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Fondly Recalling President Jerry Ford

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"I am a Ford, not a Lincoln. My addresses will never be as eloquent as Mr. Lincoln's. But I will do my very best to equal his brevity and his plain speaking."

--President Jerry Ford, After Taking the Oath of Office as Vice President
December 6, 1973

By John E. Carey

I came to Washington directly out of high school. High School in Ohio.

Just as Dorothy says to Toto in The Wizard of Oz, I thought "We aren't in Kansas any more!"

I took a job in a House Ways and Means Committee Member's office. I thought I was smart, articulate and well read.

Boy was I wrong. I was totally naïve.

We witnessed the death of J. Edgar Hoover, whom my Dad had served at the FBI. We witnessed the agonizing end of the Nixon Administration, and, for just one moment, it seemed like the end of the presidency and perhaps the Republic.

During Watergate the endless strem of sad and bad news was an agony.

In walked a man of quiet calm, resolve and wisdom. A college football hero. A man from the upper Mid West. A former member of the House of Representatives.

Jerry Ford calmed the nation's nerves. The Washington Post seemed to go from Pit Bull to Bassett Hound. Government order and comity were restored.

President Ford presided over one of the saddest chapters and most joyful recoveries in American history.

The economy's performance during the Ford years was nothing short of miserable. America was largely out of Vietnam after withdrawing troops and leaving an IOU promising military support like air power in case the South Vietnamese army got into trouble. When trouble loomed, President Ford petitioned the Congress for funding support. Congress sent a denial: sentencing many hundreds of thousand and perhaps millions of Vietnamese allied with American to a life on the run or in prison or both.

The economy never recovered and Vietnam became a Communist country: but the Nation, the United States of America recovered nonetheless.

President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon of all crimes he committed or may have committed. Many in the nation gasped in disbelief, gripped with the desire to hang the former president.

But Mr. Ford said the nation needed healing.

I guess it just proves that in America anyone can be president.

May he enjoy the fruits of heaven.

President Ford's Greatest Quotes

--It can go on and on, or someone must write "The End" to it. I have concluded that only I can do that. And if I can, I must.
(Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon for Watergate)

--It would be tragic for this country if we went down the same path and ended up with the same problem that Great Britain has.

--The length of one's days matters less than the love of one's family and friends.

--Things are more like today than they have ever been before.

--There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.
(This gaffe during the debate with Jimmy Carter cost Ford dearly in the election)

--I watch a lot of baseball on the radio.

--I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots, so I ask you to confirm me with your prayers.

--I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad. In all my public and private acts as your president, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.

--I guess it just proves that in America anyone can be president.

--Teddy Roosevelt . . . once said, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' Jimmy Carter wants to speak loudly and carry a fly swatter.

--Our inflation, our public enemy number one, will, unless whipped, destroy our country, our homes, our liberties, our property and finally our national pride as surely as will a well-armed wartime enemy.
--When I talk about energy, I am talking about jobs. Our American economy runs on energy. No energy-no jobs.

--I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.

--When I became president, I did not want to have a powerful chief of staff. Wilson had his Colonel House, Eisenhower his Sherman Adams, Nixon his Halderman, and I was aware of the trouble those top assistants had caused my predecessors.

--If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have.

--The Constitution is the bedrock of all our freedoms; guard and cherish it; keep honor and order in your own house; and the republic will endure.

--He was one of the few political leaders I have ever met whose public speeches revealed more than his private conversations.
(On Ronald Reagan)

--Truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.

--The American people want a dialogue between them and their president . . . And if we can't have that opportunity of talking with one another, seeing one another, shaking hands with one another, something has gone wrong in our society.
(Following two assassination attempts)

--I was America's first instant Vice President, and now America's first instant President. The Marine Corps band is so confused, they don't know whether to play 'Hail to the Chief' or 'You've Come a Long Way, Baby.
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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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