Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford was the first president I ever voted for. In the Fall of 1976 I cast my vote for Gerald Ford in Mrs. Hanold's 2nd grade room. Many things have changed in my life since though as a 2nd grader I still agree with my childish, yet wise assessment that voting for Jimmy Carter was foolish. History proved me right.

Gerald Ford for the most part kept his mouth shut during the terms of subsequent presidents. Though he was quiet he was always willing to give his own party advice about finding common ground with cooperative bi-partisanship. In the last 10 years Gerald Ford continued to warn the GOP of embracing the religious right and often scolded the GOP about those that mention God freely in the political arena. I always found his claim to be empty of conviction because I remember him as a president and I pay attention to what people say. Here is Ford's speech that he gave as he pardoned Richard Nixon:

Ladies and gentlemen:

I have come to a decision which I felt I should tell you and all of my fellow American citizens, as soon as I was certain in my own mind and in my own conscience that it is the right thing to do.

I have learned already in this office that the difficult decisions always come to this desk. I must admit that many of them do not look at all the same as the hypothetical questions that I have answered freely and perhaps too fast on previous occasions.

My customary policy is to try and get all the facts and to consider the opinions of my countrymen and to take counsel with my most valued friends. But these seldom agree, and in the end, the decision is mine. To procrastinate, to agonize, and to wait for a more favorable turn of events that may never come or more compelling external pressures that may as well be wrong as right, is itself a decision of sorts and a weak and potentially dangerous course for a President to follow.

I have promised to uphold the Constitution, to do what is right as God gives me to see the right, and to do the very best that I can for America.

I have asked your help and your prayers, not only when I became President but many times since. The Constitution is the supreme law of our land and it governs our actions as citizens. Only the laws of God, which govern our consciences, are superior to it.

As we are a nation under God, so I am sworn to uphold our laws with the help of God. And I have sought such guidance and searched my own conscience with special diligence to determine the right thing for me to do with respect to my predecessor in this place, Richard Nixon, and his loyal wife and family.

This is Gerald Ford mentioning God more times in one speech than most presidents do at their annual prayer breakfast. Also, keep in mind that the role of this speech was to convinced Democrats (especially those in the South) that he was doing the right thing. My how times have changed.

The one thing I'll always admire about Gerald Ford was that it was through his experience that I saw how media changed things. Even as a young boy I knew that the media portrayed him as a bumbling, clumsy man. The reality was that he was a man of great conviction who came out of extreme poverty. He had an alcoholic father that impacted his life so much that he and his wife have treated those bound by addiction. He was perhaps the greatest athlete to ever become president. I watched the 1978 Rose Bowl where my beloved Washington Huskies were playing Michigan. Gerald Ford was in the stands rooting for Michigan. My dad told me he was a football player for Michigan on their 1932 National Championship team and in 1934 was their most valuable player.

To the media Gerald Ford was a bumbling fool who stumbled into the White House and with the stroke of a pen denied them the red meat they desired so much. Ford prevented them from watching over an opportunity to see Nixon torn apart in a trial. (same media that has largely ignored Saddam's trial but I digress) It was for this reason really that the country did end up turning to a true bumbling fool of a peanut farmer from Georgia.

By the way, Ford won in a landslide in my 2nd grade class. Carter only got one vote and I even argued that the vote shouldn't have counted because it was from a kid in another class. If you have any seven year olds at home and they act like this...beware this is how they become libertarians.

May God Bless Gerald Ford and his famly.


robert the grump said...

So it begins. Like Reagan, Ford was unpopular in his time and now that he's dead, he's being deified.

I'll give you this; Ford was the last true fiscal conservative in the Republican Party. The Republicans love to claim the high ground on government spending and entitlements, but the truth is that the two biggest spenders in history are Reagan and Bush 43, both hard core Republicans. Bush had famously never vetoed a spending bill through his first six years in office.

But to his credit, Gerald Ford was a real conservative. He vetoed every superfluous spending bill that came his way - something like 39 of them. His own Party clenched their teeth as he wiped out their pork barrels with a stroke of his pen. Hurrah for Ford!

Gerald Ford would never have allowed Ted Stevens to build a bridge to nowhere.

But we need to stay attached to reality here. Ford was not a particularly successful President, nor was he popular enough to ever be elected to either the Presidency or Vice Presidency. He was appointed to both.

Like Jimmy Carter, he was a good guy who did a mediocre job in most respects.

He will always be remembered as the idiot who pardoned Nixon. That's a shame, he really deserves better - except that it's true.

