Gerald Ford (1913-2006)

Former President Gerald Ford died today at the age of 93, reports his wife Betty. News is still sketchy about the exact cause and circumstances.

Ford is the only President to never have been elected as either President or Vice-President. He took over as Vice-President after the resignation of Spiro Agnew, and then became President when Richard Nixon was forced to resign following the Watergate scandal.

Ford was the oldest of the living ex-presidents and he has requested a state funeral and a burial at his presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

43 Responses to “Gerald Ford (1913-2006)”

  1. matt Says:

    Ford was well below average, even for a mainstream politician, but he’ll always have a soft spot in my heart since he was an offensive lineman for the University of Michigan Wolverines.

  2. Darcy Richardson Says:

    I once had an opportunity to speak with President Ford in a professional capacity long after he left the White House. He was a very friendly and down-to-earth sort of guy—- no pretenses or sense of self-importance about him.

    My fondest memory of him, however, occured about a quarter of a century after his presidency when he was participating in a panel discussion on the Vietnam War with former Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy, the 1968 anti-war candidate. During their panel discussion, Ford referred to McCarthy as “a true hero.” He also joked that he wished McCarthy had been on the New York ballot in 1976. McCarthy, of course, ran for president as an independent that year, but was ruthlessly knocked off the New York ballot by the Democrats. Ford apparently believed that he might have defeated Jimmy Carter if the Democrats hadn’t treated McCarthy so shabbily in the Empire State.

    Gerald Ford was a good and decent man and served his country honorably.

    They sure don’t make Republicans like him anymore.

  3. Timothy West Says:

    no neo con was Gerald Ford. How far down the RP has gone. ( and the rest of the nation to match)

  4. Eric Dondero Says:

    There’s an argument to be made that Roger MacBride, 1976 Libertarian Party Presidential candidate may have cost Ford the election. Roger received 180,000 votes that year.

    I served as Roger’s Personal Political Aide from 1991 to his death in 1995.

    The stories he told about that 1976 race, and his partnership with Eugene McCarthy in particular were hilarious.

    Roger and McCarthy actually had a plane mishap with a Cessna while traveling together. More like a crash.

    If one assumes that a large percentage of votes for Roger and McCarthy (who got 800,000 votes) came out of the Ford column, that could have swung it to Carter.

    Eric at www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

  5. Stuart Richards Says:

    Kind of a lackluster President but way better than the neocons, that’s for certain. And I feel bad for the dude’s family.

  6. Tom Bryant Says:

    Stuart,

    I don’t know about you, but I think a lack luster President is the best type of President. Presidential luster always seems to screw over the average guy.

  7. paulie cannoli Says:

    If one assumes that a large percentage of votes for Roger and McCarthy (who got 800,000 votes) came out of the Ford column, that could have swung it to Carter.

    That’s a big assumption…

    McBride’s votes maybe, but McCarthy’s? That sounds like a bit of a stretch.
    I was still living in Russia then, but from what I read afterward the headline “Ford to NYC: Drop Dead” the day before the election is what swung it to Carter. I think.

    I’d rather have a white house resident like Ford or Carter than one like Bush Jr. or even Clinton. I don’t really mind having a white house resident who stumbles and makes dee dee dee comments, or one who has a goofy grin.

    Way better than having one who bombs aspirin and baby formula factories in third world countries to deflect attention away from where he put his cigar, and way way way better than having one who steals two elections, bombs the twin towers, enagages in torture, declares himself above the law….anyway, there’s so much more to say on that one and it’s off topic….

    Getting back to our fond memories of a less toxic time in American politics,
    Gerald Ford once said “I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln”.

    So long as we have a Cesar on the Potomac – especially one with his or her finger on the button – we can only hope to have more Fords, and fewer Lincolns (or Clintons or especially Bushes).

  8. paulie cannoli Says:

    I don’t know about you, but I think a lack luster President is the best type of President. Presidential luster always seems to screw over the average guy.

    Exactly.

  9. Nigel Watt Says:

    Gerald Ford seems like he was a decent guy, whose policies I disagree with, but hey, as paulie said, far better than Bush or Clinton.

    As for lackluster – Calvin Coolidge is my favorite president.

  10. Anthony Distler Says:

    Calvin Coolidge was the man.

    And as far as Ford goes, I think the man has been given a bad rep. Sure, he was the only unelected president in the US, but he has a long Congressional career, and many political scolars will remember him more for his House tenure then his Presidency.

