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Ford On Kissinger

Bob Woodward's not-so-shocking scoop in this morning's Washington Post, that Gerald Ford felt the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake, is mildly interesting (the late president revealed this to Woodward in July of 2004). But it is overshadowed by Ford's thoughts on Henry Kissinger, invariably the most colorful (if you'll pardon the euphemism) aspect of every story he is involved with. Here's Woodward:

Most challenging of all, as Ford recalled, was Henry A. Kissinger, who was both secretary of state and national security adviser and had what Ford said was "the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew."

Kissinger remained a challenge for Ford. He regularly threatened to resign, the former president recalled. "Over the weekend, any one of 50 weekends, the press would be all over him, giving him unshirted hell. Monday morning he would come in and say, 'I'm offering my resignation.' Just between Henry and me. And I would literally hold his hand. 'Now, Henry, you've got the nation's future in your hands and you can't leave us now.' Henry publicly was a gruff, hard-nosed, German-born diplomat, but he had the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew."

Ford added, "Any criticism in the press drove him crazy." Kissinger would come in and say: "I've got to resign. I can't stand this kind of unfair criticism." Such threats were routine, Ford said. "I often thought, maybe I should say: 'Okay, Henry. Goodbye,' " Ford said, laughing. "But I never got around to that."

Too bad. This serves as a nice contrast to some of the more squirm-inducing Nixon tapes, on which the paranoid and nervous president needs to have his hand held by Kissinger. Ah, the Nixon years. --Isaac Chotiner