Gerald Ford walks - and his Chief-of-Staff Dick Cheney chews the gum...
Gerald Ford was, by most accounts, essentially a decent man. Propelled by circumstances way beyond his ambition - and to be candid - his finite abilities.
It is fitting that he and his family should be treated with respect in his passing.
However, over the next few days we will experience the usual media overkill. And worse than that - the sickening hypocrisy of fulsome eulogies from brutish Republicans seeking to soften their harsh images by bathing themselves in the sepia tone and muted, baroque musical flourishes on every cable news program covering the extended funeral tour.
So here are 10 points to help survive the treacle-y gush we will have to endure.
(Of course anchors of political talk shows who wish to appear as something a little more than enablers for discredited Republicans - might also care to browse these notes and use them to temper the self-serving dissembling of their guests.)
1) Gerald Ford became Vice-President because the elected Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew - a REPUBLICAN - was revealed to be an unmitigated criminal. A man who had received inappropriate financial benefits from his political position. A heinous, hateful figure who mocked decent patriotic Americans for their opposition to an illegal war. (Hmmm.... that sounds vaguely familiar.)
2) Gerald Ford then became President because the elected President Richard M. Nixon - a REPUBLICAN - was revealed to be an unmitigated criminal. A man who trashed the American constitution and treated the citizenry with utter contempt. A heinous, hateful figure who mocked decent patriotic Americans for their opposition to an illegal war. (Hmmm.... that also sounds vaguely familiar.)
3) Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon (without securing a written confession) was a dreadful and egregious mistake. The intention may have been to heal the nation - and granting the pardon was his way of doing so. But without making it conditional on securing a confession - he allowed Nixon and his apologists to spend the last 32 years rewriting history. Promoting the lie that it was all just a political coup by those pesky liberals...
(Just as I finished writing the above paragraph, Pat Buchanan appeared on my TV screen whoring that same hoary old fairy-tale about how his traitor boss (Nixon) was hounded from office by sore-loser Democrats bitter at the 49-state landslide of 1972. It is THAT pernicious Big Lie - endlessly repeated - that Ford's unconditional pardon permitted. An unequivocal confession by Nixon - with no ifs and buts - might have nailed this entire business forever. And likely inhibited the Reagan-Bush excesses of Iran-Contra and the foul deeds of the present Bush-Cheney regime.)
4) The Republicans who now defend Ford's decision to pardon Nixon - all bleat the party line that Nixon had suffered enough and that endless trials and legal proceedings would continue to divide the country. The pardon was a way for the nation to "move on". A trial would be a needless distraction and would perpetuate the divide in the nation.
Yet those are the exact same Republicans who refused to allow Bill Clinton to "move on" with a censure. Bill Clinton - whose only "crime" had been getting caught in a technical fib about a personal indiscretion and who apologized repeatedly for it - was hounded and persecuted by these self-same Republicans who wanted their 200 pounds of flesh in a legal trial in the Senate. But the pardon for Nixon - who never even conceded guilt - let alone apologized - was and is considered to have been a healing gesture.
Nixon who repeatedly did to the entire nation what Bill Clinton didn't even do once to one woman...
5) Gerald Ford was considered such a decent man that the saintly Ronald Reagan and his conservative acolytes fought a vigorous battle in 1976 to unseat him and deprive him of the Republican Party nomination. (Where was that 11th Commandment then?)
6) Gerald Ford held political positions of decency and moderation that would have him hounded from the present-day Republican Party, If Gerald Ford was running for the Republican Party Presidential nomination in 2008 on the political philosophy and positions he believed in - he wouldn't stand a chance. The Republicans eulogizing him this week detest his every position and revile his beliefs.
7) Even decent men begat indecent seedlings. And two of the most prominent individuals who used Ford's presidency to advance themselves politically turned out to be the exact opposite of their boss and benefactor. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Two opportunists who will wrap themselves in Ford's reputation for decency in the next few days - hoping it will cleanse their severely tarnished images - but who are not worthy to even pronounce his name.
8) Gerald Ford disagreed with the Republican attempts to impeach and remove Bill Clinton from office - and had the courage to publicly oppose the Senate trial. Calling instead for a bipartisan resolution of censure by the Senate. Not that the Republicans who are eulogizing him this week paid any attention to his pleas. They treated him and his entreaties with contempt.
9) Gerald Ford conducted the very opposite of an Imperial Presidency. Unlike Richard Nixon (1969-1974) and unlike George W. Bush (2001-200?) he didn't become seduced by the arrogance of power. While they eulogize him in public - as a public relations exercise - behind closed doors, the supporters of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have utter contempt for Gerald Ford. They regard him as a weak, vacillating President who was not a true conservative believer.
10) Gerald Ford saw the writing on the wall with Vietnam. He eventually took the decision to concede defeat and bring American troops home. The retarded, Rambo-brained neo-cons who promulgated the Iraq war always look back on the defeat of Vietnam as a grave political mistake. A lack of will. And for that those neo-cons still blame Ford.
So - when you hear Republicans eulogize Gerald Ford this week - just remember the above 10 points.. A little food for thought... A little gum for chewing...