Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006

Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006: History Buzz Special Edition

GERALD R. FORD, 1913-2006:

Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006: History Buzz Special Edition

    News and OP-EDs

  • TV Coverage: Douglas Brinkley will contribute to CBS News’ coverage and Michael Beschloss will to commentate on NBC’s Today Show – Orlando Sentinel, FL, 12-28-06
  • Richard Norton Smith: Former Dole Institute director expected to give Ford eulogy Citizens pay tribute to late president – Lawrence Journal World, KS, 12-29-06
  • Doug Wead: Gerald R. Ford: A Story of Inspiration –, FL, 12-27-06
  • Michael Beschloss: Ford’s Long Shadow An unlikely president, Gerald Ford steadied America and, in an unpublished interview, mused about her fate – Newsweek, 1-8-07
  • Michael Barone: Jerry Ford in History – US News & World Report, 12-31-06
  • Quotes on Ford’s Passing

  • Douglas Brinkley: “He was so relaxed. He’d fill up the pipe and light it and start talking to you. He’d look you right in the eye. What I always though about President Ford, after interviewing him these number of times, was that any police officer who talked to him would leave and say, this guy’s got nothing to hide… He said, ‘I got really far doing a few things, which was work hard, always tell the truth and show up for dinner on time. That’s all I’ve done my life and I’ve made it to the white house.'” – CBS 42, TX, 12-27-06
  • Douglas Brinkley: “Gerald Ford when he left Washington to head out to Rancho Mirage, after he said goodbye to people he didn’t ask the helicopter to be, to fly around the White House. He said with tears, fly it around the Capitol one more time. He was always a Congressional man.” – KHOU, TX, 12-27-06
  • Jim Kratsas, deputy director of the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. on “Ford fit the bill in post-Watergate America”: “He came in during a Constitutional crisis and within less than two years, our country came from being down at a low point in our country’s history to celebrating its bicentennial. He took the helm of this country and took us down the path to forgetting Watergate.” – Norwich Bulletin, 12-27-06
  • Douglas Brinkley: He was a normal guy. He never wanted to be president. He was never trying to get a legacy. He didn’t try to spin history to make himself look better. The remarkable achievement of his post-presidency is that his ego was under control.” – Vail Daily News, CO, 12-29-06
  • Richard Norton Smith on Gerald Ford’s and Jimmy Carter post-presidential friendship: “There was that kind of comfortable back and forth. It extended to the wives and the families, and it became this very nice, autumnal reconciliation, which blossomed into a real friendship.” – NYT, 12-29-06
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony: Ford served as “a balance point between the increasingly conservative wing of the Republican Party and the more liberal wing. He was always seeking middle ground.” – USA Today, 12-27-06
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony on Anderson Cooper 360 discussing Gerald and Betty Ford’s marriage and bond: “On that day he inherited the presidency, when Nixon resigned, he immediately mentioned and thanked his wife in his speech, and basically said he has no obligation to anyone except one person, his wife. And that was unprecedented….
    He certainly was a man who had absolutely no reservations about kissing his wife in public. And I think, as president, that was really unprecedented. — CNN, 12-27-06
  • Carl Sferrazza Anthony on Betty Ford “Back in View, a First Lady With Her Own Legacy”: “The impact of her influence on the general public extended beyond her tenure in the White House. It was a situation of somebody coming along in history who, in simply being themselves, ends up crystallizing something that the nation at large is feeling.” – NYT, AP, 12-31-06
  • Yanek Mieczkowski on “Ford fit the bill in post-Watergate America”: “He liked to say the type of example he wanted to show in the White House was his own behavior. He did not see the press as his enemy, as Nixon did. His press conferences marked a dramatic departure from the defensive and tense press conferences of the Nixon years. Ford lacked that kind of national base and he wasn’t loved like (Ronald) Reagan was loved. But Ford was not a polarizing president. He used the presidency to unite the American people. One of his favorite sayings was, ‘I have many adversaries in Washington, but I have no enemies.'” – Norwich Bulletin, 12-27-06
