Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford, dead at 93

Former President Gerald Ford Dies
The Associated Press

Tuesday 26 December 2006

Los Angeles - Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Mrs. Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

The statement did not say where Ford died or list a cause of death. Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments - including an angioplasty - in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Ford was an accidental president, Nixon's hand-picked successor, a man of much political experience who had never run on a national ticket. He was as open and straight-forward as Nixon was tightly controlled and conspiratorial.

He took office minutes after Nixon flew off into exile and declared "our long national nightmare is over." But he revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976, but it won praise in later years as a courageous act that allowed the nation to move on.

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the U.S. during his presidency with the fall of Saigon in April 1975. In a speech as the end neared, Ford said: "Today, America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned." Evoking Abraham Lincoln, he said it was time to "look forward to an agenda for the future, to unify, to bind up the nation's wounds."

Ford also earned a place in the history books as the first unelected vice president, chosen by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew who also was forced from office by scandal.

He was in the White House only 895 days, but changed it more than it changed him.

Even after two women tried separately to kill him, the presidency of Jerry Ford remained open and plain.

Not imperial. Not reclusive. And, of greatest satisfaction to a nation numbed by Watergate, not dishonest.

Even to millions of Americans who had voted two years earlier for Richard Nixon, the transition to Ford's leadership was one of the most welcomed in the history of the democratic process - despite the fact that it occurred without an election.

After the Watergate ordeal, Americans liked their new president - and first lady Betty, whose candor charmed the country.

They liked her for speaking openly about problems of young people, including her own daughter; they admired her for not hiding that she had a mastectomy - in fact, her example caused thousands of women to seek breast examinations.

And she remained one of the country's most admired women even after the Fords left the White House when she was hospitalized in 1978 and admitted to having become addicted to drugs and alcohol she took for painful arthritis and a pinched nerve in her neck. Four years later she founded the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, a substance abuse facility next to Eisenhower Medical Center.

Ford slowed down in recent years. He had been hospitalized in August 2000 when he suffered one or more small strokes while attending the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

The following year, he joined former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton at a memorial service in Washington three days after the Sept. 11 attacks. In June 2004, the four men and their wives joined again at a funeral service in Washington for former President Reagan. But in November 2004, Ford was unable to join the other former presidents at the dedication of the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Ark.

In January, Ford was hospitalized with pneumonia for 12 days. He wasn't seen in public until April 23, when President Bush was in town and paid a visit to the Ford home. Bush, Ford and Betty posed for photographers outside the residence before going inside for a private get-together.

The intensely private couple declined reporter interview requests and were rarely seen outside their home in Rancho Mirage's gated Thunderbird Estates, other than to attend worship services at the nearby St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.

and i was NEVER able to think about him without thinking about Chevy Chase doing pratfalls.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goonzu Compendium

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was the last moderate Republican president. Since then the Republican Party has become an unrecognizable mess devoted to theocracy.

- oddjob

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Marcus said...

He had a hard job to do, trying to clean up after Nixon. The pardons were most likely his political albatross, but he was a good choice to follow the Nixon White House. I think by todays political spectrum, he'd be labelded a 'liberal republican', since that party has shifted so hard to the right. The Democrats had taken both the House and the Senate following the Nixon resignation. Challenged by Regan for the '76 republican ticket, he took hits for not doing enough to 'win' vietnam, among other things. Carter was seen as an ousider, and someone not tainted by Nixon or Watergate, winning only Presidential race Ford had been in. May President Gerald R. Ford rest in peace.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

IMHO, along with Carter, Ford was one of the 2 decent men to serve as president in my lifetime, and neither could manage reelection. Here's hoing his last days were comfortable, and his passing serene.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous horsedooty said...


I agree that he was probably a decent guy. He did have Cheney and Rumsfeld around and that bothers me.

yo soy Horsedooty!

8:15 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

I think he was a decent, honest man. I remember well his transparancy and openness. He held firm at times, like during the Mayaguez affair, which could have been usesd to reintroduce combat troops to Viet Nam. As far as 'winning' over there. That was never in the cards. Ghengis goddamn Khan couldn't have won there.

It's a shame that men of his type are now deemed "unelectable." Our only hope is that before they impeach bush they make an agnew style move on cheney. maybe they could nominate lincoln chafee for the v.p. slot.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

'dooty, what you said about Cheney & Rummy is true enough, but that was before their identities as the dark lords became known. MB, you are correct, my man - Cheney is the main reason we need to pray that Nancy's declaration that impeachment is not on the table is true. It's kind of one of those "it could be worse; it could be raining" things.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our only hope is that before they impeach bush they make an agnew style move on cheney. maybe they could nominate lincoln chafee for the v.p. slot.

The votes don't exist in the Senate for removal and that makes impeachment a moot issue. Were it not that way, I would hope the Congress would have the cojones to investigate everything thoroughly enough to show whether the Vice President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. This Vice President functions as a Chief of Staff, so it's very difficult for me to believe he's not committed such crimes. If investigations were able to produce convincing evidence of the Vice President's and President's guilt there's nothing preventing the Senate from trying both and removing both.

As I said - the votes are not in the Senate for removal. Unless I'm much mistaken there's no statute of limitations on war crimes, provided this asshole doesn't pardon himself and all others who may be vulnerable to prosecution a future administration might be able to review matters and effect justice then.

- oddjob

3:16 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

the way things stand right now, i don't think there's enough stomach for the process of an impeachment much less the votes. a brutal, fulbright style set of hearings would expose some of the worst excesses though. the shameless and vile profiteering by halliburton and its subsidieries. the "privitisation" of many things like mess halls and medical evacuations (done without any legal process, but, like most of this administration by decree) that are now suspect and substandard. bush could, indeed, pardon himself before leaving office, but not many people are aware of the fact that a sitting president also has the power to rescind pardons of previous presidents. it was something considered by madison, who wanted a personal chunk of flesh from burr and some of the revolution tories who had been granted pardon by monroe. things like double jeopardy would still apply. this was something that was brought up more than a little after the nixon pardon. people wondered, since there had never been a trial and the investigations faded away after the pardon, if carter would be ballsy enough to open that can of worms.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know that about rescinding pardons. Cool! (You have Madison & Monroe reversed, I think.)

- oddjob

2:04 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

you're right. those virginians can get confusing, all those byzantine relationships and stuff.

2:33 AM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Forget impeachment, arrest them!

5:00 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

oddjob, good point about the votes not being in the senate to convict. OK, so go ahead and impeach the bastard since Cheney won't become president.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

?? Impeachment is followed by trial in the Senate, so impeachment is moot. I'm with Minstrel Boy on this. Investigative hearings for now, and then see what happens (unless such hearings result in sufficiently widespread revulsion at the actions of the ShrubCo. nothing will happen - if they do result in enough revulsion, then we'll see).

- oddjob

8:57 AM  

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