Remembering Gerald Ford

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)

Robert N. Going, who was set to run for a seat on the 1976 New York delegate slate as a Reagan supporter (and was a Reagan delegate in 1980; see his comment for explanation -- I've corrected this paragraph), says of the recently departed 38th president, de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est.

Here's a selection of bona sententia in tributes to the Accidental President. The same three points frequently recur: a decent man, the right man for the hour, and, even if not a great president, certainly a good deal better than his predecessor and his successor:

(Also at Hot Air, Allahpundit posts video of the first thing (I sheepishly admit) that came to my mind when I heard the news on the radio. This sketch from Saturday Night Live in 1996 is really a satire about the network news business, not about Ford; his name was just a hook on which to hang the concept: Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw prerecording several versions of breaking news of Ford's death, just in case something should happen while Brokaw is on vacation. In the event, Ford outlived Brokaw's career.)

My own reminiscence: The first political convention I ever attended was the 1976 Oklahoma 1st District Convention at Nathan Hale High School. My dad was there as Wagoner County's lone delegate (our precinct was the only one in the county in District 1), and he was a Ford man. He also served that day as convention secretary. Then as now, the state and district conventions selected who would go to the national convention as delegates. But prior to 1998, Oklahoma didn't have a presidential preference primary, and national delegates weren't bound to a candidate; instead candidates for national delegate would announce their preference and run as a slate. The Reagan slate won the 1st District by a large margin that day. I was sad that Ford fell short in that skirmish, happy to seem him win the nomination at Kansas City, but sad again to see him lose to Jimmy Carter by such a close margin. At age 12 I didn't understand all the ideological issues in the '76 primary campaign. (I didn't discover National Review until the following year in the high school library.) He was the Republican incumbent, he was a decent man in a difficult time, and that was reason enough to support his renomination.

MORE remembrances, but not so kind:

Paul Greenberg on "Gerald Ford: The In-between President":

There is much to be said for mediocrity, and surely it will be at the state funeral now in the offing. There are worse things. Certainly few things are more perilous than man's eternal striving for greatness and the hubris it engenders. Look what happened to Woodrow Wilson and Lyndon Johnson, and is happening to George W. Bush.

At such times we are tempted to think, oh, yes, better someone who can wrap up an indecent defeat as decently as possible, the way Jerry Ford did in Vietnam. It wasn't his fault. He was just there in the White House at the time, like Zelig. Give us another Zelig, the people cry. A nice unknown quantity who will soothe things over - a Jerry Ford. (And now a Barack Obama?)

It's exhausting, always acting on principle, seeking to shape history rather than be shaped by it. There comes a time when the country just wants it all to be over, and that is the time when a Gerald R. Ford earns our gratitude, or at least gets it. And let it be noted that Mr. Ford was a good citizen even if he was First Citizen - no easy thing.

Much like Gerald Ford himself, most of us want to do the decent thing and overlook some other things in the interest of a little peace and quiet for now, whatever whirlwind we are sowing for later. Let it be said that Gerald Rudolph Ford was just the man for his time - a time not unlike this discouraging one, a time yearning for a return to a normalcy that never was.

Christopher Hitchens at Slate: "Our Short National Nightmare: How President Ford managed to go soft on Iraqi Baathists, Indonesian fascists, Soviet Communists, and the shah … in just two years":

Ford's refusal to meet with Solzhenitsyn, when the great dissident historian came to America, was consistent with his general style of making excuses for power. As Timothy Noah has suggested lately, there seems to have been a confusion in Ford's mind as to whether the Helsinki Treaty was intended to stabilize, recognize, or challenge the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. However that may be, the great moral component of the Helsinki agreement—that it placed the United States on the side of the repressed populations—was ridiculed by Ford's repudiation of Solzhenitsyn, as well as by his later fatuities on the nature of Soviet domination. To have been soft on Republican crime, soft on Baathism, soft on the shah, soft on Indonesian fascism, and soft on Communism, all in one brief and transient presidency, argues for the sort of sportsmanlike Midwestern geniality that we do not ever need to see again.

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Remembering Gerald Ford.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Paul Tay said:

He's still WRONG.

W. Author Profile Page said:

I liked Ford. I would have voted for him, had I been old enough at the time. Something about Jimmy Carter's attitude, like he had some sort of divine certainty in all things, rubbed me the wrong way. My assessment of him turned out to be quite prescient.

However, for all my admiration for him, I wish Ford never would have pardoned Nixon. President Nixon committed great wrongs against the country, and he should have been brought to justice.

Dozens were imprisoned or indicted because of Watergate. Why should have Nixon escaped the same fate?

That was the overwhelming attitude in the heartland where I grew up. That speaks volumes on why Ford didn't get elected.

Actually I was a 1980 Reagan delegate, not 1976, and therein lies another tale. John Sears, Reagan's campaign manager, rather than offend the still Rockefeller-dominated New York Republican Party (Rocky was actually sitting Vice President at the time) made a deal not to contest any seats in New York, and the slate appointed by the powers that be would officially classify themselves as UNCOMMITTED.

That Reagan was not in on this himself became obvious when a friend and I personally spoke with him in Keene, NH and told him we didn't like that idea and wanted to run anyway. Reagan told us to go right ahead, with his blessing. And we almost did, but being loyal supporters we decided to clear it with the campaign first. They told us absolutely not, and Ford ended up with New York and the nomination.

Four years later and neither Reagan nor Sears were in a mood to repeat that mistake when the same offer was made again. We ran a full Reagan slate against "uncommitted" officials and a handful of Bushies and (memory is a little hazy here) ended up with nearly all the delegates. Bush had about six, including Lionel Hampton, who was a very pleasant fellow.

Had we taken the same tack in 1976, history would have been a whole lot different.

I should add that the Byzantine election law in New York at the time prohibited us from listing Reagan's name anywhere on the ballot, so we had to educate the public as to who this slate of unknowns was supporting, while the "Official" slate consisted mostly of well-known past and present and popular politicos. It was quite an achievement, and sufficient in itself to justify my life here on earth.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 27, 2006 11:45 PM.

Adolph's Beautiful America was the previous entry in this blog.

L'essence de la Rue Cerise is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]