Betty Ford

40th Anniversary Of Gerald Ford Becoming President: A Blessing For The Nation!

It has been 40 years since Gerald Ford became President, upon the resignation of our most dangerous President, Richard Nixon, due to his impending impeachment and trial in Congress, based on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice in the Watergate Scandal.

The 25th Amendment, only ratified and added to the Constitution in 1967, allowed Ford, who had replaced the corrupt Vice President Spiro Agnew, to become our 38th President.

Ford helped to end the great national nightmare of a corrupt President and a corrupt Vice President. He was the right man for the time, well liked and well respected, and not ambitious to be President. All Ford had wanted to do in his 25 year career in the House of Representatives was to become Speaker of the House.

Suddenly thrust into the responsibilities of the Presidency, Ford showed courage and guts in his selection of Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President; the pardoning of Richard Nixon, which probably helped to defeat him in a close race for the Presidency in 1976 with Jimmy Carter; his handling of the Mayaguez Affair with Cambodia, which save captured hostages; and his brilliant appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.

Ford knew how to cross the aisle, and make friends of rivals, including President Carter, with the two men becoming fast friends once Carter left office, and with Carter giving the eulogy at Ford’s funeral in 2006.

Ford also gave us one of the greatest First Ladies in American history in Betty Ford, and his moderate conservatism is what one would wish for now from the much further right wing Republican Party of 2014.

It is well worth a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the Ford Presidential Museum, as this author and blogger did a year ago, which caused him to gain growing respect for the 38th President of the United States, who showed up at the precisely proper time when the Presidency itself was under attack!

First Lady Poll On Presidents Day

A Siena College poll has ranked First Ladies and their historic role as we celebrate Presidents Day.

The highest ranking in order are:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Abigail Adams
Jacqueline Kennedy
Dolley Madison
Michelle Obama
Hillary Clinton
Lady Bird Johnson
Betty Ford
Martha Washington
Rosalynn Carter

Laura Bush, Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, and Bess Truman were all judged to have played an inadequate role as First Lady, although many First Ladies stayed in the background, and only since the 1960s has the role expanded, with the earlier major exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, who stands way above the rest of the list.

Surprisingly, Mary Todd Lincoln, Lucy Hayes, Frances Cleveland, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Grace Coolidge, and Barbara Bush were not listed as among the most influential, while one could argue that at least Edith Bolling Galt WIlson and Barbara Bush belonged in the top ten, more so than Martha Washington and Dolley Madison.

Most Influential First Ladies In American History

The role of First Lady, the wife of the President, has evolved over time, and in recent decades, it has been extremely difficult for a First Lady to conduct herself as Jane Pierce or Bess Truman did, which was, basically, to avoid the public spotlight and any major duties.

First Ladies have had their own causes in recent decades, and a few earlier First Ladies had a major impact on their times and their husbands.

So if we were to list 15 First Ladies who had a major role in American history, we would list the following in a chronological list:

Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams
Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison
Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham :Lincoln
Lucy Webb Hayes, wife of Rutherford B. Hayes
Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Grover Cleveland
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of John F. Kennedy
Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Lyndon B. Johnson
Betty Ford, wife of Gerald Ford
Rosalynn Carter, wife of Jimmy Carter
Nancy Reagan, wife of Ronald Reagan
Barbara Bush, wife of George H. W. Bush
Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton
Michelle Obama, wife of Barack Obama

If one was asked to list the five most powerful and significant First Ladies in ranked order, a good list would be as follows:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Hillary Clinton
Betty Ford
Lady Bird Johnson
Michelle Obama

This author welcomes discussion of the lists mentioned above!

A Great Moment In American History 39 Years Ago Today As The Rule Of Law Triumphed, And Sanity Returned With Gerald Ford Becoming President!

39 years ago today, President Richard Nixon resigned from office, as the rule of law triumphed, and America returned to sanity with the the inauguration of Gerald Ford as our 38th President.

Nixon might have accomplished a great deal in his five and a half years in the White House, but he represented the greatest threat to our government stability since the Civil War, as he abused power, showed definite signs of mental illness, and had proved on the Watergate tapes that he had obstructed justice and broken the law, and had expressed what we did not know clearly at the time, overt racism and anti semitism!

