Monday, August 9, 2004

Thirty Years Later

So, if you were around, where were you when Richard Nixon resigned?

I was just back from six weeks in the Uintah Mountains and about to head to northern Michigan to paint the kitchen of the summer cottage my folks had just bought. I watched the resignation speech at home and then headed for a friend’s house to reviews (and revel) in Nixon’s final ignominy. The concensus was that he got away with his pension and dignity, and we echoed Roger Mudd’s comment on CBS that “he never said he was sorry.”

The next day when the actual change of power took place, I was on the way back from a dental appointment and heard Gerald Ford being sworn in on the radio in my pick-up truck. We all took immediately to Ford’s humble assumption of power (he toasts his own English muffins!) and agreed with his genial “I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln” self-deprecating humor. Of course he lost most of that appeal a month later when he pardoned Nixon.

I still think Jerry Ford was the best Republican president we’ve had in my lifetime; he wasn’t grandiose, he worked well with the Congress, he had a cool family, and he wasn’t in office long enough to do too much damage.