I can’t say that I’m a fan of either Gerald Ford or James Brown, but in the end I don’t think either gentleman got the credit they deserve for their contributions in life.

Gerald Ford will go down in history as the man who pardoned Nixon, but oddly enough I remember him most for his quirky sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself every time he tripped.

James Brown, the godfather of soul, but also a troubled man too involved with drugs, and too little control over his anger.

They both gave it their best shot, and did more than most, and I can’t think of a better epitaph than that.

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17 Responses to Passing

  1. fp says:

    Having lived through Ford’s earlier mockery of due process when, as a member of the Warren Commission, he successfully argued for the fantastic trajectory of the magic bullet and then was instrumental in bringing the proceedings to a close, I was not surprised when he pardoned Richard Nixon and subverted due process a decade or so later. The fact that Rumsfeld and Cheney both were in his service (studying at the feet of the stumblebum, as it were) tells a lot about why we are in such a mess internationally today.

    Ford’s permission in 1975 to Suharto to use American weapons to invade East Timor, and the hundreds of thousands of deaths this caused is another reason I’m not willing to say that the boy from Michigan simply gave it his best shot.

    Ford’s and Kissinger’s sympathy and support for Pinochet… well, that’s just another brick in the wall these people built between the imperialist interest and the welfare of the people.

    No, Ford was complicit and he was part of an early iteration of the big lie we live with… he famously uttered HIS truth that his ascendancy to power was proof that the US constitution worked. A different view might be that when Ford was appointed Vice President upon Agnew’s resignation we were in muddy water already constitutionally. If Nixon had departed simultaneously with Agnew, or prior to him, then the Speaker of the House, a Democrat, would have taken the Presidential power and responsibility. But, the orchestration of events permitted the ruling party to hold onto the power in a move just as slick as the 2000 Florida vote count.

    Just my opinion. But there’s a lot more data supporting Ford’s role as a repressive oligarch instead of his well spun image as a goofy well intentioned guy who bumbled his way into the White House and gave it his best shot.

    Sorry for my lack of courtesy and grace. I didn’t mourn Nixon’s passing, and I didn’t mourn Reagan’s. I guess I hold a grudge.

  2. Shelley says:

    No need to demonstrate courtesy or grace, each of us responds as they see fit. I realize that many of my learned readers will think poorly of my bland writing.

  3. Pingback: Listics - Frank Paynter’s Voice and Vision… » What’s going on?

  4. Joel says:

    James Brown’s failings always received front page coverage. In death, let’s give his greatness the acknowledgement it deserves:

    James Brown, 1933-2006: Harry Allen on How JB Revolutionized Popular Music, Provided the Soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement and Created the Blueprint for Hip-Hop

    And I’m completely down with fp on this: I’d never insult James Brown by comparing him to Gerald Ford.

  5. Shelley says:

    Why not? Both proved that when you’re rich and famous, you’re above the law.

    I don’t deny Brown’s legacy and his contributions to music. But I can’t easily dismiss the fact that he was arrested five times for domestic violence. Nor can I ignore his abuse of drugs and the violent acts he committed while under their influence.

    When you say provided the sound track for the civil rights movement, you forget the contributes of Aretha Franklin, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Jim Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, and the many other singers, black and white, who sang for justice. They also helped sing the anthem, which shouldn’t be forgotten now when James Brown dies. I’m not denying that what he did counted, because it certainly did. But he did not sing alone.

    As for Ford, we’ll never know what would have happened to this country if Nixon had been tried and convicted. The assumption is, this would have been a good thing. I’m not so sure–can our country afford a continuous round of attempting to try and convict every person who becomes president? We would have had to go after Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, and now Bush junior. About the only one unscathed would have been Carter, and he was basically ineffectual in office.

    I also don’t forget that Ford supported full rights for gays, including the right to marry. That’s more than most of the current Democratic candidates are willing to do.

    I didn’t compare the men other than to say they did more than most, and gave it their best. And that will have to do.

  6. dave rogers says:

    All men have feet of clay.

  7. Shelley says:

    Yes, and it’s a darn good thing for the future of the world that we women don’t.

  8. They don’t? Not sure I agree.

  9. dave rogers says:

    I suppose I was trying to suggest that there might be something more charitable to be said upon the occasion of someone’s passing. (I’m responding specifically to Frank Paynter’s comments.) Failing that, perhaps nothing at all. Was it that long ago when we might have heard:

    “Mr Scrooge!” said Bob; “I’ll give you Mr Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast!”

    “The Founder of the Feast indeed!” cried Mrs Cratchit, reddening. “I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it.”

    “My dear,” said Bob, “the children. Christmas Day.”

    “It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,” said she, “on which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge. You know he is, Robert. Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow.”

    “My dear,” was Bob’s mild answer, “Christmas Day.”

