EST, but the Ford segment probably won’t begin until about 1:45 EST and should last only about 15 minutes.

Update update: Well, I only got to say about three words. Such is show biz.]

The official maha Gerald Ford obituary is posted at Crooks and Liars. What I didn’t write at Crooks and Liars was the first question that popped into my head after I learned Mr. Ford had died: Will Ford get as good a funeral as Reagan?

It’s true that Ford was never hero-worshipped as Reagan was, but in my mind that makes him the better man.

For better or worse — well, OK, worse — you could argue that Ford played as big a role in shaping the current Republican Party as Reagan. One, Ford pardoned Nixon, thus avoiding further investigations into Watergate. Two, Gerald Ford appointed George H.W. Bush to be Director of the FBI CIA, Donald Rumsfeld to be Secretary of Defense, and Dick Cheney as his Chief of Staff.

I’m actually sad for him that he lived long enough to see how those last two appointees turned out. My impression of Ford was that he was a decent guy who was doing the best he could. Although there are plenty of knowledgeable folks who disagree with me on that point.

Other points I left out of the obit: I didn’t mention that as a senator congressman, Ford had led the attempt to impeach William O. Douglas. Also, I had no sooner posted the C&L obit than commenters brought up the bleeping Warren Report. Siteowner (I assume that was John Amato) deleted these comments. But how big a conspiracy nerd does one have to be to still give a bleep about the bleeping Warren Report? Puh-leeze.

As I suggested in the obit, this might be a good time to re-evaluate the long-term effects of the Nixon pardon, since the pardoning of a former president and vice president may become issues for the next president. Comment away.

Update: This also might be a good time to reflect on how extreme the Republican Party has become. Ford’s Wikipedia biography says, “Ford described his philosophy as ‘a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy.'” Pretty much the opposite of The Creature in the Oval Office now. See Taegan Goddard for more.

20 thoughts on “Gerald Ford

  1. First off, dear Maha…Gerald Ford was never a Senator…He was a Congressman from Michigan…

    And the Warren Commission was a very big deal…

    Very big…

  2. Gerald Ford appointed Bush to be director of the CIA, not FBI. After a year, he appointed him to be ambassador to China.

  3. Though I’m willing to give Ford the benefit of the doubt that it was made for best of reasons, The Pardon is unpardonable.

    The great lesson of Watergate was that the Rule of Law is greater than the political power of men or parties. Ford’s decision to short circuit this lesson resulted in the fact that ultimately, politics went on as usual. Money rules, dirty tricks are allowed, winning is everything and there is little consequence for misdeeds. If you liked Iran-Contra, Lee Atwater, Willie Horton, McCain/Bush in SC, Karl Rove, Mellon-Scaife, the Arkansas Project, Florida in 2000 and Swiftboating, well then you probably liked The Pardon. It was our best opportunity squandered to reform the political process. I cannot forgive Gerald Ford for this.

  4. How is it that a member of the House MINORITY party could succeed in bringing forth impeachment hearings of a supreme court justice with little or no cause, another congress can impeach a president for lying about sex, yet we do nothing about an administration that lied us into an unnecessary war costing tens (hundreds?) of thousands of lives and billions of dollars…

  5. 1975 NYC fiscal crisis headline:


    I am happy to report that Ford is dead and NYC is very much alive & kicking. Last laughs.

  6. Ford is remembered, in my mind, as the first President who stood for the idea that an ordinary person, one without any extraordinary skills, could be President. He was remarkably plain and unexceptional. Just a nice guy in over his head. He begat Ronald Reagan, that truly stupid man who never gave up on an idea once it got through his incredibly thick skull. And they, together, begat George W…. and we all know where that has gotten us.

  7. I remember Ford for his insipid WIN (Whip Inflation Now) program, and for making Chevy Chase famous.

    The pardon, while revolting, was inevitable.

  8. Ford didn’t “beget” Ronald Reagan. They were bitter rivals. Indeed, for the eight years of Reagan’s presidency, Ford was invited to no White House social occasions whatsoever.

    There’s plenty to criticize about Ford, but Reagan wasn’t his fault. Juan Cole has an excellent post getting into the details of this.