The Constitution worked, as the Congress and the Supreme Court intervened and saved America from a President out of control, and we were blessed with a man who replaced him, who we now realize was the right person to take the helm at a time when we desperately needed a person of conscience, decency, and principles.

We found that man in Gerald Ford, who never had ambitions to be President, but came along as an acceptable choice under the 25th Amendment, which had only been added to the Constitution six years earlier, in 1967. We were saved from a fate worse than Nixon, the crooked, unqualified, and demagogic Spiro Agnew, who scared the living daylights out of many decent, principled Americans.

Ford came into the Presidency, moved us past the nightmare of Richard Nixon by pardoning him, so that the nation could look to the future, and deal with the many problems it faced at that time in the mid 1970s…He suffered defeat for a full term in 1976 by a small margin, certainly caused by that controversial pardon. But he steadied the ship of state, and gained respect for his handling of a terrorist incident, the Mayaguez Affair with the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; gave us one of the greatest recent Supreme Court Justices, John Paul Stevens, who served 35 years, longer than any Justice except William O. Douglas; graced us with his wonderful wife, Betty Ford, who set a modern standard for First Ladies to follow, as the most active since Eleanor Roosevelt; and held off the right wing tilt of the Republican Party for four years, by stopping Ronald Reagan’s attempt to turn the party to the Right. He also gave us one of our best and most activist Vice Presidents, Nelson Rockefeller, and bravely survived two assassination attempts within 17 days of each other in September 1975. Ford also showed us how a Republican President could be a responsible, mainstream conservative.

Gerald Ford restored the dignity and status of the Presidency at a time when it desperately needed a boost, and graced our nation for a longer life than any President of the United States.

Having visited the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, last month brought this author and blogger to a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions of Gerald and Betty Ford. While he served the shortest term of a President who did not die in office, it was a significant 895 days, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his service in the Presidency, as well as his 25 years in the House of Representatives.

165th Anniversary Of Seneca Falls Equal Rights Convention: A Time For Women’s Rights Advocates To Plan Strategy For Future!

165 years ago this week, specifically on July 19 and 20, the momentous event known as the Seneca Falls Convention took place in upstate New York.

300 men and women gathered, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and including the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, demanding equal rights for women, including the right of suffrage, participating in voting.

That fight for suffrage took 72 years, until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, and the move for the Equal Rights Amendment proposal of 1972 fell short by three states, and was declared dead in 1982.

But now there is an urgency to fight for that proposed amendment, despite the odds against it being ratified in the political climate we live in now, if for no other reason than to declare that the strategy of the future is that women are not going to allow backtracking on basic rights that have now been the law for years, specifically the Roe V. Wade decision on Abortion Rights forty years ago, plus the push for equal pay, equal treatment in the military, fighting against acceptance of rape by many politicians of the Republican Party, and the Religious Right desire to send women back home, not working, cooking and being available for a man’s desires in the bedroom!

There may be women who are willing to accept the Republican view on women in 2013, but they are NOT a majority, and if Betty Ford, the First Lady with President Gerald Ford, were alive and well today, she would be leading the fight for women’s rights, as she did when she was in the White House!

Having visited the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids yesterday, it reminded the author of how far the GOP has moved from the Ford Presidency experience, and remember that turn to the right began when Ronald Reagan challenged President Ford for the Presidential nomination in 1976, helping to cause his defeat, and the ultimate takeover of the Republican Party by the Right Wing led by Reagan!

So women, and men who agree that they deserve equal treatment, need to organize and fight for women’s rights, even now, 165 years after Seneca Falls!

Centennial Of Gerald Ford’s Birth: A Time To Honor Our 38th President!

Today is the centennial of President Gerald Ford’s birth, and a moment to celebrate and honor our 38th President.

Gerald Ford will never go down as a great, near great, or above average President, being ranked right in the middle of our 43 Presidents, but he made a vast difference to our nation.

Gerald Ford demonstrated decency, humanity, courage, conviction, and decisiveness when such attributes were needed.

Gerald Ford became President by accident, having had no desire or ambition to be President, but steadying the ship of state after the Watergate Scandal led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Thank goodness the nation had found out about the corruption and venality of Vice President Spiro Agnew, forcing his resignation, and the implementation of the 25th Amendment, just passed and ratified six years earlier.