  • Ellen Fitzpatrick on PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer: “Gerald Ford came into office with a great deal of goodwill, a feeling of great relief that the republic was going to endure this constitutional crisis, that the system worked, that we were a government of laws, rather than of men, and that law would prevail, decency and goodness.
    One month into his presidency, Ford made the decision to pardon Richard Nixon of any crimes that he might be guilty of. And very rapidly that goodwill evaporated.
    It was a very difficult decision for him to make. He wrote about it. It’s been analyzed at length since, and it’s a controversial one. His standing in the polls absolutely plummeted.
    There was enormous suspicion that a deal had been made, that he had been — you know, that Nixon’s resignation had been extracted in exchange for this pardon. And all of the paranoia — some of it based in real concerns — that was part of Watergate settled upon Ford.
    It was a very difficult decision. In retrospect, he’s been praised for his courage and foresight by many in making it; other people still feel that it was a mistake.” – Newshour, 12-27-06
  • Richard Norton Smith on PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer: “[President Ford} has said many times that he expected that it would be unpopular; I don’t think he really had an idea that it was going to be as unpopular.
    The next day he flew to Pittsburgh, and he spoke to a convention, and outside the hall were demonstrators chanting, “Jail Ford.” He certainty didn’t expect that.
    But, remember, however, he had already gotten a taste of that. The pardon of Richard Nixon, in my opinion, should not be seen in isolation. It’s the second act of a two-act drama, because two weeks before the pardon, he got in a plane and he flew to Chicago to the VFW convention.
    And as part of this healing process, he basically unveiled a Vietnam amnesty plan that would, in time, allow 200,000 young men who had evaded the draft to, as he put it, work their way back into American society.
    He said laughingly on the way out that at least he didn’t have to worry about too much interruption by applause, and it turned out that the speech was not well-received.” – Newshour, 12-27-06
  • Richard Norton Smith on PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer: “This was a guy who never expected to be president, who decided from the outset that, however long or short a time he was there, it was going to be a season — if he could make it — of healing, and he would draw the poisons out of the body politic….
    Remember, at that point, he had no intention of running in 1976. So he could — in a sense, he could offer himself up. Now, he very quickly decided he kind of liked being president, and he’d like to have four years on his own.” — Newshour, 12-27-06
  • Michael Beschloss on PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer: I think it was noble, because he knew that this was the price of doing the two things that probably were most important for him to do as president, which were to wind up Watergate as quickly as possible, and do the same with the Vietnam era.
    If that’s what it cost, if it meant that he would have a hard time winning election in 1976, that was the price he was willing to pay.” – Newshour, 12-27-06
  • Richard Norton Smith on PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer: “There’s a wonderful story that sums it up, for me at least, George McGovern told me about early in the Ford presidency. He was invited to a stag dinner at the White House. Well, he’d never been invited to dinner at the White House. And he was so surprised that first he thought it must have been a mistake.
    And he said this to the president. And he said, you know, “When Lyndon Johnson was here and I opposed him on Vietnam, you can be sure I was never invited. And when Richard Nixon was here, you can be sure I was never invited.” And Ford said, “I know, George; that’s why I invited you.”
    And I think that kind of just plain decency and ability to see people not as political caricatures or ideological creatures, but as human beings, I think that is something that a lot of us feel has been lost. And Gerald Ford symbolizes the best of that era.” – Newshour, 12-27-06
  • Quotes on Ford’s Legacy

