Gerald Ford: Non-Ideological Man In Ideological Age

Gerald R. Ford was a good man who served his country
well in an evil time.

When he took office on Aug. 9, 1974, and declared,

"Our long national nightmare is over,"
Ford did
not fully appreciate that those who had done the most to
create the nightmare were still here. The Establishment
that Nixon had humiliated in his 49-state landslide,
having just effected a

coup d`etat,
had crawled back into power.

That Establishment, which had hated Nixon since the

Alger Hiss
case and loathed

Spiro Agnew
for his

wildly popular attacks
on the liberal press,
embraced "Jerry" Ford, and never more eagerly
than when he elevated one of their own,

Nelson Rockefeller
, to the vice presidency.

August 1974 was the happy hour of American
liberalism, when the press discovered that, amazingly,
Jerry Ford actually toasted his own English muffins in
his kitchen and buttered them himself, before heading
off to the White House. How wonderful it all was.

The toasted-muffin phase of the Ford presidency ended
abruptly on the Sunday morning that

Ford issued a full pardon to Richard Nixon
for any
and all offenses committed during his presidency.

This city went berserk. Ford was savaged day after
day in the press, night after night on the network news.
His approval rating sank 40 points. The air was
poisonous, with accusations of a "deal" by which
Ford got the presidency in return for Nixon getting the

In an

address to Congress on Aug. 12,
Ford had said, "I
don`t want a honeymoon with you, I want a good

But a Congress that had been denied, by Nixon`s
resignation, the pleasure of impeaching, convicting and
expelling him from the White House was in no mood for
romance. Nor was this city, which had just been robbed
of a delicious year-long public trial of the disgraced
former president.

A House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice
directed Ford to

appear on Capitol Hill
to explain the circumstances
of the pardon. Had anything fishy turned up, Congress
would have tried to impeach Ford, so rancid was the
atmosphere in this city.

Partly because of the pardon, the GOP suffered a loss
of 48 House seats that November. In January 1975, a
radical Congress was sworn in,

determined to end all aid to our allies in Southeast
bring about their

, then tear apart the CIA and


In April, Hanoi, with massive Soviet aid, launched an
invasion of South Vietnam. Ford went to Congress to beg
for assistance to our embattled Saigon allies. His
request was rebuffed. Two Democrats walked out of the

Within weeks, South Vietnam and Cambodia had fallen,
and Pol Pot`s holocaust had begun. By summer, tens of
thousands of Vietnamese had been executed, scores of
thousands put into

"re-education camps,"
and the first of hundreds
of thousands had pushed off into the South China Sea,
where many drowned and others met their fate at the
hands of Thai pirates.

Next, Congress went to work on the CIA, with the Pike
committee and the

Church committee
exposing all the evil deeds the
agency had done in the cause of trying to win the Cold

When Ford suggested that New York, the

citadel of liberalism
, might itself be

responsible for its own bankruptcy
—by its cowardice
in the face of

outrageous union demands
—and it was not his duty to
bail out the Big Apple, he was attacked as cruel and

"Ford to City: Drop Dead!"
ran the headline in
the New York Daily News.

Whereupon Jerry Ford

trooped to the rescue
of New York.

By now, however, after Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos had
fallen, and the Soviets were

on the move in Africa
, conservatives had had a
bellyful of detente and its personification, Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger. The presence of Rockefeller a
heartbeat away and the nomination of

John Paul Stevens
to the Supreme Court did not help.

Ronald Reagan
entered the primaries and almost took
the nomination. While he endorsed Ford, he declined to
run with him. Yet President Ford closed a 30-point gap
to 3 points against

Jimmy Carter
, and had he

not declared Eastern Europe not under Soviet domination

in one of the Ford-Carter debates, he might have won an
upset to rival the 1948 comeback of Harry Truman. But it
was not to be.

Gerald Ford was a non-ideological man in an
ideological age, a nice man in nasty times. When he took
the helm, America was as

as she had been since the

era. When he left in 1977, America
had had a unifying Bicentennial of her Declaration of

Though it was no fault of his own,

Gerald Ford
presided over the greatest strategic
defeat in U.S. history since the

loss of China
under Harry Truman. And he had failed
to win election in his own right.

Yet, he saw the country through an evil time, and his
decency showed through throughout.

He was not a great president, but the right man at
the right time, who paid an unjust price for having done
the right thing.



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
readers; his book

State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

can be ordered from