Nixon picked Ford as Agnew’s successor due to his popularity with both his Republican colleagues and the respect and high regard that he was held in by the opposition Democrats, who controlled both houses of Congress.

Ford had served 25 years in the House of Representatives from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and had been the Republican leader in the House for nearly nine years, when he was tapped for the Vice Presidency.

Ford had always had the ambition to become Speaker of the House one day, if only the Republicans were to gain control of the House, which they did not do for 40 years from 1955-1995.

Ford had to “walk on eggs” for the eight months of his Vice Presidency, being there to help Nixon but not be too closely associated with him, and he acted totally in an appropriate manner.

Gerald Ford was a likeable “regular guy”, and graced us with his First Lady, Betty Ford, a truly elegant woman who dignified and added to the role of First Ladies during her two years and five months as a woman of principle, courage, and openness not typical of most earlier First Ladies.

Gerald Ford served only two years, five months and eleven days, a total of 895 days in the Oval Office, the fifth shortest duration of any occupant in the Presidency, with shorter terms of Warren G. Harding, Zachary Taylor, James Garfield, and William Henry Harrison.

Ford faced tough challenges with the decision to pardon Richard Nixon; The Mayaguez Affair with Cambodia; the difficult Recession of 1974-1975, the worst since the Great Depression; the challenge for the 1976 Republican Presidential nomination by former Governor Ronald Reagan; and the difficult election campaign against former Governor Jimmy Carter.

Ford also faced the unbelievable threat of two assassination attempts within seventeen days in September 1975, fortunately ducking bullets twice in an heroic manner.

Ford stood out as a moderate conservative who always could work across the aisle with his rivals, the Democrats, something that would not be admired today by the Tea Party Movement element which has damaged the heritage, tradition and future of the Republican Party.

If Gerald Ford were here today, he would be shocked at the social conservatism of the religious Right and the venal attacks on Barack Obama by conservative ideologues, and would probably not be accepted in the GOP of 2013 as legitimate!

Gerald Ford outlived Ronald Reagan by six weeks, and remains, as of now, our longest lived President, and it is appropriate to wish him a happy 100th birthday!

And I am thrilled to announce that later this week, I will be visiting the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my younger son, and am thrilled that the timing is such as to coincide with the Centennial of Gerald Ford’s birth! I am looking forward to learning more about the historical contributions of our 38th President, who deserves our respect and thanks!

The Parallel Universe Of Republicans And Conservatives On America’s Presidents Since Theodore Roosevelt

The modern Republican Party and the conservative movement are working in tandem to distort American history, particularly regarding our Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama, and in the process, are promoting the Big Lie technique, that if you repeat a falsehood enough times, people who are gullible and poorly informed and educated, will come to believe it!

So let’s survey the thoughts of these “mind control” advocates on our Presidents in the past century. Realize that what is said below is myth and propaganda, not to be believed and accepted as factual, which it MOST certainly is NOT!

Theodore Roosevelt was a so called Republican, but he created a monster, the beginning of a powerful, assertive Presidency. He interfered in labor negotiations in the coal industry; started interference in business through lawsuits and federal regulatory laws; and started the modern environmental movement, and in so doing created the nightmare of land being taken away from economic development and private ownership. He also utilized the word “progressive”, the beginning of modern socialism and communism in America! (Really whacko viewpoint of TR)!

William Howard Taft, often called a conservative, was no such thing, as he advocated the direct election of US Senators (17th Amendment), the hated “progressive” federal income tax (16th Amendment), and promoted anti trust laws suits on a greater scale than TR, and also more effective regulation of the railroads! (Not conservative enough for today’s Republicans)!

Woodrow Wilson was a further expander of progressivism, with the hated Federal Reserve Banking system, the Clayton Anti Trust Act, and the Federal Trade Commission; along with labor regulation on the national level for the first time. He also created “Big Government” bureaucracies during the First World War! (An overly one sided view of Wilson)!

Warren G. Harding has been criticized unfairly, as he was the President who worked to limit federal government, and has, therefore, been mistreated by historians, to be the worst President of the century, an unfair assessment. (Of course, in reality, totally false)!

