President Reagan once told a group of reporters not to worry about the deficit. “It’s big enough to take care of itself,” he said.
That was among the revelations today at the not-so-serious symposium on humor in the presidency, hosted by former President Gerald R. Ford.
Then there was the one Ford told about Andrei Gromyko, who he said was too grim to grin.
“I met with him probably 10 times and he never cracked a smile,” the former President said of the former Soviet foreign minister. “Every once in a while Henry Kissinger would needle him and he would have a little quiver, but he was pretty much of a hard-liner.”
Fodder for Comedians
Ford, whose presidential pratfalls provided fodder for countless comedians, particularly Chevy Chase, held forth at the three-day look at White House wit, featuring a host of comics and politicians, at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.
Few of the participants were taking it seriously.
“It is historical. I mean it’s probably the closest thing we’re going to have to a summit conference,” said political humorist Mark Russell.
Russell speculated on why Ford, whose slips and falls fueled numerous jokes, would host such an event.
“His attitude is probably . . . ‘Let’s have some laughs,’ ” Russell said. “I hope it gets to be an annual thing, maybe next year at the Jimmy Carter Library--if they can get all those people into (Billy Carter’s) Amoco station.”