Much is being made this morning of the late President Gerald Ford’s criticism of George W. Bush “from the grave.”

I read the Woodward piece and found it generally unsurprising. Ford said in July 2004 that he wouldn’t have ordered the Iraq War — given what he knew about the situation. That’s no great shocker. Ford’s only wartime presidential role involved watching the final destruction of non-communist South Vietnam, after his former congressional colleagues refused to commit any more money to the cause.

One of Ronald Reagan’s greatest strengths in the 1976 campaign against Ford was his (Reagan’s) much stronger stance in favor of a strong military actively combatting the great evil of the day: communism. Ford talked tough only after the Reagan campaign pushed him in that direction.

Neither is it surprising in the Woodward piece that Ford would have characterized Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as different men in 2004 from the men who had worked for him in 1974.

To me, the most interesting piece of Woodward’s story is the section on Henry Kissinger. If Ford’s remarks are accurate, I’m left with two strong impressions. First, Kissinger was even more of a self-absorbed media slut than we already guessed he was. Second, Ford had the fortitude to stand firm when Kissinger threw one of his tantrums. Lesser presidents would have bent over backwards to accommodate the great sage of “realistic” diplomacy.

The criticism of Bush gets the lead treatment because that’s the current hook that sells the newspaper story, but the latter discussion of Ford’s own White House memories will probably be of most use for political historians.