Tracy said...

Ford established credibility to the office again...and he did it in two years. I think for the most part that is a success, albeit a measured one.

Also, I think his disgust for spending came from the fact that he was a member of the House of Representatives rather than a Senator or former Governor.

robert the grump said...

Whether Ford restored credibility to the office or not is very debatable. Do you respect the office of President now? I didn't think so.

Ford's problem, and what he'll be remembered for in history books, is that he pardoned Richard Nixon, a man who committed crimes that make Bill Clinton look like a boy scout. Yet, Nixon never was impeached and then Ford pardoned him in case some prosecutor with brass balls decided to do the right thing.

Examine that...a blow job in the Oval Office vs being responsible for burglarizing the office of your political opposition and then covering it up. Which one gets impeached? This is why Europeans laugh at us, though they don't deserve to with their archaic politics.

Ford pardoned Nixon because they were extremely close friends. He has admitted that, to some extent, though he also claimed that it was to heal the wounds for America. BS!

Even though having a recent President go to jail is embarrassing, it proves that the system works. Spiro Agnew went to jail after being Vice President, and that proves that the nation can recover from that type of scandal.

But allowing a criminal to go free because he was President is wrong, and it does not restore credibility to the office, it totally strips all credibility.

While we're at it, before you annoint Ford as a saint, let's also remember that Ford was a huge proponent of the war in Vietnam, tried to illegally impeach Justice Douglas (for the crime of being too liberal) and was against the use of condoms. He was the most far-right Republican of his day, which is not a good thing even if you belong to that despicable party of goons.

Esther said...

So, Robert, the fact that LBJ did the same things as Nixon to a greater magnitude doesn't matter? Hello, Nixon was not the only one spying on opponents etc.

Also, Clinton was not impeached for a blow job, he was impeached for lying under oath about a blow job. Perjury is perjury no matter what it's about. I'm not saying that Nixon should not have been impeached, I'm just correcting you on the reason for Clinton's impeachment.

Frankly, I have respect for the office of presidency, just not much respect for the person in the office. Ford did a lot to restore that credibility and it was not only Nixon who destroyed the credibility of the office in the first place.

robert the grump said...

Esther, you are technically right, but Clinton was put in a position to lie under oath because the Republicans couldn't pin anything on him for Whitewater and resorted to persecuting him for the blow job. So it is all about the blow job, though semantically you are correct.

I never said LBJ was better than Nixon. I despise LBJ almost as much as Bush, and I actually think Nixon was an effective President, except for that lying, burglarizing and cover-up thing.

But here's the deal: prove in court that LBJ did anything like Watergate. Any lawyer can hang Nixon, but when did LBJ get caught doing anything like that? So you're just speculating, though you may be right. The point is, Nixon got caught and Ford let him go.

And I still disagree with both you and Tracy. I don't see how Ford restored jack squat to the office. Pardoning Nixon did nothing but taint him and America. Ford was a nice guy by all accounts, and a genuinely decent person. Sucked as President, though. I rank him as Jimmy Carter's equal.

Tracy said...

Okay, let's hold the bus for a second...there's alot to address here. I did not elevate the likes of Gerald Ford to Sainthood. The point I attempted to make (and now see that I did it poorly) was that as a young boy I saw how media portrayed people differently than how they really were. The only substantive thing I had to say about Ford in terms of policy was that he criticized members of the GOP for mentioning God but his signature speech from the oval office (the scene of the BJ) mentioned God several times...just ironic I thought.

I think my statement that he restored credibility was wrong in retrospect and I agree with Grump's main points. I really more believe that pardoning Nixon was a person and partisan decision though I liked the fact that it pissed off the press very much.

I also look at Ford like a Keith Gilbertson. (Esther this point may be lost on you since it's sorta a local thing here) Keith held it together until someone else came in...though I don't know if this makes Tyrone Willingham a Jimmy Carter...jury is still out.

Also, Ford almost won the election and only lost by around 50 electoral votes...that doesn't indicate that people were THAT angry with him. If they were then they must have really hated Walter Mondale.

Esther is 100% right on the BJ. (Sorry that sounds bad Esther) Clinton lied under oath in a seperate case and the BJ was material evidence in that case. Remember he lied in the Paula Jones deposition which had nothing to do with Ken Starr. If he just admitted it then it would've been about the BJ which thankfully is not against the law in this country (unless it involves 2 men in Texas) I still argue that a sitting president should not have to testify in that manner however.

By the way I still have respect for the office of president even though the current president is a dolt just like I did when Clinton was in there.