Remembering a Good Man

Monday, December 02, 2013

David Shribman, calling Gerald Ford "underappreciated", marks an anniversary that is more obscure than it deserves:

[This Friday] is the 40th anniversary of the confirmation of Gerald R. Ford as vice president.

On the surface there's little reason to mark the ascension of anyone to a position that John Adams, the first man to occupy the vice presidency, described with some accuracy as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived." There have been 47 vice presidents and it would be surprising if you could name a quarter of them.
Reading the rest of Shribman's column, however, one sees that America got what it needed at the time when Ford assumed the Presidency: an even-keeled, decent man, who only reluctantly accepted power. Shribman reminds me of a few remarks by a contemporary of Ford's who did appreciate what he brought to the table: Ayn Rand, whose fame is enjoying a resurgence during a presidency held by someone very much Ford's opposite.

I'll note a couple of her comments here. First, Rand apreciated Gerald Ford's response to the Mayaguez Incident during the Vietnam War:
To go from the horrendous to the grotesque, consider the Mayaguez incident. I hasten to say that were it not for the proper and highly moral action taken by President Ford, the consequences of that incident could have been more horrendous than Phnom Penh. That a small band of those same Cambodian savages dared seize an unarmed American ship, was such an affront to America (and to civilization) that the collapse of international law would have followed, if President Ford had not acted as he did. To borrow Senator Goldwater's very appropriate phrase, every "half-assed nation" would have felt free to attack the U.S.--which would have meant world rule by terrorist gangs.We shall never know whether the seizure of the Mayaguez was a deliberate provocation to test what the global communist scum could get away with--or the spontaneous feat of a local gang drunk with power and acting more royalist than their kings. But this does not concern us: in either case, when a foreign country initiates the use of armed force against us, it is our moral obligation to answer by force--as promptly and unequivocally as is necessary to make it clear that the matter is non-negotiable. ("The Lessons of Vietnam", in The Voice of Reason, pp. 144-145)
Second, she offered the following general appraisal of Ford ahead of the 1976 elections:
In today's political situation, a positive statement about any candidate is valid only at the time it is made, since no one can tell whose policy may change to what or when. Up to the present (and, I hope, in the future), I support the candidacy of President Ford. I disagree with his policies in very many respects, but he deserves great credit for his fight against government spending and for his attempt to cut down on government controls. Obviously, he is an honest man who shows no symptoms of power-lust and no desire to run everyone's life. This is an unusual value in today's politics. [bold added] ("A Last Survey, Part I", The Ayn Rand Letter, vol. IV, no. 2, Dec. 1975)
In this age of massive and growing government intrusiveness, it is worth recalling that men like Ford have served relatively recently and might still be out there. We would do well to remember Gerald Ford this week.

-- CAV

1 comment:

Jim Woods said...

Agreed. During the post WWII period, Ford was a better president than most. The biographies of Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney credit Ford with wisdom that they appreciated better in hindsight.