Where are the sensible conservatives these days?
Many of the thoughts recently expressed about Gerald R. Ford’s presidency remind your superior correspondents of just how dangerously far to the right this country has veered. We’re not talking about the small government/fiscally prudent right that we can understand and respect, even if we frequently disagree with it. This is the totalitarian right of Bush and the neo-cons.
The word “decent” was bruited about by those describing Jerry Ford, and rightfully so. He was gracious, plainspoken, and fully fixed on mending a country torn by the wild ’60s and by Nixon’s excessive reactions, which culminated in Watergate. Jerry Ford, seemingly, had no big agenda. He knew what he was there for — to soothe and to heal a country.
Bob Woodward’s interviews revealed Ford as a traditional conservative Republican who was appalled by the hard-right swing of his party. At the time of his death, Barry Goldwater, the spiritual force behind the conservative movement, was equally appalled.
As geezers, P&J look back at our youth and the nation that used to be. Most folks of our age and older probably consider the years from the end of World War II to (approximately) the mid-1970s as the time of the greatest progress and hopefulness in our country. Many of the same people cannot bring themselves to admit that these were also the years of the most liberal government we have experienced.
There has been ongoing debate since Harry Truman about the need for universal health-care — just like in the rest of the industrialized world — but the forces of greed continue to thwart the process. When will we acknowledge that the free market system is not a panacea, but an excellent path with limits? Those shortcomings include health-care, education, mass transit, and environmental safety (although environmental sanity can become profitable in certain respects).
The Bush administration’s incompetents have no vision. They are tone-deaf to real progress and imaginative thinking. Despite his conservative leanings, Jerry Ford seemed to have a far more open mind. Karl Rove has frequently stated that his political model is the administration of William McKinley, from the age of the robber barons, when socioeconomic inequity was far more massive.
Well, he’s gotten his wish. Inequity is here, and the path of tax cuts for the rich, and eat shit for the poor and middle classes, is the status quo. Jerry Ford was a conservative who knew better. Where are his likes today?
Journalist pal Charles Winokoor of the Taunton Gazette sent along his own personal tribute to James Brown, which first appeared in his newspaper. It’s an excellent piece. Charles, a Brown fan for the ages, knew enough of the Godfather of Soul’s repertoire to include reference to a very pithy and relevant lyric that still holds true today, drawn from “Talking Loud and Saying Nothing.”
Good luck to you, Mister Loud and Wrong;
Just keep on singing that same old funny song.
Since Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are still on the air, singing that same old funny song, even with a political sea change, at least James’s good luck wish has come through to these two Loud and Wrong fellows and their brethren. Their song is indeed becoming more comical.
A forgotten note from our tribute to James Brown last week: When Phillipe arrived in Little Rhody in 1968, he attended a concert by Brown and his Famous Flames at the old Providence Auditorium on North Main Street. The scene is forever burned into his brain: James, his own bad self, accompanied by a female dancer with a shaved head, and a crowd, predominantly young black kids, standing on their seats and dancing.
Maceo, take it to the bridge.
: Phillipe And Jorge
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