Wednesday, December 27, 2006

He Was a Ford, Not a Lincoln

My parents have told me often over the years how, at age 3 and 4, I sat transfixed in front of the television and watched the broadcasts of the Watergate hearings. I'm not sure about the nation as a whole, but I'm sure that in the little town of Rustburg, Virginia, I was the only kid that young who could identify Haldemann, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, and Dean. (Before interjecting comments about my nerd level, just refer back a post or two and see that I only came in at a 34, so I'm not THAT bad.)

I have no recollection, however, of Nixon's resignation and Gerald Ford's move into the White House. In fact, my earliest memory of Ford was just prior to the 1976 election, when the kid's section of our local newspaper ran a story (written for my age level) about the Ford-Carter election. At that time, I thought Carter seemed more down-home and folksy, and I wanted him to win (while the nerd level hasn't changed, my political leanings have). It wasn't until later that I recognized how decent and unassuming a man Gerald Ford really was (the title of the post was taken from his famously self-depracating line, "I'm a Lincoln, Not a Ford". He never wanted to be president -- Speaker of the House was his highest ambition -- but he handled the task the best way he knew how; as the news programs have repeated constantly today, he was referred to as "The National Healer," and while his pardon of Nixon was met with outrage (and arguably contributed to his defeat in 1976), he truly did end the "cancer" of Watergate and move the nation forward. He never sought post-presidential fame, and was content simply sit on the occasional corporate boards, play golf, and spend time with his family.

Gerald Ford's passing has brought to a close the life of someone who truly did personify the "grand" in the Grand Old Party. In my opinion, it will be a long time -- if ever -- before we see another like him.


Anonymous said...

Left you a comment, but then it got deleted. Grrr. Anyway, you did a nice write up for having been so young at the time. I was 14 for most of 1976 (15 in November). I remember it all - perhaps the first real consciousness I had had of the importance of the presidency.

Twill be interesting to see what history makes of the man.


Dad said...

Gerald Ford was an honest "common sense" politician (somewhat rare and hard to find today!) and a gentle, forgiving man - a friend to colleagues in Congress - a friend of unwavering loyalty. Above all this, he was a devoted son who revered his mother and stepfather.

I remember those days, sitting with you, watching all the "happenings" of Watergate on tv. They even had a full-length movie of the episode called "Washington Behind Closed Doors," which you pronounced "Washington 'hind those doors."

rdl said...

Nice post! I do ( unfortunately) remember the scandel- kind of.

ipanema said...

I do believe that he's one of the best.