Gerald Ford was a good man, an honest man, a real patriot, a true war hero, a fabulous athlete. He would have made a great Speaker of the House. Yes, Gerald Ford was the nicest man who was ever a mediocre President of the United States. Americans sense this. When President Reagan, long out of the public light and viciously maligned by scurrilous pseudo-documentaries until a year before his death, died millions of Americans sat for hours patiently to pay their respects to our greatest president. President Ford will receive a well-earned honorable funeral as would have benefited Grover Cleveland or William Howard Taft. Lest even the slightest Ford-mania take hold of conservatives, let us recall in barely two years why President Ford was mediocre.
Ford refused to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose masterpiece, The Gulag Archipelago, described the greatest killing machine then known in human history as one who lived in that Hell, a book which Time simply called “the greatest book of the Twentieth Century,” because it might offend a brutal functionary of the Stalinist regime who rose to the top of the muck to in the Soviet Union because Breshnev never saw a brutal Stalinist order for mass murder than he didn’t like. Gerald Ford would have sat down with Albert Speer in 1974, if Germany had not lost the Second World War and both America and Germany had strategic nuclear weapons and he would have snubbed Holocaust survivors like Elie Weisel.
Gerald Ford was the last Republican leader who did not grasp that cutting taxes was more important than limiting government spending. His vetoes of spending bills when the nation was hurting could – and should – have been compromised with Democrats into an aggressive campaign to relieve the crushing tax burden on America. This crusade for tax cuts did not just revitalize the American economy under Ronald Reagan, but it made the Left the bad guys in politics for decades. Ford played right into the hands of the “tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect” strategy of FDR.
Gerald Ford never grasped the awfulness of Roe v. Wade. Instead of noting that state governments had always possessed the power to legalize abortion, and that abortion was legal in three states at the time of the decision, Ford allowed himself to fall into the crowd which made that decision not about states’ rights but about abortion, and even there, Ford was pro-abortion. What if he had instead proposed a federal abortion law that provided protections for parents, for minors, and required study and patient consultation on the effects of abortion, and prohibited late term abortion? What if in that law subject matter jurisdiction on abortion questions had been taken from federal courts and placed with Congress, which ought to be making any federal laws? The abortion issue would not be an issue that divides America today, and ending the divisions in America was, presumably, one of Ford’s main goals.
Then Gerald Ford appointed John Paul Stevens on the United States Supreme Court and without his consistently Leftist vote much of the havoc we now face over the notional “separation of church and state” prohibiting prayers at high school football games or crèches in city parks would be moot. Ford also chose Nelson Rockefeller as his vice president. What if, instead, he had chosen Ronald Reagan, pardoned Richard Nixon, and then in early 1975 he had resigned from office, leaving Ronald Reagan to be president for almost ten years (two terms) at a younger age?
Reagan, enormously popular in the South and West, and holding the power of incumbency, would have demolished the pathetic Jimmy Carter, prevented the fall of the Shah of Iran, confronted Soviet evil earlier and more decisively, and put the Left in Congress on the defensive by a very aggressive tax cut policy. Why did Ford not do something like that? He could have easily returned to the House of Representatives in the next election and, very likely with a popular President Reagan, finally acquired his true dream of being Speaker of the House. The most mediocre characteristic of this kind, honest, patriotic and decent man was his underestimation of Ronald Reagan.
There was little, if anything, bad about the man, Gerald Ford. But there was not much, if anything, good about the Presidency of Gerald Ford. Why does it matter to say this now, at this awkward time, as we recall his fundamental goodness? Because we are in the midst of a war for our survival and today, more than ever, we need another Ronald Reagan and not another Gerald Ford.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and MenÕs News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.