Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Betty's Husband Is Dead

Gerald R. Ford, the Accidental President -- and whose wife Betty was the best thing about him (here's a nice Betty anecdote) -- passed away. Rest in peace, Jerry, and you'd better hope that Hunter Thompson's prediction for your afterlife doesn't come true. By today's coarsened standards, he's almost a Socialist, but back in the day he was one of the most conservative members of Congress, the go-to guy for the "Single Bullet Theory" (to the point where he changed key portions of the report to fit the theory) and Nixon's most trusted consigliere on Capitol Hill. His vendetta against Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas would not be surpassed for wingnuttery and silliness until the GOP's get-Clinton insanity of the 1990s. Ironically enough, when Douglas retired in 1975, John Paul Stevens -- the man Ford selected to replace him -- wound up being the chief defender of Douglas' legacy and of America's freedoms. It's rather telling that Jerry Ford, partisan though he was, still cared enough about the nation as a whole (or else he may have remembered the black eye Nixon got from Carswell) that while he appointed a Republican to the Court, he tried to make sure that the Republican was actually fully deserving, from a legal and ethical standpoint, of sitting on the Court. Contrast that with George W. Bush, who would appoint his horse to the Supreme Court if he thought he could get away with it (and actually tried, in a sense, to do just that).

A minor point of correction. It was not Hunter Thompson who predicted that Gerry Ford would go to Hell. At least according to Thompson, it was Ford himself.

As for me, I never thought things would get so bad tbat there would be nostalgia for Ford. I never disliked him, thought he was a typical logrolling politician of his day, willing to do whatever The Party ordered him to, but whose leadership was limited to issuing Whip Inflation Now pins.
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