Wednesday, January 03, 2007
You Forgot Healing
On the occasion of President Gerald R. Ford's death, the press applied the word decent to him so often that it stopped sounding like praise and started to sound like an insult.What will the adjective of choice be when the current Bush goes, I wonder, and how monomaniacally euphemistic will it be?
On television, Morton Kondracke, Donna Brazile, Charles Gibson, Bob Schieffer, Andrea Mitchell, and Pat Buchanan all testified to Ford's decency. The New York Times' obituary rang the decency bell three times, the Chicago Tribune's twice, the Boston Globe's once. News coverage in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times cited Ford's decency, and so did Newsweek and Time.
But the Washington Post led the parade, hailing his royal decency in at least three news stories (Dec. 28, Dec. 29, and Dec. 31), as well as in a Dec. 28 editorial and a Dec. 29 op-ed by Watergate investigator Richard Ben-Veniste. A Dec. 28 Style section tribute by Wil Haygood buried the dead president with seven "D" words—and that's not counting the eighth in the headline.
When not calling him decent, the press called him "honorable." When not calling him honorable, it praised his "integrity," his "virtue," his "common sense," and his "humble" style. They did so with such unceasing frequency you had to wonder what they had against the man. Was it the plaid jackets? The pipe? The bald head?
Miserable failure? Incompetent boob? Criminal? Negligent? Criminally negligent? Chickenhawk? Bloodthirsty? Imperialist? Cowardly? Traitorous? Ignominious? Worst-ever? I can think of hundreds that would apply.
My favorite of all, I think, would be "impeached in disgrace." Or maybe "convicted of war crimes."
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