AP announces that President Gerald R. Ford, America's only unelected President died earlier tonight. He was 93. Ford a Michigan Republican was always a solid leader who tried to heal a wounded nation after its long battle with Watergate and the Vietnam War. Ford had been Speaker of the House of representatives before then President Richard Nixon tapped him to be Vice President after Spiro T. Agnew resigned in disgrace from office. Nixon soon followed and Ford again stepped up and assumed the presidency. It was the first time an unelected man was to assume the nation's highest office.
Ford immediately set out to heal the nation's wounds. The world had become polarized and Watergate as much as anything led to the nation's distrust of its leaders. Ford, in an attempt to put Watergate behind us, Pardoned Former President Nixon 30 days after assuming office which led many to believe the pardon was a Nixon Quid Pro Quo for stepping down. Ford in a rare presidential appearance before a House of representatives committee, denied that a deal had been struck and the investigation was closed.
Ford, who had a penchant for pratt falling became the subject of Chevy Chase a comedian then of Saturday Night fame, mimicking. It hurt him badly in the election of 1976 against President Jimmy Carter. Between his becoming a joke and the pardon of Nixon Ford lost an election that was closer than it should have been to Jimmy Carter.
Ford never second guessed his decision to pardon Nixon, he saw it as the only way the country could move on. The move was widely questioned at the time, but History has proven Ford did the right thing. In 2000, the Kennedy Library gave a Profile in Courage to Gerald Ford based in large part on his decision to Pardon Nixon so that the country could heal, knowing that when he granted the pardon he was badly hurting his chances to be re-elected to his own term in office.
Rest in Peace Mr. President.