Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Passing of a President

It is reported that our former President Gerald Ford has died in his Rancho Mirage home at the age of 93, after a long illness. Unique as the only unelected U.S.President, Vice President Ford was sworn in when President Richard Nixon resigned early in his second term. Nixon had appointed Ford when the elected Vice President, Spiro Agnew, resigned in disgrace. Ford served out the balance of Nixon's term and ran, unsuccessfully, for a full term, losing narrowly to Jimmy Carter.

So much for the dry facts. Gerald Ford was, by all accounts, a thoroughly decent man, or as decent as a politician can be while getting reelected repeatedly. I remember him as a President who used the veto freely. His greatest accomplishment was to begin to bring respect back to the office of President. This process languished under President Carter and was completed under President Ronald Reagan.

His most famous act was pardoning former President Nixon for any wrongful acts arising out of the Watergate scandal. I remember being very disappointed that Nixon didn't have to stand trial; a feeling like having tickets to a concert which is cancelled. A Nixon trial would have been a grand spectacle, very entertaining. Hindsight suggests that Ford did the right thing, although it was unpopular at the time.

Rest in peace, Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States of America.