Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ford Tarnished by Woodward

Today’s Washington Post has an article from Bob Woodward with excerpts from two interviews he did with the late President Ford. The interviews were from 2004 and 2005 and contain quotes from President Ford that are critical of the Bush Administration and the current Presidents policies. Mr. Woodward said these interviews were done with and embargo that they could not be reported until after the President passed away. Since President Ford passed away on Tuesday, Mr. Woodward feels this is the perfect time to release the controversial statements.

Since we cannot ask President about these quotes, or about the embargo itself, we must take them at face value and assume Mr. Woodward has put them in the appropriate context. According to the article, President Ford disagreed with going to war in Iraq, and felt the United States was wrong to try and spread democracy anywhere in the world. President Ford said he would have pushed other alternatives and sanctions harder and avoided the war. President Ford is quoted as saying, “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.” He is quoted elsewhere as saying, “And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security.”

If President Ford truly felt this way, he did a disservice to himself by not revealing these statements during his lifetime. By waiting till after his death to allow these statements to be published, the quotes look like a cowardly act. As President, Ford had to make some tough decisions. By hiding these statements, his legacy has been tainted. I have written articles critical of President Carter for his statements as an ex-President. At least Carter was willing to face the criticism his comments might generate.

Mr. Woodward has diminished his own reputation due to the timing of his article. President Ford passed away on Tuesday evening. Less than 48 hours later, Mr. Woodward has tried to introduce fresh controversy in President Ford’s legacy for what appears a thinly veiled attempt to generate interest in a future book on President Ford by Mr. Woodward. Perhaps if Mr. Woodward truly felt these statements deserved print as quickly as possible, he should have talked the President into allowing him to publish them during his lifetime. If they could wait until after his death, surely they could have also waited until after his funeral.

Both President Ford and Mr. Woodward have acted with incredible poor taste at a minimum. President Ford’s comments can easily be viewed as petty and somewhat cowardly. Mr. Woodward’s article looks even worse because of the timing.

1 comment:

Sideon said...

Agreed. It is very sad that Ford did not lend his voice and thoughts on Iraq.

Woodward's timing was horrible.