Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon’s scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America’s history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.
Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments — including an angioplasty — in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, California, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.
Ford was an accidental president, Nixon’s hand-picked successor, a man of much political experience who had never run on a national ticket. He was as open and straightforward as Nixon was tightly controlled and conspiratorial.
Betty has issued a statement:
“His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country.”
Captain’s Quarters: We can expect plenty of analysis of Ford’s impact on American politics, but to me he will always be the Accidental President. Plucked from near-obscurity to be Nixon’s VP in the wake of Spiro Agnew’s resignation, he never appeared at ease in the glare of presidential scrutiny. He soon garnered an undeserved reputation as a klutz, thanks to Chevy Chase, but in truth he was a star athlete. His was the first presidency to get defined by video bites and cheap shots, but unfortunately he was not the last.
The Moderate Voice: And, indeed, it’s hard for those who weren’t alive at the time to now grasp the importance of what Ford did — just by doing some simple things. And to grasp how quickly his political career unraveled.
Gun Toting Liberal: I always loved President Ford, not because of his ability to govern, but because I was still a child when my parents used to tune into Saturday Night Live as comedian Chevy Chase would portray him as a lovable, clumsy oaf who was always getting his arms stuck in the automatic windows of his limousines and tripping and falling; portrayed as such (as I would learn later) due to an unfortunate fall he once had on the steps of Air Force One. To those young eyes of mine, “Jerry” was a famous man who always made me laugh, but in my adulthood, I later realized he was quite an extraordinary patriot who gave the highest office in the land a “whirl”. May “Jerry” rest in peace with the angels.
The Florida Masochist: Gerald Ford took over the Presidency at a time of turmoil in American politics. Ford helped to restore respect to the Presidency after the Watergate scandal, and for that he will always be remembered. RIP.
Misunderestimation: Over the next 30 days, the United States will morn the passing of Ford and we will learn more about the man and the true impact of his presidency. I think it’s time the man receives the credit he is due.
Right Pundits: In one of the great profiles in courage in American history, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974. That simple act left Gerald Ford politically dead. Today, 30 years later, Gerald Ford left the earth a better place for his fearless act. And he did it for the most noble of reasons. He cleared his desk of the scandal that was consuming his Presidency so that he could move on with the business of the country. America owes him a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice helping the nation heal in the wake of the vastly damaging Watergate scandal. Gerald Ford died today in California at the age of 93.
Hot Air: By all accounts he was a decent and genuine man. He survived two assassination attempts and relentless mocking by Chevy Chase, who portrayed him as hopelessly clumsy (even though he was quite athletic and a college football star). Plus the dude smoked a pipe. That’s a stone cold mack-daddy Prez, there.
Gay Patriot: I met that good man when he came to Cincinnati in June 1976. I recall he was wearing a gray suit. He signed a paper in my notepad and was delighted that someone so young would volunteer for his campaign. I’ll always remember how his face lit up when he thanked me for my efforts on his behalf. It seemed he was almost laughing.
Seven Stripes: Rest peacefully, President Ford, and thank you for your service to this great nation.
Wizbang!: I was in the fourth grade during the campaign between President Ford and then Governor Jimmy Carter. One girl in my class, Darleen, wanted Jimmy Carter to win because she thought he was cuter. Even at nine years old, I was outraged that anyone could possibly want someone to be president just because he was better looking (so you can imagine my disgust at the soccer moms who fawned all over Bill Clinton in 1992). I wanted to stay up the night of the election to see who won, but my mom nixed that idea and said I had to go to bed. The next morning, I jumped out of bed to see if President Ford won, but my mom had to break it to me that President Ford lost and that Jimmy Carter was now President-Elect. I was so disappointed.
The Wide Awake Cafe: My prayers are with the family of the former president. I remember how disappointed I was when he was defeated by Jimmy Carter even though back then I didn’t vote in that election because we were in the process of moving to Germany. Gerald Ford seemed like a real, honest man, almost a Jimmy Stewart kind of president.
Thespis Journal: As a tweleve year old, I was highly impressed with Mr. Ford. As a fourteen and fifteen year old, I was proud to support Ford for President against Jimmy Carter. Although Jimmy Carter’s ridiculously failed Presidency set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s rise to power, Ford would have made a greater President if he had been elected in 1976. Although Ford lst Ohio by only ten thousand votes, he did not spend one minute making a false claim to winning or act as a shadow President as pitful John Kerry has attempted to do the last two years after losing Ohio by one hundred thousand votes. Ford’s death highlights Kerry’s trite and inconsequential stature.