Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gerald Ford: did he exist?

I grant that the headline is a little exaggerated. Yet I am surely not the only observer to find that the public commemoration of Gerald Ford's demise is excessive. Ford was never elected to any office higher than Congressional Representative. As president he fulfilled a Zelig role, being a kind of silly putty that the nation could mold into any shape it wished. Reputedly damaged in the head in a football injury, Ford's intellectual abilities were exiguous at best. Lyndon Johnson got it right when he said that "Jerry can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

For thirty years after he left office, Ford simply vegetated in Palm Springs. A fitting end, I suppose, for one who was essentially a cipher.

Now, after his death, we learn that Ford was opposed to the Iraq war, but declined to have this view revealed (by Bob Woodward) until after his death. To my mind the enablers of the war--those who knew better--are almost worse than the Machiavellian schemers who engineered the conflict.

The real reason for this lavish public display about Ford, I believe, is that it provides an implicit criticism of another Republican, the one currently in residence in the White House. If only Bush could bring sweetness and light, the way Ford did! Alas, matters are a lot more complicated than that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's always been a certain ambiguity with Gerald Ford.

Probably the "least" known is that the district he represented in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is "home" to all the Dutch Calvinist immigrants, who literally and figuratively own that town. It is "home" to the Christian Reformed (Dutch Reformed) Church, Calvin College, Zondervan, Eerdmans, and a host of other die-hard Calvinist entrenchments. Having visited relatives in this "cleanest" of clean cities (hey, to the Dutch, cleanliness is godliness), I could never understand how one "outside" the clan got elected (you'll notice the representatives before and after Ford all have Dutch surnames). Most reprehensible, Ford was not a Calvinist (frankly, I never thought he was "anything"). So I asked my extended-Dutch-Calvinist relatives how they came to elect one "outside" of the Dutch Reformed family. I never got an answer. But their expressions betrayed their own discomfort at having been asked. Odd that this "foreigner" was elected by an overwhelming Dutch constituency.

It's also odd that this man is the first and only unelected president. It's also odd that "his team" is today's GWB team, too. Yes, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush 41 -- all Jerry's buddies, and all GWB's "team" too. Even odder in hindsight is that Ford chose Rockerfeller to be his co-unelected V.P., until his party loyalists told him he could never be "elected" with Nelson on the ticket, so he dumped Nelson and picked, yes of all incompetents, Robert Dole.

That whole decade leading up to Carter's election (barely) was odd in many, many ways. Nixon did not need to burglarize the Democrats, he had the election sown. He opened China, did not end Vietnam, proposed a universal income, used price controls, and a host of other "oddities," and then became a paranoid schizophrenic to repudiate the voter's largest landslide in history for what? Watergate? It sure was not a "threat" by McGovern. And so before the whole deck of cards come crushing down, but after Spiro Agnew had to be replaced, we get a "president" that is from a Dutch enclave, but is not Dutch, and was not much of anything, whose only "noble" deed was to save the country from years of prosecuting Nixon? For gawd's sake, he didn't know Poland was a part of the Warsaw Pact, he was never elected nationally, and he acted "right" once (for which he was unjustly criticized), but look at the toxic fellows he brought into government (Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, et alia). And YOU wonder why he never criticized Iraq?

I WONDER how any of this happened in Amerika. Every aspect of it is ODD, starting with my Dutch kinfolk electing a non-Dutchman, all through everything that followed, NOT one aspect of which made any sense then or now, EXCEPT that Ford's "folk" now run our government. To make all this more preposterous, Ford is hailed as the "moderate" who always compromised, except for his principles (by today's "press" mind you). Ford was NOT anything. He SAID nothing of significance, and some things he said were ABSURD. But if people believe Reagan left a "legacy," look at Ford's, and ask the obvious question, HOW? WHAT? Reagan I might understand, twice elected by resounding numbers, but FORD? Never elected, but his stooges now operate our secretive government and the Republican party don't they?

