Friday, November 23, 2007

Write it When I'm Gone. by Tom DeFrank

After listening to DeFrank on Meet the Press, I went out and read the book. Several thoughts:

1) It is a badly written, badly organized "journalistic" book.

2) Jerry Ford comes off in the book as an even bigger blockhead, than I first realized. It seems that Ford was bitter and resentful for the rest of his life because Reagan ran a primary challenge against him in 1976 and didn't campaign hard enough for Ford or go to Texas and Mississippi in October 1976. He bad mouths Reagan saying he "was not a technically competent President" and a "shallow Showman"; was upset at Reagan getting $2 million for speaking fees in Japan, and was jealous that the Press gave him so much credit for ending the Cold War. Even more amazing, he wanted to run in 1980 and was sure he would win and was not sure Reagan could. Finally, he turned down Reagan's offer of the V-P slot in 1980 and when Reagan offered again in Detroit, Ford deliberately made demands so impossible that it scuttled any V-P deal and led to Bush's selection.

3) Ford tried to get Bush to dump Quayle in 1992, because he was too conservative and a drag on the ticket. Suggested alternatives were Cheney or Kemp.

4) Cheny was " too conservative" as V-P.

5) He didn't offer Reagan the V-P. He didn't like him or want him on the ticket. And his advisers warned him against selecting Rockefeller (Rocky was a "weak 5th" on the list of possible nominees) but Ford made him V-P anyway, because he "needed a moderate as V-P".

6) He believed his "indefatigable" campaigning for Reagan in 1980 won him several states.

7) He supported McCain in 2000 and Dole in 1996. He strongly wanted Powell to run in 1996 and thought a Dole-Powell ticket would win easily.

8) He strongly supported NAFTA and congratulated himself on "single-handedly convincing" Clinton to support it.

9) His deepest regret as POTUS was dumping Rocky in 1975 because of the "hard right wingers" However, he and Rocky both knew it had to be done to win the nomination. Nixon and he never met privately after Ford Left the Presidency.

10) Ford disliked Carter, and even on the way to Sadat's funeral (1981) called him a "Chickenshit". He also called him the weakest President in his lifetime. However, when Carter came to speak to raise Funds for the Ford Library the two men had a warmer relationship. By 1997 Ford told DeFrank that Rosalind and Betty were very close and that the two men were friends.

11) Ford requested Clinton not be allowed to speak at his funeral. Bush-I had a secure phone line installed to talk to Ford on a regular basis.

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