Wednesday, December 27, 2006

R.I.P., Gerald Ford

So now the newspapers who put together their people-who-died-in-2006 lists early must really feel stupid.

I really have no opinion on Ford. I was very young during his time. He pardoned Nixon, which kinda sucks, but I suppose if that's the worst thing you can say about his Presidency, that's not so bad. He restored blandness to a country that was tired of all the excitement. He also managed to avoid two assassination attempts by crazed women in California over a seventeen-day period, so he couldn't have been quite the bumbler he was portrayed as (he'd been a collegiate all-star football player, too).

Other Ford tidbits:
  • He was born with the name Leslie Lynch King, Jr. His parents divorced when he was a baby, and he took the name of his stepfather.
  • Despite being a Ford from Michigan, he was not related to Henry Ford.
  • Of all U.S. presidents, he lived to be the oldest, beating Reagan by just 45 days.
  • Ford had the second-longest retirement of any President, beaten only by Herbert Hoover.
  • Ford was the third President to die in California. The other two are Harding and Reagan.

Update: A big roundup of blogger reactions here. There's an interesting side story on Oliver Sipple, the ex-marine who saved him from the Sara Jane Moore assassination attempt. Sipple was gay, but efforts by Harvey Milk to use him to show that gay men could be heroes, too, backfired as the outing ruined his personal life.

Update 2: Even Chevy Chase has good things to say about Ford.

Update 3: A good argument from blogger Captain Ed that pardoning Nixon, though well-intentioned, was a mistake.

Update 4: Professional naysayer Christopher Hitchens slams Ford pretty hard.


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