The Backlash to President Ford Criticizing Bush in Death

Joe at AMERICAblog offers a quote and commentary regarding President Gerald Ford’s criticism of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld’s Iraq policy as confessed to Bob Woodward this past summer:

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“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,” Ford said. “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.”

This morning, Bush said Ford was a “man of complete integrity.” Cheney said Ford was the embodiment of “decency, integrity, and devotion to duty.” Certainly a man with those characteristics couldn’t be wrong when he said the Bush and Cheney were mistaken about the war with Iraq. The White House staff has probably already started the attack on Ford’s character now that they know he spoke so candidly about Bush’s biggest failure.
It will be interesting to see how the White House attacks a dead man lying in state. Here’s an early take from gambling “ethicist” William Bennett:

“…just how decent, how courageous, is what Jerry Ford did with Bob Woodward? He slams Bush & Cheney to Woodward in 2004, but asks Woodward not to print the interview until he’s dead. If he felt so strongly about his words having a derogatory affect, how about telling Woodward not to run the interview until after Bush & Cheney are out of office? The effect of what Ford did is to protect himself, ensuring he can’t be asked by others about his critiques, ensuring that there can be no dialogue. The way Ford does it with Woodward, he doesn’t have to defend himself…he simply drops it into Bob Woodward’s tape recorder and let’s the bomb go off when fully out of range, himself. This is not courage, this is not decent.”

For those of you keeping score at home, it’s NOT okay to speak the truth before dying, but it’s okay to attack the dead for speaking the truth. That is some seriously twisted logic, but I suppose that’s what you have to do if you’re trying to defend the president, Rumsfeld, and Cheney on this one. Attack the delivery rather than the content of the message.

Strangely, Bennett’s argument is worth debating once his asinine pussification of a respected ex-president is dismissed. Would President Ford’s speaking out against the war and the trumped up justification for invading Iraq have changed history? Of course, we’ll never know, but the timing of the release now seems important as Bush attempts to escalate the number of troops in harm’s way.

Based on how the administration has treated others who were once trusted advisers who later spoke out against Bush’s policies (Richard Clarke, David Kuo, Anthony Zinni, to name just three), it’s pretty clear why Ford would avoid the unavoidable backlash from the White House. Would you want a nasty battle with the White House to consume the last two years of your life?

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