    Also, he helped heal a nation plagued by Watergate.

  11. paulie cannoli Says:

    Juan Cole on Gerald Ford’s foreign policy. An excerpt:

    All presidents make errors, and some abuses occurred on Ford’s watch, though they often were initiated by Kissinger. But Ford faced with no illusions the challenges of his era, of detente with the Soviet Union, continued attempts to cultivate China, the collapse of Indochina, the fall-out of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, and the beginnings of the Lebanese Civil War. Ford was right about detente, right about China, right about Arab-Israeli peace, right about avoiding a big entanglement in Angola, right to worry about nuclear proliferation (one of his worries was the increasing evidence that the Middle East had a nuclear power, Israel, and India was moving in that direction).

    On the other hand, he should not have pardoned Nixon and company.

  12. paulie cannoli Says:

    Whoops, that’s at

    http://www.juancole.com/2006/12/ford-and-foreign-policy-snapshots-from.html

  13. Donald R. Lake] Says:

    I was a ‘Ford guy’ until one nano second after the Nixon Pardon!

  14. Darcy Richardson Says:

    “So long as we have a Cesar on the Potomac – especially one with his or her finger on the button – we can only hope to have more Fords, and fewer Lincolns (or Clintons or especially Bushes).”

    Superbly stated, Paulie!

  15. torah Says:

    Ford helped cover up the JFK murder. He was sitting on the Warren Commission.

    Stop with the love affair of this guy. He went to the grave knowing LBJ had a hand in JFK’s murder. And he helped cover it up.

  16. George Whitfield Says:

    Gerald Ford was the last major party Presidential candidate I voted for.

  17. matt Says:

    I think what’s getting expressed on this board is more “muted admiration” than “love affair”. I’d rather have Ford for a neighbor than a any of the “great presidents”.

  18. Phil Sawyer Says:

    Jimmy Carter just barely won the 1976 presidential election; any number of a couple of small things could have changed the results. The bottom line is that the Democratic Party has not won an election on the national level (for president and vice president, that is) in an essentially two person race since 1964. (Unless you count 1976; one could almost say that that election was pretty much of a two person race because of the establishment national news media blackout of the McCarthy campaign.)

    In the Summer of 2004, while refusing to make any predictions of the final outcome of the presidential election, I did write a few times that the Donkey Party might just get lucky. They did come close, in the end. For 2008, they will have much more than mere luck going for them. They will have the continuing decline of the Republican Party – which will never elect another President of the United States. Bye, bye to Imperialism (RIP: 1860 to 2006)!

    Time for the independent movement to get it together! Why should we allow the Democrats to have all the goodies?

    Speaking of Presidents who never got much credit, I will mention the name of James Buchanan. The establishment historians do not like him because he kept the country at peace. Heaven forbid!

  19. Richard Winger Says:

    Even if all the voters who voted for Eugene McCarthy had instead voted for Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter would still have won. Of course that’s not a likely scenario anyway. And Roger MacBride’s votes, if given to either major party nominee, would not have changed the outcome in any state.

  20. paulie cannoli Says:

    Bye, bye to Imperialism (RIP: 1860 to 2006)!

    I wish we could write its epitaph, but the DLC leadership are imperialists too. Hillary wants more troops in Iraq and an invasion of Iran. Obama is opposed to a timetable for withdrawal.

    And saying the Republicans are done as a party is like saying the same in 1974, or even 1964 (if the Democrats go on to win the Presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress). Maybe, but it will take a lot more evidence than we have so far.

  21. trannguyent Says:

    “He went to the grave knowing LBJ had a hand in JFK’s murder. And he helped cover it up.”

    Pfft.

  22. matt Says:

    I wish we could write its epitaph, but the DLC leadership are imperialists too. Hillary wants more troops in Iraq and an invasion of Iran. Obama is opposed to a timetable for withdrawal.
    ========================================
    Question of the day:
    How can we as third party people expose how pro-war the Democrats are when the chips are down?

  23. paulie cannoli Says:

    How can we as third party people expose how pro-war the Democrats are when the chips are down?

    It’s a major challenge. Just like getting people to understand that Republicans are not the party of smaller government. A look at Bush’s spending record – with a Republican Congress, no less – should suffice, yet somehow people still make this mistake. Or, for that matter, a little research into the actual performance of Republicans in office ever since the beginning, all rhetoric aside.

