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Gerald Goddamned Ford

He Was a Terrible President But He Sure Did Live a Long, Long Time

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Official White House Portrait By Everett Kinstler
Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006

Not long after he became president, Gerald Goddamned Ford took a vacation to Vail, Colorado, for some skiing. According to the book Presidential Anecdotes, while the Ford family ate dinner, one of their dogs took a shit in the lodge. An attendant ran over with a rag to clean up the dog shit. Ford intercepted the attendant, took the rag from him, and reportedly said, "No man should have to clean up after another man's dog." Then Ford cleaned up his own dog's shit from the floor.

It's no Gettysburg Address, of course, and it's ironic, too, considering that Ford spent his whole White House career trying to clean up other people's shit, but it's typical Ford: At first, it makes you think he's a great guy, but then you realize he's just a schlub, running to and fro with a shit-stained rag, unaware or, worse, uncaring of his place in history.

Gerald Ford died on Tuesday, December 26, 2006. He was 93 years old. Gerald Goddamned Ford was a virtual treasure trove of oddball presidential trivia: the only president who never won an election for president or vice president; the only president who survived two assassination attempts made by women (Squeaky Fromme, a Charles Manson acolyte, and Sara Jane Moore, obsessed with Patty Hearst); the only president who was often referred to by the media as a "Boy Scout" and "Mr. Nice Guy."

Born Leslie Lynch King Jr. on July 14, 1913, Gerald Goddamned Ford renamed himself after his stepfather and quickly proved to be the kind of man who rises to the top through no fault of his own. He had his talents—he was a star football player at University of Michigan and fought with the navy in World War II—but even he probably couldn't believe his luck when he was elected to Congress and stayed there for nearly a quarter century, somehow getting elected minority leader on his nice-guy merits. President Lyndon Johnson was befuddled by Ford's rise to power, famously saying that Gerald Goddamned Ford "is so dumb he can't walk and fart at the same time." His congressional career is most notable for his time served on the now infamous Warren Commission.

When Richard Nixon's vice president Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace, Ford was nominated precisely because he seemed innocuous. Compared to the dark and brooding Nixon, Ford seemed like a golden boy.

The first month of Gerald Goddamned Ford's presidency, as detailed in Barry Werth's recent book 31 Days, turned out to be one of the biggest disasters in American history. Ford failed the one mission that mattered: not pardoning Richard Nixon. The only thing he had to do to come out of the presidency with a legacy was not pardon Richard Nixon. It took Ford a month to fuck that up, and he dared to announce, "Our long national nightmare is over."

That's bullshit, and we'll get to precisely why in a moment. First, it has to be said that the stench of Gerald Goddamned Ford, the presidential shitrag, lingers in the White House to this day. Though he opted to not nominate the odious George H. W. Bush as his vice president, choosing instead Nelson Rockefeller, Ford hired men whose names we're still living with today: Dick Cheney replaced Donald Rumsfeld as chief of staff after Ford named Rumsfeld secretary of defense

In the week since Ford's death, a 2004 interview with Bob Woodward was released—so like a company man he saved his controversial opinions until he couldn't be held responsible for them—in which Gerald Goddamned Ford said negative things about the current administration's war in Iraq. He even acknowledged the monster he'd created, referring to Cheney as more "pugnacious" than the man he'd hired.

Today, the newspapers swoon over how Gerald Goddamned Ford saved America from the "long national nightmare" of Watergate, many of them using Ted Goddamned Kennedy's regrettable 2001 quote: "Time has a way of clarifying past events," Teddy said, "and now we see that President Ford was right."

This, of course, is bullshit. What Gerald Ford saved us from was a nation where Richard Nixon went to jail, a nation where politicians would have to face legal consequences for their actions, a nation where politicians are responsible to people who voted for them. What Gerald Goddamned Ford, who the country never voted for, gave to America, is the wave of cynicism that has dominated politics and ensured wave after wave of ever-worsening Republican presidents, preying on our basest fears.

Our long national nightmare didn't end with Ford. It began with him.

