Michael Hirsh of Newsweek Online penned a good and timely piece this afternoon on how Bush can learn a thing or two from Gerald Ford on how to move from a position of perceived weakness overseas and use your advantages and collaborative effort to deal effectively with adversaries. The example Hirsh cites is Ford's response to the Soviet Union in the aftermath of our Vietnam debacle, and how Bush can similarly work with other countries and use our remaining financial advantages to apply effective, nonmilitary pressure on Iran.
I'd like to think that the Bush team is capable of such farsightedness, especially since Dick Cheney was a common element in both administrations. But we're talking about the Bush team of Vulcans here, folks who have bungled almost every overseas issue they have touched, an administration led by a delusional man unfit to lead.
The main reason why Hirsh is being too optimistic here starts and ends at the top: As flawed as Ford was, George W. Bush flops in comparison. And that critical point is missed by fine writers like Hirsh, or even his fellow Newsweek mates Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey when they try and compare the two administrations, doing a disservice to Ford. Despite his flaws and partisan hackery on things like the attempt to impeach Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas, Ford wasn't a self-righteous prick thirsting for raw power. In relative terms, Bush is Jethro Bodine.