    “I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s,” said Mrs Cratchit, “not for his. Long life to him. A merry Christmas and a happy new year! — he’ll be very merry and very happy, I have no doubt!”

    The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of their proceedings which had no heartiness. Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn’t care twopence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which was not dispelled for full five minutes.

    Anyway, upon the occasion of my passing, I hope that those who remember me might remember the best parts of my life, and that those whom I may have wronged, indirectly or otherwise, might at least forgive me. I am grateful for the small favor that my insignificance limits the scrutiny my life receives, and the scope of the potential wrongs I might do.

    Just sayin’.

  10. Shelley says:

    I hear what you’re saying Dave, and it’s something I was trying to accomplish myself–as you say, no one is perfect but no one is completely imperfect.

    My response was a sad attempt at humor. Felt the need for a little end of year humor.

    Got any good jokes, or would that be macabre on this thread?

  11. fp says:

    I want to wail about this… of course Reagan should have been held accountable, and Nixon should have been tried, though if he had been it’s unlikely that Reagan would have been in a position to betray the country as he did.

    Ford, I believe, was a man adept at going along to get along. He went along with the brainiacs on the Warren Commission who convinced him that the country couldn’t handle the truth, whatever it was. He went along with the party and his advisors on the Nixon pardon. He went along with Kissinger and Suharto on the invasion of East Timor.

    I think we must respect him as a human being, love that part of him that emerged as worthy of love, but never deny the awful responsibility he assumed for his questionable decisions and his ethical flexibility.

  12. dave rogers says:

    I think we must respect him as a human being, love that part of him that emerged as worthy of love, but never deny the awful responsibility he assumed for his questionable decisions and his ethical flexibility.

    And how very dutiful of you Frank to ensure that that didn’t go unremarked before his body was in the ground. It’s not as though the evil that men do is often interred with them. It’s the other way ’round if I recall.


    Any good jokes? I’m afraid I’m not very good at telling jokes, Shelley; though I guess I get the occasional laugh from time to time.

    My daughter got me the first season of SNL on DVD for Christmas, and it was kind of odd to be watching the very first episode of SNL and hearing Chevy Chase poke fun at Ford’s apparent clumsiness and assination attempts by oddballs on the day he died.

    One thing that surprised me was that Bill Murray apparently didn’t come up with the obnoxious lounge singer routine, since Rob Reiner did it in the 3rd episode. Pretty funny too.

  13. fp says:

    Well, I don’t get your drift, Dave, but I’m guessing it’s pointing a finger at me in a snarky way. “Dutiful?” “Evil interred with them?” I mean WTF are you talking about? And sorry that I’m not keeping track of the ceremonies and have no clue regarding the condition of the corpse.

    My imagination runs wild with reasons they picked that poor fellow to stand in at the helm… Does the retreat from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) show up in his Won/Loss statistics or in Tricky Dick’s, I wonder? It’s an enormous responsibility being president, and I suspect Ford had no idea that the rug would be pulled out from under Nixon putting him in the leadership role.

    I watched Animal House tonight… enjoyed John Belushi’s insanity. But I don’t have any New Year’s jokes either.

  14. dave rogers says:

    Excuse me if I’m being too oblique here. My point is your bitter, mean, and one-sided recap of his life was uncharitable, unkind, inhumane, and totally gratuitous, coming as it seemed to before his body was even cold. “RIP motherfucker,” indeed.

    I mean, what did the guy do to you, personally? Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical, and I’m sure you’d justify it with all manner of lofty notions regarding justice and the state of the world today. Not like that doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else, as much or more than Gerald Ford.

    I was never a big fan of Ford, though I did vote for him, thus I suppose making me complicit in all manner of crimes against humanity in your eyes.

    As to the mention of the evil that men do, it’s an obscure cultural reference to something some guy from England wrote about the fact that the evil that men do lives on long after they’re dead, the good being interred with their bones. Should you be granted the gift of long life, there will be many days for you to enumerate and rail against the myriad sins of those you found wanting, Frank. It’s not like history is being buried with his corpse or anything.

    But don’t let anything like “respect,” “compassion,” or simple kindness deter you from your fearless truth-telling. We should count ourselves fortunate that we have such steely-eyed souls like you keeping the truth firmly before our eyes, and not let something like simple human decency blind us to that for even a few moments!

    You’re a hell of an American, Frank. And I mean that in all the worst ways.

    Hope that clears up any confusion. Happy New Year.

  15. fp says:

    How rude. How insulting. How essentially stupid, divisive, and nasty. Good job!

  16. Arthur says:

    How essentially stupid, divisive, and nasty. Good job!

    More of this in 2007! (All the best for 2007, Shelley et al.)

  17. Shelley says:

    Actually, not more of this in 2007.

    Happy New Year Arthur.