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Yesterday I asked Jonathan Chait about a characterization of Gerald Ford that Chait had included in his Los Angeles Times’ column Sunday about President Ford:

In Ford’s time, to be a conservative meant to be cautious and prudent. Ford opposed deficits, and he vetoed spending hikes and tax cuts alike. His recently released comments criticizing the Iraq war (made in a 2004 interview but embargoed until after his death) show how alien he found the current president’s reckless foreign policy. In his post-presidential career, Ford emerged as a critic of the religious right and an advocate of political reforms, both of which placed him far to the left of today’s GOP.

Gerald Ford as an example of a “good” conservative versus George W. Bush as a “radical” is a meme the left loves to promote, and of course it is absurd. 

I asked Jonathan for evidence for this and other assertions, but none has been forthcoming.  I did get this e-mail:

Hi Hugh,

I did a dogpile search on Gerald Ford and the Christian Right. I could not
find any article alluding to Jonathan Chait’s claim in his LA Times article.

I would be interested if he forwarded to you any references.

Happy new year.

Jeffery L.

I couldn’t find anything either, so if Ford “emerged as a critic of the religious right,” he did so in the same way as he “emerged” as a critic of the Iraq war –in a way that the ordinary conventions of journalism cannot authenticate.

Perhaps Jonathan has a secret stash of Ford denunciations of Jerry Falwell, but my guess is he “recalled” this as being the case and ran with it –confusing Barry Goldwater and his late-in-life denunciations of the religious right. with Gerry Ford’.  Barry, Gerry –you can see how any serious journalist could make that mistake.



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