Wednesday, January 03, 2007

President Gerald Ford is still dead

Happy New Year, everybody! The late former president has been dead since Christmas, and, as I write this, he is still not in the ground! Hey, I’m all for honor and reflection, and it’s not that every dog doesn’t deserve to have its day—but eight days? Talk about your long national nightmares!

Perhaps worst of all about this nationwide, weeklong second line is that gives the Ford apologists and historical revisionists more time in the media spotlight to disseminate their own particular brand of self-serving horseshit.

In a way, it’s hard to blame all the old friends and former cabinet members from the Ford years for talking the way that they do—after all, they have their own egos and legacies to think of—but it is easy to blame the establishment media for once again being lazy—in this case, by letting access and proximity stand in for perspective.

It is not really a surprise that former Ford advisors are going to speak well of the acts and policies that they themselves helped shape? Should that be the end of the discussion, though?

If I have to hear one more F.O.G. tell me that “the nation needed healing,” and that Ford’s pardon of Nixon healed it. . . or that Ford made the tough choices regardless of the effects they would have on his personal fortunes. . . or any of these pat encomia designed with the intention of not only polishing the Ford legacy but justifying the memes du jour re: President Bush and the newly Democratic Congress. . . well, I was going say something about future exclamations, but I am already screaming.

Let’s get this straight. Gerald Ford might have been a nice guy (I have no way of knowing this personally), and he might have had friends on both sides of the aisle (and that might seem extraordinary by today’s standards), but Ford was a partisan Republican, and just about everything Ford did was consistent with that fact. In his 14 months as president, Ford used his veto 34 times, mostly to reject non-military domestic spending on social programs sent up by a heavily Democratic Congress. And the pardon of Richard Nixon shut down investigations into not only White House sponsored dirty campaign tricks, but also unlawful domestic spying and the failed and often illegal prosecution of the Vietnam War. It saved Ford and the Republicans from having to defend their former President’s policies and practices, and allowed for the likes of Kissinger and Rumsfeld to maintain through to the present that we could have somehow won the Vietnam war, if only the liberals hadn’t gotten in the way.

And those are the same men that have used and now use the same disastrous rationale to promulgate and perpetuate the Iraq debacle.

That is Gerald Ford’s legacy.

And, while we’re at it—comparing the Ford legacy with the present situation—if the pardon of Richard Nixon was a good thing for national reconciliation, what was the hanging of Saddam Hussein? That was a question asked Tuesday morning by WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, and while, obviously, Nixon deserved to be hanged no more than Hussein deserved to be pardoned, it does make one wonder how President George W. Bush and Veep Dick Cheney—and Senator Joe Lieberman, for that matter—can talk about how “there can be no healing without pardon,” (as Cheney said) on the one hand, and then describe the Wild West-style revenge hanging of Saddam as the “triumph of justice over evil” (Lieberman there). And that’s not even to begin to contrast the George W. Bush endorsed, putatively marginally fair hearing that Hussein received for some of his crimes with the complete lack of due process that the current US president insists is necessary to fight his war on terror. Is there one detainee at Guantanamo that has killed and harmed more people or done more horrible things than Saddam Hussein did?

That question will be only part of George W. Bush’s legacy.


Post a Comment

<< Home