My first reaction to the death of Gerald Ford was the recognition that he was my "birth president" -- he was president when I was born. Of course, I was too young to remember anything about his era. I do remember learning that he was president (at the time of my birth) when I was in elementary school and wondering who he was since he was sandwiched between better known presidents.
Most of the rememberances I've seen or heard this week attribute his lost election to his pardoning of Nixon. In fact, Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski seemed to almost lament Ford's loss in a report I heard on OPB yesterday:
". . . Kulongoski says history will judge Ford better than voters did in 1976. They blocked him from serving a full term as president.
Kulongoski says Americans chose Jimmy Carter because of Ford's treatment of Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.
Ted Kulongoski: "And I, probably like a lot of people, I think he lost his election against Carter, because of the pardon. But he did what he thought was best for the people of this country and in the best interests of America, and I don't think there's anybody around today who thinks he made the wrong decision."
While I wasn't politically aware then, I suspect that I probably would have voted the same way (if only one year olds could vote). While I understand Ford's reasons for pardoning Nixon, it was the wrong decision. Nixon should have been held criminally responsible like any other citizen.
I admit that I tend to be shallow and immediately wonder what a politician's gay rights views are before forming an opinion about them. So, I was surprised to hear that Ford joined the advisory board of the Republican Unity Coalition*, a gay-straight organization. While I couldn't find a quote regarding gay marriage or his opinion of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, Ford did support gay couples receiving the same economic benefits of straight married couples. According to NewYorkBlade.com:
". . . When asked by Price if gay couples should receive the same economic benefits as married couples, such as Social Security and tax deductions, Ford said, 'I don’t see why they shouldn’t. I think that’s a proper goal . . . I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.'. . ."
(Hat tip: ExGayWatch.com)
* Isn't it disturbing that groups within the GOP have to strive to unite the party? How can their party unite the nation if they can't unite themselves?