Skip to comments.View of GOP as buffoons a fabrication
Posted on 01/01/2007 2:21:15 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
In retrospect, its hard to imagine that President Gerald R. Ford ever came to be viewed as a klutz or as a man of modest intelligence.
He was neither. As reporter Bob Dart noted in Fords obituary, he was probably the most accomplished athlete ever in the White House. After being named Most Valuable Player on his 1934 University of Michigan football team, he was offered professional contracts by both the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.
His athletic prowess in football carried over to golf, skiing and swimming. JFK may have effected athleticism for the newsreels, but Ford was the genuine article.
And yet, its Ford who, in Darts words, gained a comical reputation for clumsiness while in the White House. Considerable assistance came from comedian Chevy Chase, who often portrayed Ford stumbling or falling on Saturday Night Live. Heres what Chase said last week about the routine, as reported by Reuters news service:
He had never been elected, period, so I never felt he deserved to be there to begin with. This was just the way I felt then, as a young man and as a writer and a liberal.
While Fords decision to pardon Richard Nixon for Watergate no doubt contributed significantly to his loss to Jimmy Carter, his depiction by the media and entertainment industry as a nice, well-meaning bumbler of modest intelligence conditioned the country to believe him inferior to the challenge.
But as his speechwriter, James C. Humes, wrote after his death, Fords deans list grades at the University of Michigan were enough to earn him a scholarship to Yale Law School. In his rankings there, he topped fellow classmates Cyrus Vance and Sargent Shriver.
Oft quoted was the LBJ crack that Jerry Ford is a nice fellow, but he played too much football without a helmet.
This genial dunce theme recurs in media treatment of Republican leaders, with some exceptions. Nixon was smart but evil. George H.W. Bush was genial, but intellectually inferior to Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan was dumb and George W. Bush is too, while the Democrats they defeated Carter, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry were all intellectually superior.
The basis for that misperception about most conservatives and Republicans is that by and large they come from places unfamiliar to the New York-Washington media establishment. And it is that establishment, until the rise of the blogosphere, talk radio and cable television, that owned the business of deciding whats news. They owned, too, the franchise on determining who in the political arena has substance, whos serious and whos not.
Conservatives were always disadvantaged in that milieu, and still are, because their constituents by and large were made up of what Ford affectionately called the ordinary, the straight, the square [the quality] that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation. It is, he said, a quality to be proud of a quality that many people seem to have neglected.
Thats not Washington, nor is it the pressure groups demanding more government, nor is it the political industry that defines the nations problems in ways that make them the solution. It is therefore alien to everyday experience in the centers of opinion and government so, well, Grand Rapids and comfortable and straight.
Its a mind-set like that of Chevy Chase that makes those in the know, in politics, academia, entertainment and the media, quite comfortable in dismissing Ford, Reagan or Bush as somebody who didnt deserve to be there to begin with because they were the choice of the uniformed, misguided, self-interested, complacent and those lacking in compassion and kindness in essence, the ordinary people who lived in places like Grand Rapids.
When liberal entertainers speak today of Bush, its with that same smug dismissive certainty that devalues his intelligence, his moral authority or his claim to the Oval Office.
Often with conservatives, its because the critics cant comprehend their ideas, values or agendas and therefore either assume they have none or that the ones they have lack merit. But in Fords day, a relative few news, opinion and entertainment figures in New York, Washington and Hollywood could turn an athlete into a national klutz and a Yale Law School graduate into an intellectual dullard.
That world passed, though, before the president did.
Jim Wooten is associate editorial page editor. His column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Rest in peace President Ford.
Just because you are smug doesn't mean you are among the elite thinkers.(see Mass.Senators)
President Ford was a decent man. Todays Pols can learn a bit from him.
Thanks for posting. I'm surprised that Jim Wooten is allowed his position on the AJC's editorial board with thoughts like this.
"JFK may have effected athleticism for the newsreels, but Ford was the genuine article."
Kennedy affected athleticism. Otherwise, this was a very good article.
I do have to admit though that I was never comfortable with the slogan, "Re-elect President Ford". He should have canned that and just run against Jimmah on what the people of Georgia tried to tell us about Cahtah.
Of course 16 years later no one listened to what the folks down in Arkansas tried to tell us about Bubba either.
Mostly I was interested in how the msm defines LIBERALS vs the GOP.
Sorry, wrong answer. Effected is a verb, and correct in this context. Affected is an adjective.
this is the same media that swears they have never seen bubba cheat at golf...
Wooten is a good exception on the AJC.
Perhaps the single exception.
Chevy Chase like most 'comedians' is just a clown who if faced with the decisions made by the great men they make fun of (usually to sycophantic audiences) would crap their pants and curl up into a fetal position whimpering in fear.
Hollywood idiots and others in that business deserve little respect (in the old days their profession was looked upon as being akin to prostitutes).
