I confess I never really thought much of Gerald Ford. I knew that Chevy Chase didn't resemble him much, but I probably saw more of Chevy Chase spoofing Ford than Ford himself. I knew that Ford pardoned Nixon, and I kind of understood why. I knew that Ford did not distinguish himself much in office, and yet he trounced -- trounced -- Ronald Reagan in the GOP primary in 1976.
The world didn't blow up. The economy didn't collapse, though inflation hit us hard. And in an age when politics was much more moderate in tone and liberal in values, he was known as a bipartisan leader of sorts. I never would have voted for him, had I been old enough, but as I look back at what the GOP has had to offer the White House since, he seems to be not all that bad in retrospect.
So it really is quite shocking to me, the reactions offering everything from naive praise to vehement hatred expressed towards Gerald Ford, the man who's merited scarcely a mention in blogs ... that is until he died.
Gerald Ford's greatest faults lied [sic] in his weakness on matters of foreign policy. That was most glaringly evidenced in his debate with Carter when he insisted that the Soviet Bloc didn't really exist. And then, as now, deeply immoral and incompetent men stepped into the breach to set our policies.
Then again, anyone who's been paying attention would know that Ford was Speaker of the House a Congressman for many years [with his greatest ambition to be Speaker] during some rather dark days of the Cold War. Of course he knew -- as anyone who had to go through duck-and-cover drills knew -- Eastern Europe was under Soviet domination! In several interviews since the election debates, Ford has offered explanations about how he misspoke. If you've seen the tape of that debate, one thing is clear: Gerald Ford was nervous on camera and was not at all anything like a great communicator.
bernadene at The Agonist blames Ford and his pardon of Nixon for the mendacious opportunists running the White House today:
And that folks is why we have what we have today: a bunch of true, dyed in the wool criminals running Washington and the White House: no redress, acting with impunity, and no fear of reprisal.
That's a stretch. Ford wasn't of the neocon ilk. In fact, as Liza points out:
Nixon, probably unintentionally, began the decline of the Eisenhower Republican. Some of those he brought into government are the very same "barking crazy rightwingers" who have systematically been destroying our nation under Bush. That, combined with Nixon's spectacular and televised downfall, discredited the reasonable, moderate Republican. The Democrats, then more liberal than now, were ready to take advantage of Nixon's downfall, and the far right wing Republicans, then marginalized but poised to strike, were ready to begin their plans to take over the nation through lying, stealing and cheating.
One man had a small chance of saving the Eisenhower Republican: President Gerald Ford.
Gerald Ford, the last of the Eisenhower Republicans who had any chance of saving the Republican Party from the barking crazy rightwingers, has died.
Gerald Ford had been a well-respected Congressman, someone who could work with both parties to get things done. As criminal charges consumed Nixon and his administration, Gerald Ford was the last chance Republicans had of restoring respectability. Centrist, traditionalist and all around nice guy, Ford might have been the only person who could have saved the Republican Party from being taken over by extremists or lapsing into obscurity.
And only recently he stated his unbridled opposition to Bush's war on Iraq.
In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., 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.
"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
Of course, there will always be the left's version of depraved freepers ... and the wingnutty chest-thumping of claimed superiority over liberals who (they claim) "symbalize [sic] the very definition of white trash." It truly is interesting to me, seeing the right-wing bloggers praising a man that would be considered too liberal to get nominated dog catcher today. Funny how party lines distort perspectives.