WHITE HOUSE WATCH: The Ford Years by John Osborne


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After six years of coveting the jockeying and backbiting in the Nixon court, Osborne has a new set of subalterns to appraise. These New Republic pieces extend from the Nixon pardon--which Osborne favored and which, he believes, was only mysterious for its ""rush""--to the post-election rationalizations and self-justifications of staff members. In between there was Mayaguez where the President, in Osborne's increasingly conservative view, acted ""properly, legally, courageously, and as necessity required"" (the post-Watergate media is chided for its ghoulish appetite for ""official victims"") and the energy issue which Ford never fully grasped, being in fact ""bored"" by environmental questions. In between, also, the May 1975 ""Sunday massacre"" when Jerry substituted ""my guys"" for Secretary of Defense Schlesinger and CIA director Colby. Osborne, ever attentive to rising and falling stars among presidential advisers, sees in this episode unique proof that Ford was ""intensely egoistic behind that humble facade."" Yet, on foreign affairs, Osborne opines that Carter will have little to do but follow the Kissinger-Ford policies in the Middle East, South Africa, and Panama. One surmises that Osborne views the decline of Kissinger under Ford as something of an inevitability though admitting the fascination Henry K. exudes. The effect, finally, of Ford watching and second-guessing is one of tedium. Osborne rarely ventures to take the long view, and who could now care whether Elliot Richardson might be Ford's choice as Kissinger's eventual successor at the State Department?

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1977
Publisher: New Republic Book Co.--dist. by Dutton