Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Accidental President

Gerald R. Ford
Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, President Gerald Ford
and Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Cheney at the White House, April 28, 1975

History will be kind to the soft-spoken man that had no designs to be president. Thanks to a thieving Spiro Agnew, Gerry was house minority leader one day, Vice President the next. Nixon and his conniving ways was the next big factor in Ford's existence. The House was sure to impeach Nixon, and he would face charges in the future. The relatively unknown Representative from Michigan became the accidental President.

It wasn't an easy job I'm sure, and not one that many people would have liked to have. The nasty quagmire of Vietnam was just finally coming to an end, oil and gas prices were horrible, and the economy was in a downward spiral.

But Ford strode into office and held his head up high as he made some decisions which were incredibly unpopular but in retrospect absolutely correct. Shortly after entering office he pardoned Tricky Dick Nixon as people across from the White House lawn were chanting "Jail to the Chief".

I remember vividly my rabidly Republican Mother as she cried about Nixon and how she loved Ford for pardoning him "so the party could get rid of that black mark and move on". (Yes, my Mother is a Bush lover as well... it's a wonder we can still talk).

Lots of people wanted Dick's head, but Ford saw that a lengthy court proceeding would draw out the pain and stop the healing. He also made some striking changes to the economy by actually using the veto (something which the current tenant of the White House has forgotten he has the ability to use) which cut deeply into the pocket of the average American, but the decisions were sound and would have pulled America out of the financial quagmire were it not for his successor Jimmy Carter. It was a narrow race that saw Jimmy win over Ford... but the people saw his pardon of Nixon as a cover-up and unfortunately lumped him in with Nixon. They just couldn't see that his administration was the most transparent and legitimate of any in recent history.

Gerry also brought on board one of the greatest financial minds of our time... Alan Greenspan. At the same time, as in the picture above, his good friends were Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld... In retrospect, maybe those two weren't such a good idea... ;)

Ford wasn't a polished public speaker and really was a bit of a goof. Hell, Chevy Chase became a house-hold name from lampooning Gerry so successfully. But once again, it wasn't his design to be President, I bet when he made it to the House he had little vision beyond being the Speaker.

He was a good if not great president and a good and useful ex-president, teaming with one-time opponent Jimmy Carter in many admirable works. And he was, foremost, a fine man. America was lucky that Gerald R. Ford was around when we needed him.

Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006
May he rest in peace.

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