Hiller Instinct: President Gerald Ford
The Hiller Instinct: Hiller Instinct: President Gerald Ford
He was an accidental president, sworn-in in the wake of Watergate and Richard Nixon’s humiliating resignation that divided the nation.
"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over," Ford said. "Our constitution works."
Though Ford, who prized truth, was Nixon’s opposite, he granted...
"... a full, free, and absolute pardon onto Richard Nixon," Ford said.
The controversial pardon defined Ford and was remembered more than 25 years later with a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
"I was one of those who spoke out against his actions then, but time has a way of clarifying past events, and now we see that President Ford was right," Sen. Ted Kennedy said.
Ford's family moved to Michigan, just after he was born in 1913.
A football star at the University of Michigan, he went to Yale Law School, then joined the U.S. Naval Reserve for World War II.
Back home after the war, he ran for Congress in 1948, winning the first of 12 terms.
Ford's goal was to be Speaker of the House, but with Democrats in control of Congress, the highest he could climb in Congress was minority leader.
Political turmoil put him in the White House.
Likeable and loyal, he was a logical choice for vice-president in 1973, when Nixon needed to replace Spiro Agnew, who was forced out by an income tax scandal.
Less than a year later, Nixon was out, and Ford was in the Oval Office.
The war in Vietnam ended while he was president, and he helped thaw the Cold War with the Soviet Union by limiting nuclear weapons
In 1975, he survived two attempted assassinations.
In 1976, he won the Republican nomination and a chance to win a term of his own.
But he couldn't overcome opposition to pardoning Nixon and an embarrassing error in a debate with Jimmy Carter, when he denied what was then true:
"There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration," he said.
Out of office, Ford kept busy and became wealthy playing golf, joining boards of big businesses, lecturing and making speeches.
Along the way, there were some medical setbacks: two brain strokes at the 2000 GOP convention sent him to the hospital for a week and, in 2003, dizziness put him in the hospital again.
Ford described himself as a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs and a conservative in fiscal policy.
The nation's only un-elected president, the path he set for himself in the White House is one we wish every politician would follow.
"I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor, with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end," Ford said.
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