    My own prescription is basically for the Libertarians to emphasize peace and civil liberties issues to overcome the perception that we are “far right Republicans who really mean it”; becoming more activist-oriented; bringing in more young people, and more creative people to spread our message visually, musically and in other ways besides just dry logic; becoming more socioecomically diverse in all manner of ways, to be more welcoming to people from all segment of society. And learning the practical tools of real world politics. If growth ever does happen, internal education has to take place too, to keep the party from losing all cohesion.

    This is what I’m hoping will happen with the Kubby campaign

    http://www.kubby.com/

  24. Timothy West Says:

    And saying the Republicans are done as a party is like saying the same in 1974, or even 1964 (if the Democrats go on to win the Presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress). Maybe, but it will take a lot more evidence than we have so far.

    what it will take is a split. I think there’s a damn good chance of that happening. The Neo Cons are undermining the entire party. At some point thats not going to hang.
    When it splits, look out. The Whigs, part 2.

  25. paulie cannoli Says:

    Tim

    what it will take is a split. I think there’s a damn good chance of that happening. The Neo Cons are undermining the entire party. At some point thats not going to hang. When it splits, look out. The Whigs, part 2.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    In 1933, FDR caused a great rift within the Democrats by moving away from the relatively smaller government platform (vis-a-vis Whigs and Republicans) on which he – and most Democrats going back to the party’s founding – ran.

    1928 DP candidate Al Smith and many others balked, yet the DP did not come crashing down.

    Likewise, many Republicans before WWII and even shortly thereafter were isolationists, yet the NSGOP did not fall or falter when pro-war elements took over.

    Many more traditional middle-of-the road Republicans were quite unhappy as the “Reagan Revolution” led to the takeover of NSGOP by hardcore far right socially conservative elements alongside the Dixiecrats who left the DP after that party stopped supporting segregation.

    There are other examples of realignment within the major parties.

    You have to remember that back when the Whigs collapsed the political parties did not have as much history. They did not have as much money and power blocs lined up behind them. The government for control of which they fought was by far a lot smaller, in population, in real dollar spending per capita, in regulatory reach – there is little comparison with what exists now.

    Nor were the major political parties of that time quasi-governmental organizations, like the ones today.

    They did not have government-sponsored primaries and conventions; they were not regulated or funded by the FEC.

    In fact, back then the government did not even print the ballots: the ballots were printed BY the parties, distributed to their supporters in a raucous and somewhat chaotic manner (see: Gangs of New York), and voting was public – there was no secret ballot.

    So, perhaps a large chunk of “small government conservatives” will leave the NSGOP but that hardly means the party’s over.

    Nor do I think they are the bloc we should be courting with LP expansion, even though that is what’s actually been happening and will continue to happen.

    The only answer I can think of is to bring in more people from the left with the Kubby campaign to counterbalance their influence.

    More, if you care to read it:

    http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2006/12/28/tried-to-post-this-as-a-comment-no-dice/

    http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2006/12/28/wtf-is-our-ex-vp-candidate-doing/

  26. Phil Sawyer Says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Kubby, whom I know very little about, I think that the chances of the Libertarian Party gaining significant ground will be more enhanced by the coming demise of the Republican Party. It will be due to the fact that more and more people like Bob Barr are thinking about making a change in party registration.

    Make no mistake about it. The party is over for the GOP: By 2012 (as I have been predicting for a few years now), the Republican Party will be a minor-sized organization. Timothy West is right on the money about the fact that the GOP establishment will eventually try to stop the neo-conservatives from undermining the party. At the present time, many of the fiscal conservatives (who are opposed to the religious right) are gravitating toward Rudy. While Senator McCain woos the pro-war, Bush II neo-conservatives, and the religious right makes a lot of noise as usual with candidates like Sam Brownback, the Old Guard Establishment (what is left of it) will be trying to sew things up with the former mayor of the Big Apple.

    It is quite likely that there will be splits in the Republican Party, also (as Timothy probably suspected). When the block that contains the Wallace People and the Reagan Democrats breaks off (as is already starting to happen), that will mark the beginning of the end.

    Paulie is correct about the role that the Democrats have played in imperialism. Imperialism did not start with the GOP and it may not end with it completely. But “the writing is on the wall.” Monopoly Capitalism and Imperialism have already played their expected parts in history and the time for a new era has dawned. The two major parties in this country have just been the coat holders for the Imperial Machine. Neither party may survice the end of Imperialism but the Republicans are going to go down first. (Thanks to the Bush-Cheney Administration, the neo-conservative movement, and the corruption of the party from the top all the way down.)