 

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1
I wholeheartedly agree! Please God let Obama not make the same mistake with the Bush wrecking crew. The only way to keep those motherfuckers out of government forever is to drive a stake through their cold, black hearts. Or send them to jail. Whatever.

P.S. - Paul Constant, I think you're great.
Posted by Jason E on December 3, 2008 at 10:42 AM · Report this
2
Nice article. I will only add Gil Scott Heron's assessment of Ford: "Oatmeal Man".
Posted by Scott Dow on January 3, 2009 at 9:18 AM · Report this
3
You are crazy. President Ford was an amzing man whose actions go unacknowledged. Your just too immature to realize that foregiveness is what America needs. Throwing someone in jail... what the hack would that do? Now, when someone who has the power to do something mean like that doesn't do it, that shows goodness of heart. Im sorry you have to swear in order to prove your point. May God bless you.
Posted by Christistheway21 on November 1, 2009 at 11:53 AM · Report this
4

Would any of the former Nixon/Ford cronies have had the temerity to try their patent brand of tyranny if they hadn't got away scot-free the first time?

Constant has it right.

If the US cannot stomach the indictment of Bush administration felons, I hope the World community will. Threats of arrest abroad have dogged Rumsfeld. I hope something similar will happen for the rest of the crew.
Posted by Rawkcuf on December 13, 2009 at 6:13 PM · Report this
5
OK, so this is years old. Whatever. Here's the legacy that matters, the one that lasted in the most meaningful way to the year 2010:

Justice John Paul Stevens. I doubt we'll ever again see a Republican nominate his like.
Posted by dontknowwhyiputupwithyall on September 14, 2010 at 7:18 PM · Report this
6
@3, Forgiveness is great, I agree. However when people see that there's no repercussions for acting badly they will continue to. If your child steals money from your wallet you ground them or spank them or whatever your personal brand of child punishment is because you want them to know there are negative repercussions for doing bad things. If you do nothing they will just continue to steal from you and grow up thinking it's ok to steal. Same with politicians.

Throwing Nixon in jail isn't about us feeling better because the big bad Nixon monster is safely locked up, it's about showing other politicians that there are repercussions for the bad things they do. With Ford's pardon of Nixon politicians learned that they can do anything, even break into the opposing party's meeting rooms and tap their phones. Ford had the opportunity to show that even presidents aren't above the law. He failed miserably at that and that fed the culture of corruption in the government.
Posted by Root on September 16, 2010 at 6:10 AM · Report this
7
Is it time to start preparing a case against Bush and Co.?

Its too late for Nixon, but perhaps nows the time....

I was truly disappointed when Obama said that we must look forward not backward. There needs to be a legal retort to, "When the president does it, its not illegal."
Posted by Rawkcuf on November 15, 2010 at 10:53 AM · Report this
8
Really stupid. The worst kind of faux-journalism, tendentious history and spleen, with profanity added to "keep it real."

Whatever his faults, Ford was able to get and keep a job. What's your story?
Posted by Bmused on December 9, 2010 at 6:13 AM · Report this
9

What a hollow, paper, sole – frothing bile because of a few kind words about Gerald Ford.

But at least you did a good job of disproving the Russian military’s Golden BB theory – it is possible to throw a ton of shit into the air and still not hit something. A truly amazing feat - failing to connect with a single historical insight into “what started it” - given your choice of an era so thick with harbingers of our current morass.

But hey, any serious historical commentator could miss Jimmy Carter. Besides, Jimmy just gave us one Iran, and now we’re looking at ten.
Posted by boondoxinvegas on April 19, 2011 at 5:44 PM · Report this
10
The kid of journalism is not proper
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new cars
Posted by antoine243 on May 11, 2011 at 7:36 AM · Report this
deadlyfingers 11
I opened this article because the link on The Stranger site said, "Our National Nightmare Started, Not Ended, With Gerald Ford" [preposition as capitalized by Stranger editorial staff].

I saw that disconnected "Not" floating awkwardly in the middle of the sentence and assumed that this had to be another hilarious "New Column" by The Incredible Hulk... Sadly, I was mistaken: it's just another well-written article by Constant. (sigh)
Posted by deadlyfingers on August 16, 2011 at 8:52 PM · Report this

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