Monday, January 01, 2007

"President Ford"



Former President Ford died over the Christmas weekend (as did James Brown and Saddam Hussein, but the latter two had zero to do with my childhood, so I must ignore them here!). In 1976, Ford was running for president against Jimmy Carter (after becoming president in '74 after the man who appointed him vice-president, Richard Nixon, resigned).

In '76, when I was 11, I actually wore a "President Ford" button to school in the 6th grade (and still have a collection of presidential buttons, including that one). And remember being called on, laughingly, in class at that time: "Let's let the little Republican speak." (I got the MOFO answer right, you better believe!) I have become rather apolitical in the past 8 years under George Dubya (the man's stupidity and influence have been so horrible that I've completely withdrawn, unable to even subscribe to the daily paper since 2000---which I'd been reading since I was 5 years old!). But prior to that: My mom wrote in her baby-book for me that, at age 3, in 1968, I'd stop whatever I was doing whenever Richard Nixon came on TV. After Nixon resigned in '74, I wrote him a personal letter. (I was 9.) In 1980, I campaigned for Reagan as a sophomore at my high school, and got the chance to create a whole bulletin board all about him in my English classroom (to the dismay of my Democrat, yet very fair, teacher).

By 1984, I was in college, which does, as the Conservatives claim, make you Liberal: I became Vice-President of the "Students With [Gary] Hart" committee at the University of Texas, and was a delegate to the state convention, voting against the party's actual nominee, Walter Mondale (who lost to Reagan in the general election). (In this whole process, I actually got to meet Gary Hart and drive a car in his motorcade in Austin!) In 1988, I reluctantly supported Dukakis (hating him). In 1992, I, with a very glad heart, voted for Clinton. In 1996, I'd turned contrarian, voting for third-party candidate Ross Perot, just because Clinton had invaded Afghanistan for no reason and supported idiotic, meaningless things like school uniforms... 2000: Gore, of course. 2004: Kerry, of course.

As for Gerald Ford: I've been watching the news shows tributes to him over the past few days: It's kind of funny what we judged as "stupid" back then...so he fell down some plane steps twice and said Eastern Europe wasn't under Soviet influence (the latter a major faux pas, which he later publicly corrected). Other than that, he was ego-less enough to get us the fuck out of Viet Nam, when there was obviously no reason left for us being there. And he was ego-less enough to pardon Nixon, when there was obviously no reason left for the Left to continue the ideological war against Nixon, an obviously beaten man... (which is why my 9-year-old political self felt sympathy enough for him to write him a letter)

I can't stand what's happened to this country since George Bush took office in 2000. A complete lack of logic, a willful neglect of the common good.

Ford was a minor president, but he still had a sense of decency, of the right, common-sense thing to do, in both domestic and foreign affairs.

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