Monday, March 3, 2008

President 38 - Insider

Gerald Ford is another person who never served as Governor or Senator, but he was clearly an insider. Now we have to grant that the route he took to the Presidency was unusual - he still remains the only unelected President, a record that we hope will never be tied - but he certainly came to the Oval Office with significant experience as Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, plus a short stint as Vice President.

It's no secret that Gerald Ford is my favorite President, and part of the reason is that, despite his never having served as Governor, and despite his deep respect for Congress, and despite being hampered with a minority position in Congress, he still understood the powers that he had as President, and he wasn't afraid to use them.

During the first few years of his Presidency, you sometimes wondered if George W. Bush even knew how to spell the word "veto." Gerald Ford certainly had no reservations in using the veto. While his enemies derided him for doing so, I believe that Ford should be praised for understanding the powers of his office.

Of course, the one presidential power which Ford was most notorious for using was the pardon power. His pardon of Richard Nixon shattered the honeymoon feelings that he had enjoyed during his first month in office, and some argue that the pardon cost him the election in 1976. But history has a way of re-examining things, and eventually the Kennedys gave Ford a "Profile in Courage" award. I'm sure it was sweet.


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