FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Farewell to Our Greatest President

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

We bid a sad adieu to Gerald Ford. Here at CounterPunch it has always been our position that Gerald Ford was America’s greatest President. Transferring the Hippocratic injunction from the medical to the political realm, he did the least possible harm. Under Ford’s tranquil hand the nation relaxed after the hectic fevers of the Nixon years.

As a visit to the Ford presidential library discloses, the largest military adventure available for display was the foolish U.S. response to the capture of the U.S. container ship Mayaguez by the Khmer Rouge on May 12, 1975. As imperial adventures go, and next to the vast graveyards across the planet left by Ford’s predecessors and successors, it was small potatoes.

Ford was surrounded by bellicose advisors such as his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger; his vice president, Nelson Rockefeller; his chief of staff, and later secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld and his presidential assistant, Dick Cheney. The fact that this rabid crew were only able to persuade Ford to give the green light for Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor–an appalling decision to be sure — is tribute to Ford’s pacific instincts and deft personnel management. Unlike George W. Bush, Ford was of humane temper and could mostly hold in check his bloodthirsty counselors.

Kissinger was part of the furniture when Ford took over, after Nixon’s resignation on August 8, 1974. With latitude to chose, Ford made sensible selections, none more fruitful than his Attorney General, Edward Levy, who in turn prompted Ford to nominate John Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has long distinguished himself and dignified Ford’s choice by being the most humane and progressive justice.

As a percentage of the federal budget, social spending crested in the Ford years. Never should it be forgotten that Jimmy Carter campaigned against Ford as the prophet of neo-liberalism, precursor of the Democratic Leadership Council, touting “zero-based budgeting”.

If Ford had beaten back Carter’s challenge in 1976, the neo-con crusades of the mid to late Seventies would have been blunted by the mere fact of a Republican occupying the White House. Reagan, most likely, would have returned to his slumbers in California after his abortive challenge to Ford for the nomination in Kansas in 1976.

Instead of an weak southern Democratic conservative in agreement to almost every predation by the military industrial complex, we would have had a Midwestern Republican, thus a politician far less vulnerable to the promoters of the New Cold War.

Would Ford have rushed to fund the Contras and order their training by Argentinian torturers? Would he have sent the CIA on its mostly costly covert mission, the $3.5 billion intervention in Afghanistan? The nation would have been spared the disastrous counsels of Zbigniev Brzezinski.

Those who may challenge this assessment of Ford’s imperial instincts should listen to the commentators on CNN, belaboring the scarce cold commander-in-chief for timidity and lack of zeal in prosecuting the Cold War. By his enemies shall we know him.

During Ford’s all-too-brief tenure a mood of geniality was the rule. Even the attempted assassinations of the president by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Moore, in September, 1975, had a slapdash, light-hearted timbre. The arts flourished, as is attested by Vicki Carr’s frequent appearance in the photographic record of White House galas.

At the side of America’s greatest president was America’s most sympathetic First Lady, Betty, whose enduring memorial is the Betty Ford Clinic, home port for beleagured boozers. We send our sympathies to the former First Lady.

 

 

 

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail