Betty Ford Center Emergency Entrance

It's not just, for me, that the Betty Ford Center has led us down the path of high-price, but meaningless, private 12-step treatment programs.

Nor is it because I don't comprehend Republicanism - which means never thinking about the good of other people, other than making them do what YOU think is the right thing.

I actually wouldn't think Betty Ford was genetically a Republican.  She was soft-hearted. 

But that's my problem with the Betty Ford model.  She was roped into being a Republican, like it seemed she fell into everything else in her life.  Her addictions (Valium and fairly low-key levels of alcohol) were a direct result of her seeming to be occupying someone else's space.  She described her discomfort in the limelight of the White House - not the life she imagined or wanted for herself.

Betty Ford harkened back to the suburban housewife of the 1950s - the pre-sixties woman who wasn't free to have a career and select a destiny.

I know, Betty revealed her addictions so others could share theirs too. (My, that has turned into a cultural phenomenon, hasn't it?)  I know she bared her breast cancer so other sufferers wouldn't feel alone.  But this aspect of her life is just a little too martyr-like for me to find in it a path for others - and particularly young women, like my daughters.

I know, considering Betty Ford (that's Gerald's last name, did you know?), who needs me?  My only claim to fame on this earth is that I invented myself and my destiny.  And I deeply admire people who have done the same for themselves.

So I mourn the death of a nice person who wished nobody harm, and who tried to reach out to other people.  But I wouldn't build a statue to her in the town square.

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