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Wouldn't You Really Rather Have a Buick?

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET

Okay, so I'm feeling a bit irreverent here in forest fire, and flash flood warnings country. Maybe it's the holidays, or the threat of another not so new year; maybe it's carpel tunnel syndrome of the mind, maybe it's having read too much Walt Whitman, as a wee lass, or maybe not enough, but Gerald Ford, to me, was the Eisenhower of his time. Except for one thing: Eisenhower was the dude who warned us about the military industrial complex that is America now.

That said, he had a sense of humor. When then Congressman Ford was sworn in as vice president, back in 1973, en route to becoming the 38th president, he announced, on the Senate floor, "I'm a Ford not a Lincoln." Either way, he sure knew how to keep the political machinery lubed, and maintain a "business as usual" aura by pardoning errant Nixon. Those who don't forgive Ford for letting Richard Nixon off the hook fail to understand that the pardon was no more about exoneration than Abraham Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation" was about emancipation. Something there is about the highest office in the land seems to pollute even the most idealistic among us, and those who don't go along with the corruption, or appear to stand above the fray, get assassinated. Those who never lose a night's sleep over anything seem to live forever.

And, as we approach 2008, contenders line up at the gate with hats in hand to enter a nerve-wracking presidential race, and watch as they prepare to take out a second mortgage on their homes and, in some cases, their souls, I can't help but think of a movie released one year before Gerald Ford assumed the vice presidency, "The Candidate," a film about an idealistic young man, Bill McKay, as played by Robert Redford, who enters the senatorial race only to discover how politics corrupts, and where he is to find that, whether one is a Ford, Lincoln, or an Oldsmobile, ideals are optional with the vehicle, winning is all that counts.

We can only hope that anyone seeking to become president nowadays has also figured out that they, too, must prepare for a carry-on campaign, with wash and wear principles; no baggage is allowed at check-in, even if it be from Louis Vuitton. However cynical this may sound, while power corrupts, nothing corrupts better than politics.

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