It's all so ODD, it makes us normal folk feel like absolutely paranoid schizophrenics. When my Dutch relatives won't address it, then something has to be "up," even if none of us can fathom what is at the bottom of it all. This Nothing from Grand Rapids, who was just a passing shadow in a bizarre theater of the absurd, has a longer-lasting shadow than Ronald Reagan, that NOW runs our government bizarrely (and secretively), and NO ONE thinks all this is very ODD?

What "moderate?" One has to express something intelligible before one can assign any label like "moderate," and Ford NEVER expressed anything. The Pardon was "obvious," what wasn't and still isn't is EVERYTHING else, including his stooges who NOW run our government. This whole THING has been odd from Grand Rapids to Palm Springs, to the Betty Ford Clinic, to Steven Ford, to all these Ford proteges who DO run our government, who began under the first and only unelected president, and NO ONE questions these odd dynamics? Odder still, is the silence my Dutch relatives greet my queries. I'm actually hoping they saw it as a part of Jehovah's predestination of the divinely elected, because then that MIGHT make some obscure sense, but not without some kind of divine intervention would these Calvinists elect a dude who was not a part of their inheritance, and that was clear in the 1960s. In this Decade, it's truly bizarre.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

As Maureen Dowd has aptly noted, there is a significant link between the Ford and Bush 43 administrations, for it was Gerald Ford who advanced Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney to positions of power. As far as I know, he has shown no remorse for creating these two hyenas.

There is a further charge that will be unfamiliar to most of us. The case is set forth by Joseph Nevins in a recent column:

"Ford, too, was responsible for mass murder – in East Timor – and basic justice and honesty demands that he be remembered for it.

"On Dec. 6, 1975, Ford and Henry Kissinger, his secretary of state, were in Jakarta, Indonesia to meet the country's dictator, General Suharto. Ford was fully cognizant of Indonesia's plans to launch an imminent invasion of the former Portuguese Timor. According to declassified documents published by the Washington-based National Security Archive, Ford assured Suharto that with regard to East Timor, "[We] will not press you on the issue. We understand . . . the intentions you have."

"Suharto needed Washington's green light due to a 1958 agreement that prohibited Indonesia from using U.S.-origin weaponry, which made up 90% of Jakarta's arsenal, except for "legitimate national self-defense." For this reason Kissinger suggested that the invasion be framed as self-defense, thus circumventing any legal obstacles.

"Kissinger then expressed understanding for Indonesia's "need to move quickly" and advised "that it would be better if it were done after we [he and Ford] returned [to the United States]." About 14 hours after their departure, Indonesian forces invaded neighboring East Timor.

"While Indonesian forces massacred civilians during the first hours of the Dec. 7 invasion, Ford spoke at the University of Hawaii. There, he declared his commitment to a "Pacific doctrine of peace with all and hostility toward none," and spoke of an Asia "where people are free from the threat of foreign aggression."

"Ford and his White House successors helped make sure that his lofty vision was not realized in Indonesia-ravaged East Timor. According to the now-independent country's truth commission report, released late last year, Indonesia's war and illegal occupation resulted in many tens of thousands of East Timorese deaths, widespread rape and sexual enslavement of women and girls, and, in the waning days of Jakarta's presence, systematic destruction of the territory's buildings and infrastructure. Today, East Timor is one of the world's poorest countries.

"Over the almost 24 years of Indonesian rule, Democratic and Republican administrations alike provided invaluable diplomatic cover and billions of dollars' worth of weapons, military equipment and training, and economic aid to Jakarta. For such reasons the truth commission report characterizes U.S. assistance as "fundamental" to the invasion and occupation, and calls upon Washington to apologize and pay reparations to East Timor.

"Washington's considerable share of the blame for East Timor's plight does not rest solely at Ford's feet. But it was Gerald Ford that opened the door to this dreadful chapter in history."

8:44 AM  
Blogger jack patzer said...

Aren't we all being a little naive in assuming that Gerald Ford is really dead? How do we really know for sure? For more info, visit

11:36 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...


I am reminded of Dorothy Parker's pertinent question on hearing of the death of President Coolidge: "How could they tell?"

6:59 AM  

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