Saturday, July 09, 2011


We just lost Betty Ford, at the age of 93. Try to imagine a Republican like this now:

...Few first ladies have been as popular as Betty Ford, and it was her frankness and lack of pretense that made her so. She spoke often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorsed legalized abortion, discussed premarital sex and revealed that she intended to share a bed with her husband in the White House.

... unlike many other wives of presidents, Mrs. Ford rarely hesitated to make public her views on touchy subjects. She held a White House news conference announcing her support of the Equal Rights Amendment; the mail response ran three to one against her. In 1975, appearing on "60 Minutes," she said she "wouldn'’t be surprised" if her daughter, Susan, had a premarital affair; the mail was four to one against her. Her husband jokingly told her later that the comment had cost him 20 million votes in the 1976 election, she said....

Fortunately for her, she did all this before Murdoch, Limbaugh, Drudge, and Breitbart largely took over the dissemination of political conventional wisdom in America. Gerald Ford faced a strong challenge for the 1976 Republican presidential from Ronald Reagan, and Reagan nearly beat him. Can you imagine the level of character assassination Betty Ford might have faced with Murdoch et al. running rampant? It's hard to believe that her subsequent substance-abuse revelations would have emerged on her own terms -- I think she would have been brutalized by agenda-driven extremists.

She had a fascinating life. And she got it in just under the wire.

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