The University Record, October 1, 1996

'The Trouble with Washington'

Former U.S. President and U-M Alumnus Gerald Ford (right) and former Sen. George McGovern were among those featured in a sold-out conference Sept. 26 on "The Trouble with Washington," held at the Gerald Ford Library on North Campus. Other participants included former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin, ABC News political analyst Hal Bruno, former Ford Administration official James Cannon, U.S. Sen. William Cohen, Reagan Administration officials Ken Duberstein and Lyn Nofziger, former House Speaker Thomas Foley, Common Cause Chairman Edward Cabot, former House Republican leader Robert Michel, Times Mirror columnist James Pinkerton, Time Magazine columnist Hugh Sidey, former Republican National Committee chairwoman Mary Louise Smith, Republican consultant Robert Teeter, and Detroit News Washington Bureau correspondent Richard Willing.

Panelists and audience members offered theories, explanations, and educated guesses for what Daniel Boorstin described as the democratic paradox of Americans' confidence in their form of government but with a long-standing distrust of those who govern them.

McGovern chose the conference to publicly thank President Ford for an act of kindness that occurred 21 years earlier. McGovern recalled how his outspoken criticism of the American involvement in the Vietnam War had led to a 10-year period during which he was not invited to the White House. In April 1975 President Ford invited McGovern to a small evening dinner at the White House. McGovern said he has never forgotten that gesture. The former senator and 1972 presidential candidate said more of the kind of old fashioned decency that was shown by Ford would help change the hostility many Americans have toward Washington.

Photo by Ryan Solomon