What was the reaction in March of 1901 when Benjamin Harrison died? I can only surmise that few people knew about it, and fewer cared. Did the public get a holiday? Was the mail delivered? How about another Ford-esque type of president, Franklin Pierce? When he passed away in October of 1869, do you think the media fawned over his legacy? Did the newspapers suggest that he had saved the nation with that critical Gadsden Purchase?
I am sure Gerald Ford was a pleasant and honorable man. And he has had the good fortune to die with George W. Bush as the sitting president. Who wouldn't want to be compared to George Bush? Yes, even Benjamin Harrison and Franklin Pierce are starting to look good. At least neither of them attempted to strip the citizenry of its habeas corpus rights.
When are we, as a nation, going to stop acting as though ex-presidents deserve to be put on pedestals? The fact is, most of our presidents have been nothing short of political hacks. Most have been unimaginative, unintellectual yes-men who ascended to the office because more powerful people sought malleable stooges to carry out their deeds. And again, maybe most of our presidents have been nice men (all white males of course), who had perfect families and went to church every Sunday. So what!
The Nixon pardon did not "save the nation" as we are hearing from the chattering classes. The country was just fine when Nixon boarded that plane and left Washington. Yet, a strong case can be made that the pardon was a mistake. And let's not forget, Gerald Ford was also a key member of the infamous Warren Commission--that "stellar" group that was supposed to examine and solve the Kennedy assassination. Ford and the Warren Commission solved nothing--and in the process, allowed the CIA, FBI, and other "national security" agencies to cover-up information, lie, and hide facts about that 1963 murder. And while you are further scrutinizing the Ford administration, please look into East Timor, where the underhanded machinations of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have indirectly led to thousands of deaths there in the last 30 years.
Can't we celebrate this man's life without all the hype and spin? Why all the press coverage? Here is a thought......maybe some people don't want us to be thinking about Iraq. Are things going bad there or something?
Here's to Gerald R. Ford......and Benajmin Harrison, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur, William H. Taft, Calvin Coolidge, and Millard Fillmore. May all of our nondescript, mediocre ex-presidents get a postage stamp or something so we can remember them as a group.