Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Seat Warmer

Gerald Ford, by all accounts, was a personable enough guy. But it's always weird, these pro forma media rituals that automatically issue forth when a famous figurehead dies. And Ford, if nothing else, was perhaps the ultimate figurehead of modern American history, a placeholder who really didn't want the job.

What really rings strange is the squinting effort by the media monkeys to present Ford's pardoning of Nixon as some sort of heroic effort to "heal" the nation, to "bring us together". Well, I suppose a trial might have done the same thing. At the very least, it would have clearly defined those who felt that presidents should uphold the law, and those who feel that the office confers autocratic powers. Nixon henchmen Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld certainly were part of that latter category, and clearly never strayed from their roots.

What the Nixon pardon "brought together" was the clear vision of how the U.S. government views its supposed bosses, the citizens. The cliché is that they regard us as children, and certainly they do. But the practical structure is more like what the management-labor relationship might be at a large manufacturing corporation -- at least, back when we actually used to manufacture things, as opposed to bamboozling each other into spending money we don't really have on shit we don't really want.

So there was no "healing" at all, really, just one guy who had no further ambitions or agenda telling us that this was how it was going to be, and if you had a problem with that, tough shit. But at least we were all on the same page at that point, so in that sense, hey, instant unification. American citizens were all simultaneously notified that we were on a need-to-know basis, and that accountability was only for the little people. There's something to be said for that sort of clarity, provided people understand the ramifications.

(I was only seven years old when Nixon resigned, but I did understand that his name was reviled in my family, and generally prefaced with some colorful variant of "that asshole". But what's so bizarre is that Nixon would have to run as a centrist Democrat these days. That's a sorry testament as to how much the Christofascist/CPAC fruit-loops have not only taken over the Republican Party, but radically shifted the political center. Which has worked out superbly.)

One other thing that will certainly never be mentioned in the spate of masturbatory encomia is Ford's pivotal role in enabling the scumbag thug Suharto to butcher a quarter-million East Timorese. Ford and Kissinger's wink-is-as-good-as-a-nod handling of Indonesia's brutal ambitions was a true low point in Cold War realpolitik, and it's amazing that so much blood could go by and somehow not quite land on the hands of those who allowed it to happen.

But because the media are every bit as calcified as the government talking heads they fawn over, it happens with a lot more regularity than we -- or they -- would ever feel comfortable admitting.

1 comment:

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