Posting on The Corner, Bill Bennett is steamed that Gerald Ford gave an interview with Bob Woodward in which the former president said that he disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq -- and didn't want the interview published until after he was dead. Bennett asks, "just how decent, how courageous, is what Jerry Ford did with Bob Woodward?" The man behind The Book of Virtuesconcludes that it would have been more ethical for Ford to have criticized Bush and Cheney to their faces, refrained from any criticism until after Bush was out of office, or stayed silent.
Now, I happen to think that the Iraq debate has been impoverished by the fact that so few people who actually want to see the Bush administration succeed have been willing to make these kinds of arguments publicly. But even leaving that aside, it doesn't appear to me that Ford was trying to slag President Bush from the grave. Instead, it seems that Ford gave a wide-ranging interview and that the Washington Post has decided to emphasize his Iraq comments in their posthumous coverage.
Ford presided over the end of the Vietnam War. It is of at least minor historical interest what he thought about Iraq, just as it is interesting to hear his comments about Henry Kissinger. Ford may well have thought he would live to the end of Bush's presidency. He never sought to undermine his successor publicly and, in fact, issued a statement in support of Donald Rumsfeld earlier this year. I could be wrong, but I don't think Ford's intention was to be able to criticize Bush without having to answer for his criticisms.
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