  27. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I think all this talk about either party’s death is extremely premature. The GOP is somewhat fractured now, but no where near the kind of self-destruct state that some people here are wishing for.

    Even if some sort of a split did occur, odds are that it wouldn’t be of much benefit to Libertarians. Instead, the Center and the Right would fight for control. One side would win and elements of the other side would break away and back a totally new third party or an independent Presidential campaign. That would split the vote and elect lots of Democrats (think 1912) and within a few years, the gravitational pull of the established parties would reabsorb all of the “mess” that had been created.

    The only way to build a political party is to build it… brick by brick by brick. Hoping for a miracle quick-fix is a waste of time. A party needs more than ideas and a platform to thrive… it needs manpower, money, experienced leaders, qualified candidates, money, infrastructure, branding, money, and infrastructure and all that other “real world” stuff. and yes, I said money three times and infrastructure twice. Those are really important elements.

    Political parties are like computer operating systems. You have a couple of big ones, and the software gravitates to them.

    You can’t just sit down and program a new operating system, release it, and expect it to thrive because it works a little faster or cleaner. You need to provide people with reasons to switch. You need to give people software and support and a community of users. It takes tons of money and lots of time and effort and infrastructure. Otherwise you’re just creating a product and then saying: “Windows is terrible and everyone is starting to wake up to that fact… I can feel it. And when they all do, then they’ll come crawling to me.”

  28. paulie cannoli Says:

    Austin: bingo!

  29. Timothy West Says:

    the LP can be a credible choice, but it has to choose that path. I’m much more optimistic about the GOP breaking into 2 or 3 parts because even today, with crap “journalism” and the elite backers, crime is still crime. I think when the evidence comes out what Bush and Cheney have done, the neo cons and the northeastern country club wing of the he party are going to split, with all the christians being the third bloc.

    We need much more left wing in the LP, but to do that we have to adopt some policy in regard to what the left wing cares about. Stuff like pollution, the commons, ownership of natural resources and the disposal of same for the benefit of regular people, not corporations.

    a balanced left – right approach with personal individual freedom in the middle for the average man is the party of the future.

  30. paulie cannoli Says:

    Tim – what do you think of Kubby’s paper on the environment and energy?

    http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=107509135&blogID=207756301

    There’s also this

    http://knappster.blogspot.com/2006/12/libertarians-warm-up-to-environmental.html

  31. Timothy West Says:

    hard for me to take any LP presidential candidate seriously. it only makes sense if the person uses the race as a funding springboard for our lower level races. his positions could be the bestest evar, but it does not matter. we have to build the lp’s support and candidate base first.

    we cannot even begin to win the office. but we can put the party into good shape and have a number of credible down ticket candidates for the ‘10 and ‘12 contests.
    we can also work on further broadening our platform for more left right balance while using personal individualist freedom as the policy means.

    and we seriously need media money for TV across the entire party, but mostly for state level candidates.

  32. paulie cannoli Says:

    I just asked what you thought about the paper.

    The campaign as a whole is a separate issue.

    If a local candidate wanted to adapt that paper, do you think it would be an effective way of addressing those issues – one that would help expand our base?

  33. Timothy West Says:

    a local? no probably not. energy is generally at least a state level issue I think. How local is local?

  34. paulie cannoli Says:

    Oh Lord.

    Pick a level. Not the issue. Whatever level it applies at.

    Look at the papers. See what you think, of its propaganda value and/or the value of the ideas presented.

    If you decide you want to share your opinion, I wouldn’t mind. If you don’t, I won’t keep asking.

  35. Timothy West Says:

    I’ll look at it more on Sunday and give you some more detail. I’m in the middle of my last round of chemo and I feel like shit and probably not in the best of thought. (in case you didnt notice, duh)

  36. paulie cannoli Says:

    Yeah, I feel pretty crappy too.

    Bronchitis, maybe pneumonia – hopefully not tuberculosis.

    Other stuff too.

    But I’m glad it’s not chemo.

    Hope you feel better.

  37. Timothy West Says:

    thanks. lots of side effects lately – I O’d on my anti seizure drugs becuase I lost 100 pounds of weight and that made hospital stay number 5, but just a overnighter. Of course they never adjusted the dosage since I got out of surgery 100 pounds ago. Stupid doctors.

    I’m getting ready to take it right now and go to bed. If I can get to sleep quick I can make it without ralfing. bucket by the bed. nite.

