Tuesday, December 26, 2006

President Gerald Ford R.I.P.

Former President Gerald Ford has died at age 93. Betty Ford made the announcement this evening via a statement. He had been in declining health for some time.

Although I think Ford did our nation a grave disservice by granting an unconditional pardon to Richard Nixon, I always had a soft spot for him because he was the only president I ever saw in person. I think he was the most fundamentally decent of all the Republican presidents who have served in my lifetime.

One afternoon in 1976, President Ford's motorcade came down Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. I was six years old at the time. We lived a block away, so we dutifully walked over to Mockingbird and lined the street along with most of Highland Park. After what seemed like dozens of police motorcycles and Secret Service cars (this was less than a year after Squeaky Fromme's assassination attempt), I caught a brief glimpse of Ford waving through the window of his limousine.

After the motorcade passed, my friends and I returned to the sandbox. I recall one of my more outspoken friends said "President Ford is a doo-doo head," or something to that effect. Another friend, apparently mistaking the president for some kind of god figure, then said, "Don't say that. He can hear you, you know!"

One of the more morbid aspects of working for the government is that we usually get the day off for presidential funerals. It'll be interesting to see how they handle the special case of Ford, who wasn't elected president - or vice president, for that matter - and only served from August of 1974 (Nixon's resignation) to January of 1977 (Carter's inauguration).

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