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Jerry Ford Joins That Peaceful End Zone In The Sky

"Sickle-cell Armenia" was almost Monty Pythonish, but I have to wonder why "work ethnic" never caught on as a sober sociological term. (The Jamaican paterfamilias with six jobs; the Korean bodega owner who never closes shop, etc.) Gerald Ford was … Read More

By / December 27, 2006

"Sickle-cell Armenia" was almost Monty Pythonish, but I have to wonder why "work ethnic" never caught on as a sober sociological term. (The Jamaican paterfamilias with six jobs; the Korean bodega owner who never closes shop, etc.)

Gerald Ford was certainly a top sprinter for dimmest chief executive ever in a race that would probably require a photo-finish to determine. This was the man who famously said "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe" and "Poland is not dominated by the Soviet Union," when only months before he'd made the United States signatory to the Helsinki Accords, the civil rights portion of which was designed to combat Soviet hegemony in the Warsaw Pact nations (including Poland). This was the man who thought individual accountability a paramount virtue but then pardoned a disgraced and criminal ex-president, rationalizing the act as the beginning of a collective "healing process." This was the man who repeatedly fell into history like a stagehand leaning against the scenery once an act. This was the man who, heeding the advice of his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, disinvited Alexander Solzhenitsyn as a guest to the White House out of fear of offending Leonid Brezhnev. (In the Ford administration, the two outspoken objectors to this cynical and cowardly rescission of state welcome were Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney). This was the man who thought Ronald Reagan was unelectable in 1980. This was the man who considered the offer of a second vice presidency in that same year, unless it amounted to an offer of a co-presidency, an insult to his stature and experience when he'd not been elected to either office before. This was a man who thought golf was a stimulating pastime. This was a man who thought Anwar Sadat was a back injury incurred from too strenuous a performance of said pastime. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

You can barely read this overlong and repetitive Times obituary without pitying the poor sod who had to cobble it together. There should be a Pultizer for obit writers taxed with sounding mournful when sounding truthful would be fall-down silly.

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