Sic transit

It is amazing to contemplate the contrast of the lying in state of the late President, the Honorable Gerald Ford with the demise of the late … Saddam Hussein.

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  1. Jacob says:

    If I have to read another commentator going on about how President Ford’s choices for his funeral are subdued, but how the office of the President demands pomp and circumstance…

    If the funeral of John Paul II taught us anything, it is that less truly can be more in terms of majesty.

  2. Peter says:

    Very true Jacob. It is often said that one’s funeral should reflect how one lives. But if nothing else, the subtlety of JPII’s funeral in contrast to the public perception of a globe-trotting life revealed the kind of life he lead away from the crowds, that which was, I’d say, the inner John Paul II. I think a funeral should reflect the true person, not the one the public read about.

    That said, how exactly would one conduct a funeral for someone like Saddam? That is a question I hadn’t even thought about until just now.

  3. Mark in Spokane says:

    A couple of observations:

    1) Pres. Ford’s funeral’s planned dignified simplicity contrasts beautifully with most official memorials not only in its understated manner, but in its personal nature. This is not planned to be a public fairwell to a “great man,” but rather a public farewell to a dedicated public servant, a citizen-leader, a man who had office thrust upon him. Perfect.

    2) The contrast between Ford — a politican who was man of basic decency — and Saddam is a good one to draw right now. Ford had a reverent respect for the rule of law, the Constitution of our country, and of the necessary civility that undergirds a democratic republic. His actions as president — his pardoning of Nixon, his appointments, his relationship to the Congress — were all geared to reinforce a sense of lawful continuity within the Republic at a time when the country was coming close to unraveling over Vietnam and Watergate. While there is much to disagree with when it came to some of Ford’s decisions (personally, I think his appointment of John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court was a disaster), his intentions in his public life were always for the common good of the nation. He also had a fundamental decency about him — an ability to disagree without being disagreeable, a capacity to see in his political opponents a common love of the nation, a great love for his family. All of these traits combined to make that “accidental president” one of the great leaders of our country. In a very real way, Pres. Ford deserves to rank with the great leaders of our nation — not quite in the Washington/Lincoln league, but centainly above men like Webster, Clay, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, and even my personal favorite among our former leaders, Ronald Reagan.

  4. RBrown says:

    In a very real way, Pres. Ford deserves to rank with the great leaders of our nation—not quite in the Washington/Lincoln league, but centainly above men like Webster, Clay, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, and even my personal favorite among our former leaders, Ronald Reagan.

    I think TR was the best President of the 20th century. Not only were there were extraordinary achievements during his Presidency, but he was also a man of considerable personal accomplishment. He wrote a multi-volume history of the West, and was also was well known as a naturalist.

    He is also, I think, the only one ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumously).

    Gerald Ford was MOR, a man who settled things down and got inflation under control.

  5. Mark in Spokane says:

    Yes, TR was a great president and a man of substantial accomplishments both in war and in peace. But did he undertake significant action to save the Republic? There are only a handful of presidents who have stood up during times of crisis for our nation and kept the Union from fragmenting or morphing into something unrecognizeable as a constitutional Republic. Washington was one such man, providing a model for all other presidents in our history to follow. Lincoln was such a man, preserving the Union and guaranteeing the surviving of the idea of a democratic republic. Arguably, both FDR and Reagan also served similar roles, helping to guide the Union through economic crisis at home and foreign challeges posed by totalitarian ideologies. Ford also served in such a role, helping to reinforce constitutional government in the wake of Watergrate, which itself was simply the culmination of executive abuses that reached back into the Kennedy administration (it was Kennedy, for example, who installed the White House taping system). Ford definitely belongs among the handful of our presidents who have not simply served our country but preserved it in times of crisis.

    TR, for all his character, for all his endeavors, for all of his vision, simply did not live during a time of severe crisis for the country. He met challenges, of course, as all of our leaders do — but the very continuance of the country’s constitutional order was not one the line during his administration. It was during the administrations of Washington and Lincoln. And it was during Ford’s administration. And Ford, for all of his many faults and political weaknesses, rose to the challenge of re-asserting the primacy of our constitutional order in guaranteeing that our nation would be a nation, as he put it, “of laws and not of men.” For all his errors and mistakes, for all his flubbed appointments and gaffes during debates, for every stumble he ever took down the stairs, he still stands as a great president because when push came to shove, he got the most important thing right — he exercised his office with a fervent devotion to the Constitution of the United States and the principles (if not, unfortunately, the practice) of limited government and liberty under the law. And he did so at a time when those principles and our constitutional order were under assault, were endangered, and were hanging by a thread.

  6. Tim Hallett says:

    This is yet another reason why the neocons are just wild about Teddy.

    September 1, 2006

  7. RBrown says:

    Ford did a good job in certain ways. He settled things down and got inflation under control. On the other hand, the economy was in serious recession during his WH years.

    Presidents come and go; none are indispensible (though some might think they are). Some die in office, some serve out their terms, some are defeated in the election to return to the WH, and one resigned. Not only is political power spread out in American government, but the system is built to let succession happen with a new Congress or a new President.

    Further, with a two party system the opposition is always trying to remove the majority party from power. Mostly, it is done with elections, but in this case it was done differently. Had the Dems not controlled Congress, there would have been no resignation. Likewise, Clinton’s impeachment wouldn’t have happened had the Repubs not controlled Congress.

    And so I think the “crisis” was largely the consequence of adrenalin addicted TV news media with an itchy trigger finger on the CRISIS graphic.

    [i]Le roi e mort. Vive le roi.[/i]

  8. RBrown says:

    [b]This is yet another reason why the neocons are just wild about Teddy.

    September 1, 2006

    It seems to me that the Presidency attracts prima donnas, and TR, like Churchill, was a 33rd degree pd.

    But unlike neo-cons TR never got his country into a mess like Iraq. Further, he put the US at the center of its own foreign policy–there is no reason to think that he would have ransomed our Middle Eastern policy for the security of Israel.

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