A FORD, NOT A LINCOLN by Richard Reeves


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The point of Reeves' little debunking book on Jerry Ford can be quickly stated: Gerald Ford is like a McDonald's hamburger, a triumph in marketing the lowest common denominator. "Goal? He has no goals--Ford was a product of the system and the goal was to win the job." Unlike John Hersey whose profile in the New York Times Magazine was friendly--Hersey admired Ford's celebrated "ordinariness"--Reeves thinks that affable Jerry, whose chief concern seems to be never to offend anyone, is wholly unequipped intellectually and probably morally to lead the country. And in fact Reeves draws a very unedifying picture of Ford and his "team"--including a drunk and nasty Bob Hartmann and a power-hungry Donald Rumsfeld--walking in the shadows of the Nixon gang. It took weeks for Ford to work himself up to ousting Alexander Haig who had become an independent potentate during Nixon's decline. Reeves calls Ford a "superhawk" on Vietnam; he dubs the Nixon pardon "an extraordinary act, of political stupidity"; he characterizes the Chief Executive who was never meant to rise above Congressman from Grand Rapids, as "ignorant." (Ford, dislikes complicated position papers and once asked for a simplified one-page memo with a bottom line marked: Approve or Disapprove.) But what finally is Reeves' purpose in writing this little expose of what everyone already knows---i.e., that Jerry Ford is dumb? Is he saying that all people get the government they deserve? Lacking any substantive analysis of why we have enshrined "the least objectionable alternative," Reeves doesn't seem to get much mileage out of either his title or his subtitle. Dispiriting.
Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1975
ISBN: 0091264707
Page count: 191pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1975


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