Friday, December 29, 2006

Memories of Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford was the first presidential candidate I was eligible to vote for. My parents were republicans and I followed their lead in that election - my first as a voter. The race between Ford and contender Jimmy Carter was a close one and the latter squeaked to victory.

It was Gerald Ford who replaced the resigning Nixon; the Watergate scandal transfixed the nation. I remember spending my afternoons watching the daily hearings on TV. By the time of the Watergate scandal, we had witnessed the assasination of a President (Kennedy) and two other political leaders - Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. so the spectacle of a disgraced president wasn't exactly a raping of national innocence. The world and politics was ugly business and we knew it. Even as a teenager I knew this.

I liked Ford but questioned the wisdom of pardoning Nixon. It might have been very healthy for people to see a president being held legally accountable for his misconduct. Ironically, I don't question Ford's motive for pardoning Nixon as being a move to close the chapter on Watergate. I believe he thought that to be the best decision. Many did not share that view, of course.

In 1977 while a college student I got to have lunch with Jimmy Carter along with about twenty-five other people. It was interesting. Two decades later, I was attending a Broadway revival of "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" and in the coat check area was ex-President Gerald Ford and his friend/colleague Henry Kissinger. I was trying to figure out whether Ford was very, very tall or Kissinger was extremely short. I do remember wishing that Ford's good looking son, Jack, was there. He was not. Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Kissinger were, of course.

I admire Ford for standing with his wife during her bout with alcoholism, her own work in setting up a clinic and encouraging those with the disease to take back their lives through treatment. Living with an alcoholic is wretched business.

And so now Gerald Ford has died. I just saw a photo of Betty Ford looking on her husband's coffin and feeling so sad for her. How hard it is to grieve in peace when you are someone like that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Nance...That was my first vote, too, and I cast it for Gerald Ford. Even then, before time proved him right, I thought the pardon was the right thing to do, the only way to not become hopelessly bogged down in legal proceedings. That pardon has always been considered responsible for his election defeat, but I think that all really came down to his being much too decent a man for the political crap. I am glad he lived to see time and Bill Clinton prove him right.

Nancy (McK)