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A Decent Man

The “accidental president,” Gerald Ford, died Tuesday at the age of 93. He left a few comments with Bob Woodward about the war in Iraq, along with permission to release them after his death.

    Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction. And now, I’ve never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do.
    I don’t think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly, I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer.

President Ford was responsible for giving Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney their first positions of real authority, Cheney as Chief of Staff and Rumsfeld in his first stint as Secretary of Defense. In his 2004 interview with Woodward, he remembered them fondly but said they had changed, calling Cheney in particular “much more pugnacious” as Vice President than he had been thirty years before.

I suppose we could criticize Ford for not saying publicly what he told Woodward privately, but given what we know about the Bush administration, would that have done any good? More importantly, he left us with an example of sanity and clarity in public leadership. We need a new generation of such thinking in the years to come.

Comments

Comment from hum
Time: December 29, 2006, 09:29

merci de nous rapprocher d’une vision interne des politiques americains
car de l’exterieur (surtout dans le monde arabo muslman) pour nous c’est “blanc bonnet et bonnet blanc”

paix à son ame

Comment from eatbees
Time: December 29, 2006, 12:49

Oui, et c’est vrai dans les deux sens, n’est-ce pas? :) Essaies à trouver, par exemple, un américain qui peut dire même les noms des chefs d’état arabes et les rapports entre eux….

Merci de m’encourager, j’essaie à éclairer de temps en temps notre politique interne (ici, “nous” = “nous les américains”). Par exemple, est-ce que tu sais que John Kerry n’est pas président aujourd’hui à cause d’un bâteau de haute vitesse (“Swift Boat”)? C’est vrai mon ami!

C’est toujours plus compliqué qu’on peut dire en quelques lignes. Gerald Ford par exemple, avait comme ministre à l’étranger Henry Kissinger, que pas mal entre nous accuse de crimes contre l’humanité dû à son soutien des dictatures en Argentine, Indonésie…est-ce que le bilan est avec Ford aussi…?

De toute façon merci, on aura l’occasion d’en parler beaucoup plus l’année prochaine, inch’allah, lors des enquêtes du Congress contre notre président actuel!

Comment from hum
Time: December 29, 2006, 20:06

oui j’imagine que c’est pareil de votre coté
ceci dit quand je dis “bonnet blanc blanc bonnet” on sait meme a l’exterieur que vous n’aviez jamais eu un président comme dabliou (W) ;)

en tous cas tu m’impressionnes avec ta connaissance du maroc et sa politique, tu dois savoir plus que la majortié des marocains… sur leur propre elections
en plus tes posts sont agreables à lire, meme si j’arrive pas ecrire en anglais (je l’ai etudié au maroc au lycée, mais j’ai tout perdu en arrivant en france. ici le système n’aide pas a apprendre l’anglais, ni d’autres langues d’ailleurs.)

ce qui serait bien un jour c’est avoir un browser qui vous traduit en live un site dans n’importe quel pays dans votre langue et que les commentaires aussi soit traduit
cela permettra peut etre un jour de lire des blogs japonais ou chinois ou …etc

continue à nous donner le plaisir de lire tes articles

merci

Comment from Yahia
Time: January 2, 2007, 22:16

hum > http://translate.google.com/

Eatbees > Are you sure about qualifying him as a decent man? I personally don’t think so.
He didn’t have the balls to say that in public I suppose?
Also, if he’s “responsible for giving Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney their first positions of real authority”, then he’s partly responsible for the actual mess, isn’t he.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 2, 2007, 22:57

No, Yahia, I’m not sure. See my reply to “hum” above. Ford kept Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State even though he was the architect (with Nixon) of some of the most cold-blooded foreign policy the U.S. has ever had (Cambodia, Argentina…). But I lived through the Ford era, and I respect him for trying to restore balance to the country at a difficult time. I’m not saying he was great, but at least he knew his limits. He wasn’t insane or possessed by the Devil like our current leadership.

Why didn’t he criticize the war publicly? I think he was honestly sick of politics and didn’t think anyone would listen to him, certainly not Bush.

Comment from Yahia
Time: January 3, 2007, 08:54

Yeah (:
Thanks for your answer.

Comment from LilMissIndie
Time: January 7, 2007, 17:11

“More importantly, he left us with an example of sanity and clarity in public leadership.”

I lived through the Ford era also and appreciate what he did for our country, a man who did not seek the office but served when asked. But I was disappointed in his allowing Woodward to publish his comments posthumously. We do need sanity and clarity in public leadership; Gerald Ford could have demonstrated that had he spoken out in some way while alive. If he couldn’t tolerate politics any longer, and didn’t think anyone would listen to him, why make the remarks at all or ask that they be held until his death? Instead of the moralizing finger-wagging we’ve gotten from Jimmy Carter – resulting in more polarization – I would have loved to have heard the voice of this decent man. (Perhaps he couldn’t stand to submit himself to the flaying that occurs in the media and many blogs these days.)

Btw, (I’m not usually this mistrustful but) how do we know that Ford told Woodward he could publish the remarks after his death? Tapes of the interview? Notes from Ford? I’m just curious (and hopefully not clueless because I don’t know the answer).

Thanks.

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