Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Last Great President

I wasn't old enough to vote when Ford pardoned Nixon. I just figured it was part of a deal they'd worked out. I do remember being for Carter in '76. But Ford deserves some praise.

It is an eternal truth that, even in the case of Nixon, all presidents are great presidents once they are dead. We hear it in tributes and obituaries and revisionist eulogies for weeks on end. Ford deserves the title. He really does. This isn't just moist-eyed grief at the loss of someone I would never vote for and never support outside his role as commander in chief. He really was a great president. Can you imagine what would have happened is Spirow Agnew had succeded Nixon? Or Connoly? Or, for that matter, *any* democrat?

So now we are faced with all these warm obituaries for a dead president once again. People will note that Ford's two and a hlaf years were extremely eventful: the fall of Saigon, the Helsinki accords, Tonkin Gulf, the energy crisis, and the huge '70s recession. That's enough for anybody to deal with. They will also call him a great leader and a great man, etc. And he was. Ford is a strong argument for archetypes (or stereotypes). He, like Truman and Eisenhower (who, though born in Texas, was brought up in Abeline Kansas), was the true midwesterner. He was un-pretentious, simple, straightforward and honest. He wasn't a slick southerner like Clinton, a Hollywood insider like Regan (yes another midwesterner, but a Hollywood guy nonetheless) or a New England blue blood like the Bushes. He was a small town boy from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was straight out of Andy Hardy or Homer Price, and that is the kind of guy we needed at that moment in history. Argue all you want about the pardon (and there are good argumnets on both sides), it had the effect Ford wanted: it saved the country from a prosecution that would have paralyzed it for years to come. That's leadership in anybody's book.

But now that he's dead will we *finally* learn anymore about the Kenedy assassination, or do we have to wait for Arlen Specter to kick off? Of course, there may not be any more to learn, but that's another blog.


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