Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ford's Gift To Us All

Unlike the former Presidents who live on forgetting that that is exactly what they are - former Presidents - Gerald Ford quietly lived his years post-White House without the need to direct government from the back seat.

Ford came to power under the most dubious of reasons after President Richard Nixon was impeached following the Watergate scandal and he was elevated from his position of Vice President to lead a country torn apart by years of war and civil unrest. But the act of power that Ford was most known for was one of his last before leaving office - not for any reason so universally stellar as bringing world peace or even decidedly bipartisan by winning social and economic reforms through Congress - he will forever be remembered for the act of forgiveness by pardoning Nixon. At the time Ford's decision created nearly as much controversy and news as the revelations of Nixon's misuse of power brought to light during the impeachment hearings.

Having left office and retiring as gracefully as humanly possibly given the circumstances of living the rest of ones life with a Secret Service detail assigned to you and museums established in your name, Ford did something that his fellow former Presidents have never been able to accomplish. He kept his mouth shut and his opinions to himself on how the seated President and Congress were conducting themselves.

Ford did not try to quarterback from the couch and resolve issues he would have liked to have bettered after office as his fellow ex-Presidents appear so prone to do. Ford did not trash Reagan when he lost the intraparty nod for re-election, he didn't belittle Carter for his inept handling of the Iranian hostage situation, he didn't second guess Bush Sr. for embattling us in Iraq, he didn't lecture Clinton on his morals for eluding that oral sex wasn't sex at all (an act that nearly got him impeached), he spoke no words of criticism against Bush Jr. for yet again launching the US into war. Ford said relatively nothing during the long years after he left the Presidency. His opinions after office weren't newsworthy because of his ability to gracefully not give one.

Ford gave us a gift beyond the words or acts of those he shared office with. He did not create more controversy or division by offering his post-office solution to the dealings of those who followed him. He was, in the very highest sense of the term, a true gentleman. Ford gave us the simple tongue-biting gift of silence.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 8:50 AM