Monday, January 01, 2007
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in the past 8 years under George Dubya (the man's stupidity and influence have been so horrible that I've completely withdrawn, unable to even subscribe to the daily paper since 2000---which I'd been reading since I was 5 years old!).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.