December 27, 2006

Do you like Pizza? And Beer?

Gerald Ford doesn't get a lot of historical credit. Compared to recent Presidential giants who for good or ill had a tremendous impact on the country and the world, it's easy to consider Ford, who was elected to neither the Presidency nor the Vice Presidency, as not much of a President. His pardoning of Nixon a month after Nixon's resignation is believed to have been the primary cause of Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976, and the "Ford to City: Drop Dead" Daily News cover, his pratfalls, his early patronage of the two great evils, his choice of Bob Dole as his running mate, and the official declaration of our loss in the Vietnam war on his watch all combine to leave a person with a less than satisfying portrait of the national leader he became.

Even your trusty Chief of Staff, in one of his very first political opinions as a young Deputy Chief, said plainly and with great confidence as the 1976 elections approached that people should vote for Jimmy Carter because a new President was always better than the same old one. (Ever the optimist was I... until 2000, when that theory was roundly disproved.)

Yet none the less nowadays I think fondly of the man, who with unassuming ways, lack of pretension, and collegial down home country goodness was the ideal breath of fresh air in the wake of the shadowy, sultry Machiavellian strategies of his predecessor. Ford's honest affability helped to forestall the great national temper-tantrum that was brewing, diffusing the rhetoric, diffusing the anger, allowing for a broad American exhale. No one likes the taste of Pepto Bismol but it sure soothes an upset stomach, and Ford with his calm, confident assumption of national command I believe was just the medicine a volatile and upset nation needed.

And regardless of his merits, I would remind you of the two attempted assassinations in less than 3 weeks in September of 1975. I say that if you're President enough that people are trying to shoot you for it, you're President enough for me.


At 10:10 AM, Blogger Allan said...

Ever seeking ways to take people's attention from the disaster that is his administration, W shuts down the government on Tuesday "for a national day of mourning." Courts closed. No mail delivery. No passports issued, or applications accepted.

Everyone talks about Ford's "honesty." Well, compared with the person he replaced, ANYone would shine. (Well, ALMOST anyone.) But I never shed the belief that Ford and Nixon reached an understanding before Ford's appointment, that Ford would pardon Nixon after Nixon left office.

As for mourning, I wished Ford no ill. But he was not a parent or a child of mine, or a sibling. He never helped pay for my college education. He never sent me a birthday card, or attended my graduations. Those would be the people that I mourn. This "national day of mourning" is a joke, a scam, a charade, a circus. But then again, that is what our society has become.


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