Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford's legacy?

I'm pretty late to the party as far as obits for Ford go. Honestly, I'm more bummed that James Brown died (now there's a cat who had an influence on our culture, inspiring folks as diverse as Miles Davis, Public Enemy, Eddie Murphy, and Andy Kaufman). About the best that might be said is that Ford arguably did less harm than his immediate predecessors and successors (as Alexander Cockburn notes). Certainly it'll be a mixed legacy. Pardoning Nixon was, in the eyes of many Americans, an unforgivable sin. So too (in the eyes of those concerned about human rights) was giving Indonesia's dictator the green light to embark on decades of genocide in East Timor. Ford also provided a training ground for various neoconmen who would later set a disastrous course for the US (e.g., Rummy & Cheney come immediately to mind) as well as a launching pad for the Bu$hCo family political dynasty's bid to claim the keys to the White House. We might also add his opposition to the Freedom of Information Act to the list of negatives. On the positive side: if nothing else, his presidency oversaw the final withdrawal from the Vietnam disaster, and he managed to keep the rabid jackals (e.g., Cheney, Rumsfeld, & Kissinger) with whom he kept company on a shorter leash than they would have preferred.

Like Nezua, my memories of Ford are minimal, as I was a kid at the time. My fifth grade class had a mock election in the fall of 1976 between Ford & Carter (the latter of whom would win in real life, and act as a precursor to the neolib DLC crowd that turned the Democrats into GOP lite). About all I could see in Ford was an association with Nixon whom my parents had grown to loathe and this rather bland somewhat bumbling persona.

What the guy would have done with a full term in office is hard to say. Maybe the rabid jackals would have been unleashed, maybe not. Maybe we would have been spared the eventual two and a half decades of Raygun and his aftermath. We'll never know. That Ford may have been the least bad of the bunch in my four decades of existence I suppose is saying something, though hardly the stuff of fond reminiscence.

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