Calvin Coolidge was the “best” President of the century, as he worked to continue Harding’s lessening of Presidential power, and prosperity reached its peak under him, and he has been unfairly blamed for the Great Depression, which began months after he left the White House. (Also totally false in reality)!

Herbert Hoover abandoned conservatism, raised taxes, moved toward deficit spending, and was the forerunner of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. His policies made things worse for Americans, and ushered in similar policies by FDR! (A distortion of the truth, in reality)!

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a Socialist, a Marxist, a Communist, a Fascist, and a Nazi all at the same time, creating an all powerful Presidency , making the Great Depression much worse and longer, creating programs and policies called the New Deal, which were the undermining of America, and remains part of our existence today, but which conservatives and Republicans are determined to eliminate in the future! He also promoted the expansion of the Soviet Union by his corrupt deals in World War II! (A great distortion of the truth by conservative haters)!

Harry Truman continued and expanded the New Deal with his Fair Deal, and refused to fight Communism adequately in the Korean War! He also interfered with states rights by his decision to promote civil rights in the military and in Washington, DC, and also promoted labor rights against the attempt of Republicans to undermine labor unions. (A distortion of the truth again)!

Dwight D. Eisenhower became part of the great Progressive “conspiracy” by accepting the New Deal, expanding federal government intervention, and having the “nerve” to intervene in the civil rights crusade on the side of “extremists”, and undermining the South and its tradition, still held a century after the Civil War, in states rights! ( A view not taken seriously by any reputable expert on Ike)!

John F. Kennedy worked to expand the welfare state set up by FDR, Truman and Eisenhower, and further intervened in the South on the civil rights issue, using the National Guard as Eisenhower had done. Kennedy refused to confront the Soviet Union adequately, instead negotiating an agreement with the enemy, rather than start a nuclear war! (Part of the great distortion of JFK by conservative critics)!

Lyndon B. Johnson further expanded the New Deal with his Great Society, making Socialism, Marxism, Communism, and Fascism advance further, and taking away freedom by civil rights legislation, the war on poverty, and the “terrible” Medicare and Medicaid programs, two more welfare programs, similar to FDR’s Social Security. He also failed to win the war in Vietnam, caving in to the Communist enemy! (Part of the bitter attack on LBJ by the far Right)!

Richard Nixon made deals with the hated Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China, and failed to win the war in Vietnam, which could have been won. He also became a traitor by promoting “progressive” programs such as Affirmative Action, the Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration, and the greatest advocate for the environment among American Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt! (Forget his real faults with Watergate, as these are more important, according to conservative critics)!

Gerald Ford was too moderate and accommodating, and his wife Betty Ford, was a radical feminist as First Lady! Ford stopped the advancement of conservatism by defeating Ronald Reagan for the Presidential nomination in 1976, and had Nelson Rockefeller, the hated “liberal” as his Vice President!(Oh, and Ford was too centrist, and for social moderation)!

Jimmy Carter was a terrible President with no redeeming values,and is “rightfully”attacked on a regular basis by Republicans and conservatives. He undermined the nation’s foreign and domestic policies! He had no worthwhile accomplishments at all! (A total distortion of reality!)

Ronald Reagan was a “great” President, with no shortcomings or faults, and we need a President of his insights and courage in the future. Those who claim Reagan was other than perfect are to be ignored! (A total interference with reality and truth!)

George H. W. Bush was a moderate who compromised with Democrats, raised taxes which undermined the country, and failed to overcome Iraq’s leader in the Persian Gulf War, because he worked with the United Nations on the war effort! (An unfair assessment, trivializing him)!

Bill Clinton had many faults and shortcomings, but despite his being impeached, and the vicious attacks on him, now is the time to talk about how much better he was than Barack Obama, because he made some deals with Republicans, after first resisting them in the battle over shutting down the government in 1995. (An amazing rewriting of history, unbelievable)!

George W. Bush cannot be blamed for September 11 and the War on Terror, but he was too willing to bust the budget, and his spending was too much out of control. (An attempt to write Bush out of blame for much of what America has to deal with today)!

