That afternoon, as news of his death the previous night spread, a CNBC talk show host hastily labeled the 38th president a Soviet-appeaser and near enemy of capitalism.
Larry Kudlow, the rabidly free market host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company, began his program last Wednesday with a three-minute Op-Eu (that's opinion eulogy), setting the tone for the ensuing conservative barbarism.
Shelving the decorum of respectful homage we ordinarily pay to the deceased--a formality that differentiates us from, say...wild boars--Kudlow opted to take political aim at a dignitary whose life had expired less than 24 hours earlier.
I could not obtain a transcript of his mud-slinging obit, but a nearly identical editorial is published on his blog, whose insipid title is Kudlow Money Politic$.
"Ford was one of a long line of American executives who presided over the decline of the U.S. in both national security and economic terms," Kudlow callously and negligently opines.
"In national security terms," he continues, "Mr. Ford was a détentist who accommodated the Soviet Union in a number of ways,including unverifiable arms control deals."
Kudlow cites the US rooftop "retreat" from Saigon--implicitly Ford's fault--as a low point in US foreign policy, apparently because the senseless deaths of 60,000 US soldiers weren't reason enough to leave Vietnam.
Kudlow adds that his hero Ronald Regan "put an end to [this cowardice]...in the 1980's."
Of course it is natural to revisit the political aspects of a president's life, but Kudlow obtusely politicized Ford's death before even a day of solemnity could be observed. Kudlow's intent was clear: flog Ford as a warning to any Republican politicians getting cold feet about supporting the corporate assault on our constitution and our country. Who wants to be remembered as a weakling loser?
Kudlow proves once again that conservatives have no shame in their unwavering advance of corporate extremism.
He wasn't alone.
The American Spectator weighed in with a look at Ford under the unflattering headline: "When Greatness Isn't Called For."
Paul Beston, writing for the Spectator, asserted that "[Ford] maintained touches of Eastern liberalism on social issues, had a typical politician's misunderstanding of economics, and generally adhered to the détente policies that were put in place by Nixon and pursued through Jimmy Carter's tenure."
(Hey guys, who pulled "détente/détentist" out of the French lexique for show-and-tell?)
The Washington gaggle of Republican company spokespeople even flock around the same words, let alone the same talking points.
The National Review piled it on last Friday when senior editor Jonah Goldberg literally called Ford a loser. Goldberg related an anecdote about former Republican Rep. Robert Michel who used to tell freshman representatives that they would get used to feeling like losers.
"Ford was in this mold," Goldberg writes, "and what Democrat couldn't love a Republican like that? Ford seemed to epitomize liberal fantasies of an era of Republican pushovers as he fought the Democratic effort to cut off American support for the South Vietnamese."
No one loves a sob story like a conservative. In their mythical version of history, conservatives were the once victimized subjects of a brutal socialist regime established by FDR.
To hear them tell it, you would think the Democrats used to throw Republicans to the lions. This theme of oppression and bullying pervades Goldberg's editorial. It gets better.
"The Left," Goldberg writes, "didn't understand that after Ford came the Reagans and Gingriches, not the Rockefellers and Lindsays." Ooh. That's a big tough statement from a big tough guy.
Goldberg's wild Dungeons-and-Dragons-fantasies aside, his editorial fits a dirty little pattern. Only the living can recount the legacies of the dead, and the good is oft interred with their bones.
Honorable men would praise as bipartisanship, rather than curse as vice, the character trait in Ford that enabled Congress to make progress during turbulent times. Such humility is rarely expressed either in the current executive branch or in the pig sty that Capitol Hill has become.
Honorable men would give thanks for Ford's service and be grateful simply for their sustenance under his stewardship rather than whine and complain about the fortunes they did not make.
Honorable men would respect the departed, and hold their tongues from defamation for more than one day before publicly attacking the defenseless dead.
Honorable men, like President Ford, once stood among the ranks of Republican politicians. Not any longer.