Sorry, I have to agree with USFRIENDINVICTORIA
The article should read "JFK may have affected (not effected) athleticism for the newsreels, but Ford was the genuine article."
(From affect entry 2:
definition 3: to make a display of liking or using : cultivate (affect a worldly manner)
or more likely,
definition 4: to put on a pretense of : feign (affect indifference, though deeply hurt)
1 affect noun
[Middle English, from Latin affectus, from afficere]
1 obsolete : feeling, affection
2 : the conscious subjective aspect of an emotion considered apart from bodily changes
usage see effect
2 affect \?-fekt, a-\ verb
[Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French affecter, from Latin affectare, frequentative of afficere to influence, from ad- + facere to do more at do]
1 archaic : to aim at
2 a archaic : to have affection for
b : to be given to : fancy (affect flashy clothes)
3 : to make a display of liking or using : cultivate (affect a worldly manner)
4 : to put on a pretense of : feign (affect indifference, though deeply hurt)
5 : to tend toward (drops of water affect roundness)
6 : frequent
obsolete : incline 2
synonymy see assume
usage see effect
3 affect transitive verb
[Middle English, from affectus, past participle of afficere]
: to produce an effect upon: as
a : to produce a material influence upon or alteration in (paralysis affected his limbs)
b : to act upon (as a person or a persons mind or feelings) so as to effect a response : influence
usage see effect
affectability \-fek-t?-bi-l?-t?\ noun
affectable \-fek-t?-b?l\ adjective
synonymy affect, influence, touch, impress, strike, sway mean to produce or have an effect upon. affect implies the action of a stimulus that can produce a response or reaction (the sight affected her to tears). influence implies a force that brings about a change (as in nature or behavior) (our beliefs are influenced by our upbringing) (a drug that influences growth rates). touch may carry a vivid suggestion of close contact and may connote stirring, arousing, or harming (plants touched by frost) (his emotions were touched by her distress). impress stresses the depth and persistence of the effect (only one of the plans impressed him). strike, similar to but weaker than impress, may convey the notion of sudden sharp perception or appreciation (struck by the solemnity of the occasion). sway implies the acting of influences that are not resisted or are irresistible, with resulting change in character or course of action (politicians who are swayed by popular opinion).
1 effect noun
[Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin effectus, from efficere to bring about, from ex- + facere to make, do more at do]
1 a : purport, intent
b : basic meaning : essence
2 : something that inevitably follows an antecedent (as a cause or agent)
3 : an outward sign : appearance
4 : accomplishment, fulfillment
5 : power to bring about a result : influence (the content itself of television is therefore less important than its effect Current Biog.)
6 plural : movable property : goods (personal effects)
7 a : a distinctive impression (the color gives the effect of being warm)
b : the creation of a desired impression (her tears were purely for effect)
7 c (1) : something designed to produce a distinctive or desired impression usually used in plural
(2) plural : special effects
8 : the quality or state of being operative : operation (the law goes into effect next week)
: in substance : virtually (the committee agreed to what was in effect a reduction in the hourly wage Current Biog. )
to the effect
: with the meaning (issued a statement to the effect that he would resign)
2 effect transitive verb
1 : to cause to come into being
2 a : to bring about often by surmounting obstacles : accomplish (effect a settlement of a dispute)
b : to put into effect (the duty of the legislature to effect the will of the citizens)
synonymy see PERFORM
usage The confusion of the verbs affect and effect is not only quite common but has a long history. Effect was used in place of 3affect as early as 1494 and in place of affect as early as 1652. If you think you want to use the verb effect but are not certain, check the definitions in this dictionary. The noun affect is sometimes mistakenly used for effect. Except when your topic is psychology, you will seldom need the noun affect.
Merriam-Webster Inc, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary., Includes Index., 10th ed. (Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1993).
Sorry, wrong answer. Affected is a verb far more than an adjective, and in this case, the proper one. Wooten is contrasting Kennedy's mugging for the cameras (may have affected athleticism) with Ford's genuine athleticism.
And I disagree. Ford WAS elected Vice President.
Ford was confirmed as VP by the Congress after Agnew's resignation. He was never elected.
That I didn't know. Thanks for that tidbit.
Yes. JFK was a fake. The media, so in love with him, protrayed Kennedy as an intellectual because of the Pulitizer Prize his father bought. His book was ghost written by Ted Sorensen.
Ford was a gifted athlete and smart as a whip. Here in Grand Rapids I've talked to old-timers who knew Jerry. They all same the same thing: he did not give public speeches very well, that was his glaring weakness; but he seemed to know everything about politics and the business of the House.
Unlike Kennedy, this was one smart guy. Difference is, the media dismissed him.
This pretty much sums up the liberal process; all 'feelings' and no time for facts.
Good post CW...Happy New Year!
How dare you correct the cognoscenti! ;-)