Book Review: Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s

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American’s forgotten president.

Gerald Ford served in the House of Representatives for almost twenty-five years before being selected as Spiro Agnew’s replacement. Ford served on the Warren Commission, supported a balanced budget and was historically a fiscal conservative.  He was not Nixon’s first choice for Vice President, but he was the least offensive and known for his honesty.  

The Seventies was a time of no heroes.  Kennedy’s PT-109 Story came to light for its less than heroic actions.  Evil Kenevil’s failed Snake River Canyon jump tarnished his image forever. An unpopular war in Vietnam extended distrust of government.  Americans had few people to look up to and many people to distrust. Gerald Ford inherited a mess and was determined to fix it.

Ford pardoned Nixon to remove the former president from attention.  Inflation, unemployment, and a growing recession was where Ford believed attention should be focused and not on Nixon.  The pardon dramatically lowered Ford’s popularity overnight; but he always believed it was the right thing to do.  

Ford also made Chevy Chase famous on Saturday Night Live with his constant falls.  Ford was also portrayed as a klutz by the media.  Falls on the advance ski slopes,  cut on his head from hitting the wall while swimming, all added up to a clumsy president.  The truth is Ford was one of the most athletic presidents ever to serve and injuries were mostly results of training.  Ford once remarked after reports of a fall while skiing, is that he would like to see the reporter try the beginners slope; it’s hard to fall off a bar stool.

Ford inherited a mess politically and economically. He had no team that work with him through the primaries and elections; he had no team to start with and only a short time to form one. With little support in Congress Ford did all he could to fix the problems plaguing the country.

Ford is often dismissed as a president, but in reality he was hard working and honest and worked to build trust back in government and the presidency. He lost a close election in 1976 to Jimmy Carter and turned over a White House that was in order and a country that was recovering.

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