  • Yanek Mieczkowski, Dowling College: Ford’s pardon “weakened his political capital and made Democrats more willing to resist him…the pardon was like a “ghost that hung over Ford and his party for the rest of the decade.” – WZZM, MI, 12-26-06
  • Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia: “Ford looks better and better in history. He really was a president who brought us together at a very difficult time. He succeeded Richard Nixon. The presidency was at a low point. The country was at a low point. And, just through his sheer decency, and the fact that he was so well liked by [both parties], he actually did bring the country together, even though people disagreed about his pardon of President Nixon, and disagreeing about the end of the Vietnam War and all kinds of other things.” – Voice of America, 12-29-06
  • John Robert Greene: “Gerald Ford was the least affecting, the least image-controlled president, the most genuine president, I think, of the 20th century. What you saw was what you got.” – Voice of America, 12-29-06
  • Stephen Hess, a political scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington: “The nation could not have stood the battering that a court trial would have produced for months, if not years. Had he not pardoned Nixon, given how close the election ultimately turned out to be, he was likely to have defeated Jimmy Carter. His legacy was important in allowing the nation to get over a very rough period of time, and move forward with some dispatch and some real civility. He was a decent man, an honorable man when the nation really did need a person like that.” – Voice of America, 12-29-06
  • Sean Wilentz, Princeton University scholar: “Ford will probably be remembered — too generously, I think — as the man who settled the country down after the ‘long national nightmare’ of Watergate. I would say that Ford ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack. He was a modest, good-natured man of center-right views, often open to compromise. All the calm, good intentions in the world could not salvage his efforts to govern from the middle, or keep the harder-edged forces he brought in, notably Donald Rumsfeld and his associate, Dick Cheney, from maneuvering the administration to the right.Ford tried his best, determined not to fail — but the political realities in post-Watergate America were too disturbed — and singular — to secure the moderate mandate he sought.” — AP, 12-30-06
  • Douglas Brinkley: “After his death, fathers were able to turn to their kids and say, ‘That was a good man.’ You can’t say that about a lot of politicians.” – AP, 12-30-06
  • David Greenberg: “In some ways, the closest model to Ford would be Eisenhower. He was less of a leader than Eisenhower, but they were both kind of caretaking presidents. They were both conservative, but not right-wing ideologues.” – AP, 12-30-06
  • John Robert Greene, a Ford biographer and historian at Cazenovia College: “Ford dug in his heels as best he could to stop the erosion of presidential power.” – NYT, 12-30-06
  • Richard Reeves, Historian reverses criticism of Ford Later scandals show pardoning Nixon was the right decision: “Presidents aren’t paid by the hour. We pay them for their judgment on the one or two big decisions they make. On the biggest decision in his presidency, Gerald Ford got it right. He said that if Nixon was being dragged from one courtroom to another in different civil and criminal actions, that’s the only thing the country would focus on, and the country would have been impossible to govern…. But over the years, with what happened with O.J. Simpson and Monica Lewinsky, he’s been proven right. I think he showed vision and judgment. There’s no way anybody would have paid attention to anything else.” – The Orange County Register, 12-28-06
  • Douglas Brinkley on CBS’ The Early Show on “Ford Lived To See Nixon Pardon Vindicated”: “About when he turned 90, (Ford) started inviting historians to Rancho Mirage (Calif.), people like myself. Bob Woodward started saying the pardon was a good thing. Richard Reeves, a journalist who was his fiercest critic, started saying the pardon was a good thing. And Ted Kennedy said it was a good thing. There became this sort of overwhelming feeling of liberals that this conservative Midwesterner had done the right thing in pardoning Nixon. That’s when the revisionism kicked off, and now we’re seeing the kind of second phase of it…
    Ford was “the furthest thing from a legacy monger. His view was, history didn’t owe him anything. He was a man who loved his country, did his job, pardoned Nixon, got us out of Vietnam, did a few other important things along the way. … Now, in death, people are recognizing how unusual he was. I think part of the reason we’re embracing him is we’ve become such a polarized society. Democrats and Republicans are fighting so much. And, here’s a centrist, we’re kind of honoring this smart, Midwest centrist.
    It bothered him enough that he wanted to get back in the game after he left the White House in 1977. From ’77 to ’80, he kept eyeing the presidency. He kept thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll go for it again.’ And, in fact, at the Republican convention in Detroit in 1980, he was talked about as the vice president for Ronald Reagan.” – CBS News, 1-2-07
  • Quotes on Ford’s State Funeral

  • Douglas Brinkley on funeral ceremonies for President Gerald Ford: “I think this funeral is being planned just the way Gerald Ford anticipated and planned it himself, which is to keep things low-keyed. Don’t overdo my greatness.” – WLNS, MI, 12-29-06
  • Gil Troy: Video Coverage of the Ford State Funeral on CTV, 1-2-07 – Low Bandwidth High Bandwidth

Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 4:30 PM

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