President Ford was a wonderful man and an excellent president. I spent most of the fall of 1976 running around Massachusetts with a bus full of college students attempting to persuade voters that they were better off with Gerry Ford than an unknown an untried southern governor. I had no idea how right I was.
The election of 1976 was a red/blue divide nearly as striking as the last two. President Carter won with the solid south and the midwest against the west and the Yankee east (except Massachusetts.)
Ford’s handling of the Mayaguez affair was the first assertion of American power after the retreat from Vietnam, and remains an important precedent for the exercise of presidential power when American lives are endangered around the world. 15 American servicemen were killed and 50 wounded in the assault on the Khmer Rouge.
It was a relatively short but very significant presidency, and Gerry Ford will be remembered fondly by any American with a generous spirit who can recall those post-Watergate, post-Vietnam days.
UPDATE: From one e-mail to The Corner:
His death reminds us that accident and chance play a greater role in politics than we would like to believe, that decency does not always prevail in elections but is long remembered, and that we confuse verbal accuity with political intelligence at our peril.