  9. When I heard that Ford was a Yale graduate, I started wondering if there is a pattern of media harrassment of presidents according to whether the president was a Yale graduate or not. I would be interested in seeing an analysis of the MSM coverage of a Yale graduated president vs a non-Yale graduated president; that is, is it nastier, uglier, more concerted, etc., or, if its just a cabal of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. At any rate, based on what I’ve see of Yale graduates lately, I’d like to kick all Yale graduates out of government and certainly not elect another one to the presidency.

  10. I really disliked Ford at the time. His pardon on Nixon seemed like an obvious quid pro quo.

    With the recent reminders of congressional bi-partisan comittees, I could be convinced to adopt a more generous assessment. I.e. that there do exist “true believers” in bi-partisan consensus. The fact remains, however, that bi-partisan consensus whitewashing of the truth is a fundamentally elitest and undemocratic endeavor. It’s purpose is to prevent the public from getting the truth because “The people is a great beast” and unvarnished facts are too dangerous to be let loose.

  11. My recollection of the time was that Ford was certainly better than Nixon and LBJ not as good as JFK and sort of on a par with Ike. I hated Nixon and LBJ for the idiocy of Vietnam and all the lies both told about that fiasco. Nixon was forced to resign because of two things–the lies/coverup about Watergate and the fact that the Democrats controlled Congress. I certainly cared a lot more about the lies about Vietnam than I did about the coverup of Watergate although the coverup reflected Nixon’s general tendencies of deceit and manipulation which his crooked cronies carried out in all aspects of his administration. As a result the pardon, while unwelcome, did not really affect my vote. Rather it was the sense that Carter would be better for the economy and working people than Ford who was a fiscal conservative in the Hoover sense in the face of a really pretty wretched economy. Unfortunately, Carter proved no more able at dealing with the economic mess started by LBJ’s “guns and butter” and continued by Nixon’s efforts at price controls in the face of the first OPEC boycott and turned out to generally be a good man and a near awful president. In my opinion it was Carter’s inepitude which lead to the election of a second rate actor who managed to first stop inflation by throwing millions of Americans out of work and then got the economy going–eventually- by racking up the biggest deficits in history before Dumbya. I suppose that if Ford had been elected instead of Carter that a Democrat could have won in 1980 and we would not have had Reagan.

  12. I never paid much attention to politics until 1991.I was having breakfast at the Waffle house (my daughter calls it the “awful house”.)just outside St Augustine Fl, and it was announced over the radio that Bill Clinton won the election . My wife and I were pleased that he defeated George H. Bush, but one of the local “good old boys” yelled out “there goes the country”.Go figure.
    I always felt that a working man voting Republican is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders.

    After reading the preceeding comments, it strikes me as very curious that we have had so many corrupt and inept presidents over the past 50 years, some just less corrupt or inept than others.
    There is a message here (too bad it’s in code.).

    Ford SEEMS like a decent guy, but then there are the photos of Ford’s staff including several of the same flying monkeys that have caused us so much grief in the current regime.
    ‘Tis a real kick in the head!
    Any way, president Ford made it past 90, a very good run.
    We should all be so lucky.

  13. I think Ford did what he thought right at the time. He didn’t know what some of these creatures that started out then with him would become. In fact he didn’t know what the republican party would turn into over time. I just saw Ron Nessen on PBS saying old Nixon business( messes) were taking up 25% of his and his staff’s time and they probably thought it would be the best way to move past all of that.How could they know that some would take pardon (as the Iran contra crowd definitely did,) as a free pass to go at it again in the future.

  14. I told my daughter that the flags were at half-mast for Gerald Ford, but that as far as _I_ am concerned, they were really at half-mast for James Brown.

  15. Any way, president Ford made it past 90, a very good run.
    We should all be so lucky.

    Thats my sentiment also… and at least 30 of those 90 were spent on the gravey train. Life couldn’t have been too hard seeing that we have been and will be to be picking up the tab.

  16. Yale bashing, that’s a hoot! I’m assuming you are including the media’s complicity in villianizing Bill and Hillary Clinton, both J.D. from Old Eli?

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