As the nation eulogizes President Gerald R. Ford, who died last night in California, no one should lose sight of the fact that it was Ford who helped launch the careers of the two ugliest faces in the George W. Bush administration. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Cheney and Rumsfeld were deep-selected from lower-level positions in the Nixon administration and named as Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff for Ford's White House. After Rumsfeld was selected as Ford's Secretary of Defense, Cheney succeeded his longtime mentor as Chief of Staff.
Rumsfeld and Cheney made it their cause to "restore" the power of Nixon's "imperial presidency" to a future Republican president. That was all but impossible under Reagan and Bush I since the entire Congress was in the hands of the Democrats for all but six years. However, Cheney and Rumsfeld succeeded in their goal under George W. Bush.
In addition to the "gruesome twosome" of Rumsfeld and Cheney, Ford also propelled George H. W. Bush into the world of future chicanery when he named the former Texas congressman, UN ambassador, envoy to Beijing, and Republican National Committee chair as CIA Director. Bush, who only served as director for one year managed to involve the agency in a number of terrorist attacks, a direct slap at those who were trying to curb the excesses of the CIA under the Nixon administration, including outgoing director William Colby.
Bush approved CIA assistance in the illegal car bombing assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, on a Washington, DC street in the heart of Embassy Row. Under Ford, Bush also approved the bombing of a Cubana Airlines passenger plane off the coast of Barbados that killed over 70 men, women, and children.
Much is being made of Ford's statement in the wake of Nixon's resignation that "our long national nightmare is over." Mr. Ford's elevation of Bush, Sr., Rumsfeld, and Cheney did not end our national nightmare, it merely postponed it until January 20, 2001.