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Ford Blooper

Commemorating Gerald Ford, not with a Ford blooper, but one about him — one that Kermit Schafer thought very highly of in Schafer’s Blunderful World of Bloopers:

Tom Snyder, popular late night talk master on NBC-TV, tells of the classic blooper revolving around President Ford. The blooper is bound to get the notoriety of the All Time Great Blooper which centered around President Herbert Hoover, who was introduced as Hoobert Heever. The daughters of the American Revolution gave a dinner in honor of President Ford. The master of ceremonies of this highly conservative group in attendance introduced the president thus: “Ladies and gentleman…The president of the United States, Gerald Smith!” There was consternation in the audience when it was recalled that Gerald Smith was one of America’s foremost Fascists.

Schafer’s bloopers, usually laugh-out funnier, need no exposition, as this one does. (They’re more like this reported quip from a disc jockey: “Check your local newspooper for movie listings.” Or this one from a radio broadcaster: “I was almost late for the broadcast because I went to see my Uncle Jack off on the Queen Mary.”) And he also includes very few about politicians: one from Adlai Stevenson, a couple mentioning Nixon and a few involving Henry Kissinger. The great bulk come from anonymous broadcasters, celebrity talkers (like Johnny Carson or Merv Griffin), live commercials, and media-innocents interviewed in game shows.

What does this mean? We don’t need more proof of this, but I think it’s a reminder of how distant the political world used to be from the entertainment world. Frank Rich’s columns wouldn’t have been comprehensible if the two were divided, but now people treat the political stage as exactly that: a stage, one among many others. Which is why Americans gave Clinton such high approval ratings even during the Lewinsky scandal, and why Bush’s blundering was so fascinating.