Wednesday, December 27, 2006

President Ford and the next President

I was sorry to hear of the passing of President Gerald Ford today. I didn't vote for him, opting instead for Jimmy Carter on my inaugural trip to the polls in l976. I think, though, that he made the right call on pardoning President Nixon, believing that exile and impeachment were sufficient punishment for a man who put such a high premium on his place in history. President Ford spared the country a wrenching, divisive ordeal in so doing, even though many people wanted Nixon punished to the maximum extent of the law.

The thing I most remember about Gerry Ford, though, was his ability to laugh at himself. He made himself very imitable with his tendency to fall down airplane stairs, trip on the Oval Office rug, etc. etc. Chevy Chase and the first Saturday Night Livers made a career off recreating these incidents. Some presidents--the more imperial and imperious types--would've taken offense at that, sent their PR people to pressure NBC, maybe even shut down the studio if their name happened to be Vladimir Putin. To his credit, though, President Ford laughed right along with the rest of America He once said he never missed Saturday Night Live.

I think self-deprecation is an extremely important characteristic in a President. It suggests that you do not take yourself too seriously, that you believe yourself capable of making a mistake, that you are accepting of the opinions of others. In other words, it suggests humility and a sense of human fallibility. All of those characteristics are notably absent in the current President, who thinks himself incapable of making mistakes and is utterly impervious to the opinions of everyone save his personal sycophants. We have all seen the results in the wreckage of his Presidency.

In the coming months, I'll be looking for the candidate who rolls with the punches and laughs at signs of his or her own humanity. That's maybe the best way to remember President Ford.

2 Comments:

Blogger LaPopessa said...

I was certainly among those who yelled and moaned about the Nixon pardon. Convinced that if there was no deal, there was, at least, a miscarriage of justice. I wanted to watch Nixon be torn apart in a courtroom.

I was wrong. Ford was right. As much as I hated Nixon, getting him out of the way and moving on was best for the nation.

If only we had a magic ejector seat for the current oval office occupant. For the good of the nation and the world.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had never thought about the humility difference between Presidents Ford and Bush2. You are right. Good post.

8:53 AM  

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