I supported Ford in 1976. He was a decent man and the last of the moderate conservatives who believed more in freedom than power (think Eisenhower, not Reagan). He had the worst job in American history: Succeeding a criminal of his own party into office after having been appointed by that disgraced president to succeed another criminal. Imagine stepping into Spiro Agnew’s cesspool only to find yourself buried in Nixon’s historical craphouse.
Now that Ford is dead, we’re probably going to see the reenactment of the implosion he was handed, but this time by a president who has dug the hole where he is standing. A failed war, a failed realignment of the war effort, a failing economy built on profound misunderstandings of the competitiveness of nations, and much more. Ford deserved better, but took what was handed to him with grace, much more than our current decider-in-chief has demonstrated when called on to explain his own, not someone else’s, mistakes.
Ford fought the Reaganites, disappearing into history as the neocons rolled to power in 1980. He may have been the right man at some other time, but the times were going further right, bizarrely so. Perhaps he should not have pardoned Nixon, but I suspect there were few worse alternative histories than the political warfare over the corpse of Nixon’s career averted.
Thanks, Mr. Ford, for your service.
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