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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Presidential Historian Interviewed Gerald Ford

In September 1995, presidential historian Michael Beschloss, at the suggestion of Newsweek's then editor, the late Maynard Parker, called on former president Gerald Ford for a conversation about his life and career-on the condition that his remarks would not be published until after his death.

"In hindsight, what stands out most from our talk was Ford's frustration that the Republican Party hadlurched so far to the right," writes Beschloss in an essay as part of Newsweek's January 8, 2007 cover package, "Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006."

" 'IfI'd been elected in '76,' Ford told Beschloss, 'the party wouldn't be as far right as it is at the present time ... I sure hope it comes back to the center.' Ford went on to complain about the 1992 GOP convention in Houston,where Pat Buchanan -- who had challenged President George H.W. Bush for that year's party nomination -- demanded that conservatives 'take back our culture,'" Beschloss writes.

"The student of history can detect Gerald Ford's influence on America from Watergate to Iraq, from the presidencies of Richard Nixon to George W. Bush," he adds. "President for just 29 months, Ford changed the way we live, rescuing the White House from scandal, restoring a measure of confidence in politics and articulating a philosophy of robust executive power that influences President Bush even now," Beschloss writes. "After leaving office he was critical of the War Powers Resolution, which requires congressional consultation on issues of force, and he passed on his skepticism about a constrained presidency to his last two chiefs of staff, Vice President DickCheney and ex-Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Ford's vision of power, then, has molded Bush 43's."

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