But, of course, the fact that we are in an economy which is the worst since the Great Depression is not due to Bush or Republicans or conservative philosophy, but because we have in office now a black guy named Barack Obama, who was actually born in Kenya, and is a Socialist, Communist, Marxist, Fascist and Nazi, and is the greatest threat to American freedom since—well—-TR, Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter and to some extent, Clinton—-and all those Republicans Presidents who actually were “progressives” in some way—Taft, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and both Bushes!

If only we could eliminate all these Presidents except Harding Coolidge, and Reagan–this nation would be in fantastic shape! Right?

This is the deluded, nutty beliefs of many Republicans and conservatives–a great conspiracy by both Democratic and Republican Presidents against freedom and liberty and the best interests of the American people!

This is the “Know Nothingism”, the ignorance, the stupidity that intelligent people must fight against!

As Rick Santorum, the former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, and Presidential candidate, said recently—the smart, the intelligent people will not support the Republican Party–and FOR GOOD REASON!

Barack Obama’s Greatest Asset: Michelle Obama

President Barack Obama’s greatest asset, as he moves into full campaign mode this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, is his wife, the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama has shown true grace, dignity, and class as First Lady, and has added much to the stature of that unelected office.

Highly intelligent, dedicated and committed to her husband and the issues she cares about, and warm and genuine to all she meets, Michelle Obama has played a role under her husband matched only by a few First Ladies—including Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Hillary Clinton.

Michelle Obama will start off the convention tomorrow night with the first major speech, and she will set the stage for what is to come, including the keynote speech by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; the nominating speech by former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday night; and the acceptance speeches of Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama on Thursday evening.

This convention will be a time to celebrate all of the great accomplishments of President Obama, and for making a case to give him a second term in office to continue and complete the work he has begun, and add to his contributions to the American people and nation!

38 Years Since Gerald Ford Became President: The Last Moderate, Mainstream Republican Before Conservatism Took Hold Of The GOP!

On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned, and Gerald Ford, who never sought the Presidency, became President, serving out the term of two years, five and a half months, losing a full term to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Ford had his problems and opponents, and his administration will never be ranked among the best, but as Ted Kennedy said in 1999, awarding special honors to President Ford, 25 years after he pardoned President Nixon, Ford had indeed done the right thing regarding Nixon, and had demonstrated both courage and decisiveness in office.

In so doing, Ford gained the respect of the American people, maybe somewhat belatedly, but when on looks back almost four decades ago, one realizes that Gerald Ford was a decent man, a compassionate man, a moderate conservative who worked in the mainstream, but was weakened by the beginning of the right wing takeover of the GOP by Ronald Reagan, which also affected the Presidency of George H. W. Bush and that of his son, George W. Bush.

Ford looks better all of the time, particularly at a time when the GOP is so far to the right that it is literally scary what they wish to do–abolish the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson!

And his wife, Betty, is also an inspiring figure, much beloved and respected.

So in retrospect, Gerald and Betty Ford look a lot better than what we have been offered since by the party that once had as leaders such luminaries as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower!

Republicans And Women: Going Backwards From 1920 To Now

With the massive assault on women’s rights being waged by Republicans in the Congress and in the Republican state governorships and legislatures and on conservative talk radio, one would think that the Republican Party has always been this way.

But actually, just the opposite is true!

It was a Republican and a woman, Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin of Montana, who sponsored the woman suffrage amendment, which became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.

It was a vast majority of Republicans in Congress who promoted the proposed Equal Rights Amendment , along with the vast majority of Democrats, when it passed in 1972 and went to the states.

It was President Richard Nixon who gave his strong endorsement to the ERA after its passage in 1972.

It was President Gerald Ford who campaigned for the ERA when he became President in 1974.

It was First Lady Betty Ford who not only campaigned for the ERA, but also supported other feminist causes and the reproductive rights of women, despite conservative criticism.

When one particularly looks at the contributions of Gerald and Betty Ford to the advancement of women’s rights, there has to be nostalgia for the “Good Old Days”!

But ironically, supposedly, as time passes, things get better, right?

But in the case of women’s rights and the Republican Party, the situation is the reverse: the past is far more advanced than the present.

But Republicans will pay the price this fall, when millions of self respecting women will march to the polls, ignore even their “religious” and “good Christian” husbands who want to keep them subservient, and will vote out the Republicans who are taking away the rights of women, and vote in more women and more men who believe in true equality of the genders!