Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford's Legacy

One bad thing about getting the newspaper delivered (at least in my case): it's most likely to not catch the latest, overnight developments. So I heard of former President Ford's death when my CSPN-tuned radio alarm went off this morning. But neither my NYT or Wash Post editions covered it.


Democracy Now! provided some of what I'm sure will be the unreported context of Ford's brief tenure, including-- should be noted that the massacres in East Timor started while Ford was president and the US did and said nothing.

Well, it's worse than that - we armed their killers: Indonesia.

I guess Ford was worried that the East Timorese - like other Portugese colonies (Angola, Mozambique) headed for independence in 1975 would go communist.

(h/t MyDD commenter chaswinters)

The Democracy Now! transcript isn't up yet, but it also includes a discussion by author Robert Parry on how Ford's pardon of Nixon, and elevation of aides Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney inspired a "counter-insurgency" in defense of the imperial presidency, the realization of which we have come to know and loath these last six years.

It's too bad. Ford's one of those Republicans I always wanted to like. I don't remember Watergate (I was eight) or his pardoning of Nixon, but I have vague memories of the 1976 election. Even at that age, I was the lone Democrat in my elementary church school class mock Ford/Carter election. In later years Ford went on to co-author a number of op-eds with former President Carter, the latter of whom grew to regard the former warmly, despite their past competitive history.

And like Carter, Ford will probably be remembered more for his post-presidential life than for his actual White House stay, surviving as he did to live three decades after his presidency ended.

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