Godspeed, Gerald Ford

Former President Gerald Ford passed away last night in California at the age of 93. Those of us old enough to remember him do so mostly for his pardon of his predecessor, Richard Nixon. He also is remembered as a good, honest, decent man by just about everyone who knew him. There are far worse ways to be remembered.

Interestingly, just a couple of days ago I had looked at a picture of him along with comedian Chevy Chase, in the booklet that came with the Saturday Night Live First Season box set that my brother, Kurt, gave me for Christmas. We know now that the reputation that Ford got for klutziness was unfair and inaccurate, but that's the power of television for you. I thought it was pretty gracious of Ford to get together with Chase at the time.

So, for the next few days, we're going to be reflecting a lot on that period from 1974-76. It wasn't a happy time in our nation's history, the Bicentennial celebration notwithstanding, and it only got worse when Jimmy Carter was elected. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the Watergate scandal had never come to light. Nixon would have completed his term, but then what? Without Nixon's disgrace, there would have been no Ford presidency; without the weak incumbency of an unelected president, would Carter's disastrous administration have followed? And without Carter's impotent response to the Iranians holding Americans hostage for 444 days, would Reagan have been elected and implemented the policies that brought down the Soviet Union? If Watergate had not occurred, the Soviet Union might still exist.