  38. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Glad to hear it’s the last round of chemo for you, Tim… how are things looking overall?

  39. Phil Sawyer Says:

    A major point that you have missed, Austin, is that political parties are merely part of the overall superstructure of society. As our society, which is based upon monopoly capitalism and imperialism, goes through the dramtic changes that are taking place because of the ending of one epoch and the beginning of a new one, those political parties are bound to be changed as well. Do you really think that the two major parties are going to last forever as major-sized organizations?

    Timothy is right on the money once again. The Country Club wing of the GOP is simply not going to put up with the neo-conservatives running the party into the ground. They are going to fight back and they are going to try to regain control. You are going to see a three-way race for the presidential nomination between these factions: (a) the Country Club wing (which I also refer to as part of the Old Guard), led by Rudy Guilani; (b) the Neo-Conservatives, led by Senator John McCain; and© the Religious Right, led by Senator Sam Brownback. Other (smaller) factions will be involved, too: (d) the Neo-Reformers, led by Senator Chuck Hagel; and (e) the Conservative Isolationists (also part of the Old Guard), led by Patrick Buchanan. It will be a real circus – evey single day! Watch for the leaders of all these groupings to make temporary deals and so forth. Remember the Reagan and Rockefeller joint attempt to stop Richard Nixon from taking a first ballot win at Miami Beach in 1968?

    You can be sure that the Libertarians in this chat room are not worried about your opinion of their chances. This is their best shot yet since 1980 (when the LP should have offered its nomination to Eugene McCarthy). If they do not go for it now, in a really big way, that will be the end of it – and I think that they know that. Meanwhile, on the left, we socialists will be making plenty of hay of our own!

  40. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Do I think the Republican and Democratic parties will last “forever”? No, of course not. Do I think they’re going to break apart any time soon? No.

    I’ll say it again… the only way to build a party is to BUILD IT.

    So what if there’s a split and some element of the GOP strikes off and tries to form another party? That doesn’t help the Libertarians and it won’t last more than a few cycles at best.

    If anything is going to happen in 2008, the Giuliani/McCain element of the GOP is going to win control of the party and the Keyes/Buchanan followers on the “hard-right” will bolt to the Constitution Party for a couple of years to show their displeasure.

    The major parties remain the major parties because they have infrastructure built up and down from the very tiny local levels to the national level… and that infrastructure generates lots of cash… the cash and infrastructure attract credible candidates to their primaries… they win 99.9% of all elections… and that’s that.

    And when I say infrastructure, I mean there must be 15 organized “Republican Clubs” in my county alone… there’s a vibrant group at the local University… the county party has a big office with lots of available space to assemble campaign materials, phone bank, etc.

    They have executive committee meetings at the county-level here that are attended by 100+ people every single month. I don’t even know that there’s a Libertarian Party organized in my county. If there is, I would be willing to guess that they have no associated clubs or other elements. They probably have next to no money in the bank. They almost never run candidates for office. And… if I had to bet money, they don’t have an office or paid staff. The meetings are probably monthly dinners at Denny’s or Applebee’s attended by 5 to 15 people who sit around and debate about writing letters to the governor to express their principled opinion on why property taxes should be eliminated.

  41. Phil Sawyer Says:

    “If anything is going to happen in 2008 … “: Of course something is going to happen in 2008, Austin, and (as always) there will be plenty of surprises.

    You are correct about the need for people to be consistent in building the party (whatever party he or she belongs to). We are in agreement on that. Some of us, though, have been working on that since the late 60’s and the early 70’s (or even before) and it has not done a lot of good so far. It also takes the right time in history for things to happen. Where the importance of party building comes in is that it is necessary to be well organized when that time finally does come around. That is something that I have been preaching over the decades but not many people are willing to listen.

    In any case, the next presidential election will be won by either an independent slate (perhaps Unity08), a “third party,” or the Democrats. The Republican Party is not going to go anywhere but down. They will put on a good show and perhaps even “go down in flames.” Down they will go in any event.

  42. matt Says:

    If the CP was unified and/or on the ball, they could run someone Libertarian-friendly, steal the conservative vote from the Republican party, and really shake things up. Since they’re too busy fighting over Mormons, however, I’ll probably be voting LP again. If we pick a good campaigner we might get 5%.

  43. Trent Hill Says:

    Ill be voting CP, unless they can’t get ballot qualified in my state. Then ill be voting LP.
    If neither….I write in “James Madison.”

Leave a Reply