December 27, 2006, R.I.P., Gerald Ford
The 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford, passed away at age 93. He managed to just barely outlive Ronald Reagan (who helped cost him the 1976 election with a primary and convention challenge) as the oldest man ever to serve as President, and Ford was the only man to serve in that office without having been elected to either it or to the vice-presidency, having taken that office after Spiro Agnew resigned, and then assuming the presidency after Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.
Despite having officials around him that included Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State), George H.W. Bush (CIA Director), Dick Cheney (Chief of Staff) and Don Rumsfeld (Defense Secretary), all of whom had previously served Nixon in some capacity, Ford himself was (perhaps unbelievably) still a decent man who invariably tried to do the right thing, even if in his mind "the right thing" included pardoning Nixon. Ford believed that the gesture was a healing one for the nation (even if it set the unfortunate precedent that no matter how big a scumbag he is, once one gets elected President, he can get away with anything... and I'm not talking about blowjobs.) Still, the gesture managed to help cost him the 1976 election, which was won by Jimmy Carter (another by-and-large decent man who proved to be a less than fully effective President; the two men were actually life-long friends after Carter's presidency ended.)
Ford famously bumped his head getting out of a helicopter, and tripped while getting off of Air Force One and while skiing... so naturally, this is what we all remember about him because Chevy Chase did pratfalls; Al Franken, who wrote many of those sketches for the then brand-new Saturday Night Live, pointed out that Ford, an all-American football player at the University of Michigan, was probably the greatest athlete ever to occupy the White House. Notice, btw, that we are in a different era, where our current President, who is constantly falling off of things in hilarious ways, and whose favorite leisure activity is chainsawing things, gets a complete and total pass from that very same media. What you gonna do?
R.I.P., Mr. President.
Sadly for Ford (I'm agnostic on what the effect on the country would have been) if he hadn't tried to conciliate the movement conservatives he probably would have been reelected.
Which is amusing, because Bush is trying to position himself as the heir to the Ford legacy and Nancy's remembrance called him a close political ally.
How the movement hath fallen...
Posted by julia at December 27, 2006 8:05 PM
Gerald Ford Remembered for His 'Calm and Steady' Hand
Posted by READ at December 27, 2006 8:28 PM