Gerald Ford

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Robbie Rotten Donald Rumsfeld meets with Ford and Jack Napier his deputy, Cheney, 1975.
God, guns, and freedom
U.S. Politics
Icon politics USA.svg
Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner
Persons of interest
There is no Soviet domination over Eastern Europe
—Oct 6, 1976 in debate with Jimmy Carter[1][note 1]

Gerald Ford (1913–2006) was the 38th President of the United States. He was appointed Vice President by Richard M. Nixon after the resignation of Spiro Agnew. Following Nixon's resignation, Ford assumed the Presidency, an office he held from 1974 to 1977, making him the first and only person to hold the office without winning either a presidential or vice-presidential election. In 1976 he overcame a strong primary challenge from Ronald Reagan and was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the general election.

Richard Nixon said, "I was not elected to be the first American President to lose a war"; instead the job passed to Gerald Ford, who was not elected, to be the first American President to lose a war.

As a representative, Ford was among the Warren Commission, appointed to it by Lyndon Johnson to investigate the JFK assassination. He promoted the flawed "single bullet theory" by making a "slight" crucial change to the text, replacing the original notes from saying that the bullet entered JFK's uppermost back to "back of the neck."[2]


A meeting of minds: Chase & Ford
Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that "I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon."
Hunter S. Thompson[3]

Ford's short term in office is mostly remembered for two things: Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, and his ill-fated initiative "Whip Inflation Now." Mostly though, if you remember the 1970s, you weren't there, which is why Ford isn't remembered for much. Ford may be remembered for being very clumsy, as he tripped and fell down a lot, in spite (or perhaps because) of having been a college football player. This clumsiness was portrayed by Chevy Chase (as Ford) in several skits on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s (the show was a comedy show back then).[note 2] Ben Stein was one of Ford's speechwriters. Ford's second Chief of Staff and then his Secretary of Defense was Donald Rumsfeld (and his third Chief of Staff was You-Know-Who), both of whose careers were resurrected 25 years later by George W. Bush.

A caveat[edit]

Ford was actually one of the last Rockefeller Republican Presidents: he began amnesty programs for Vietnam War draft dodgers, was pro-choice, supported the Equal Rights Amendment, signed a landmark disability education law,[6] and post-presidency called for the GOP to embrace gay rights and acknowledge the Iraq War was a "big mistake." That sanity was immediately thrown out the window, and the abnormally tight primary contest with Reagan foreshadowed that.

Economic policy[edit]

Unlike Richard Nixon who turned to Alan Greenspan when the economy stank, Ford asked songwriter Irving BerlinWikipedia for help and gave an awe-inspiring if not mind-numbing speech announcing the new plan. Renowned for such hits as God Bless America, Alexander's Ragtime Band, and White Christmas, Berlin came up with:

We got to Whip inflation,
WIN inflation,
It's the American way;
Who needs inflation,
Not this nation,
Da dada da dada da...

It was one of Berlin's more labored and less inspired works for which he probably wasn't compensated fairly, but nobody was paid fairly in the 1970s anyway. Asked to explain what was in the President's mind, if anything, the White House Press Secretary wore his WIN pin upside down, claiming it really stood for "No Instant Miracles".

Swine flu mistake[edit]

One of Ford's biggest screw-ups as President came in the form of his handling of a Swine Flu epidemic that swept the nation in 1976. Fears of a global pandemic were common, and unwarranted regarding this particular strain. The administration rushed a vaccine out, and many people ended up getting a shot they didn't actually need, with some of them getting side-effects like Guillain-Barre syndrome from the vaccination.[7]

Manchurian Candidate[edit]

Although not often remembered or remarked upon outside of particular conspiracy theory circles, Ford, although a virtually unknown Representative from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was appointed a member of the investigation team that produced the Warren Commission Report, the "official" version of the events surrounding the John F. Kennedy assassination. Did this have anything to do with his later becoming President of the United States? Even Oliver "LBJ Killed JFK" Stone won't touch this one with a ten-foot-pole—though Coast to Coast AM is still promoting the idea fifty years later.

Punch Drunk Gov[edit]

A persistent rumor promulgated by, among others, Lyndon B. Johnson, has it that Ford could not chew gum and walk at the same time. Since walking and chewing are pretty much automatic reflexes, it must be said: Ford really was able to chew and walk simultaneously. But it has also been said that his head had had too many close encounters with a football — it's not really a ball, but who cares — and the jury may still be out on that one.

The impeachment he did support[edit]

Although Ford is now infamous for his role in saving Nixon's ass from the worst possible situation, he actually tried to get an impeachment off the ground back in 1970. Specifically, Ford tried to get Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas removed from office. His reason? He thought not enough southerners were being allowed on the court by Democrats, so he thought removing a Democrat would fix this somehow.[8] He infamously attempted to defend this by saying "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers [it] to be at a given moment in history.”[9]


  1. To be fair, Ford mentioned three countries explicitly, Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland. The first two were certainly dictatorships but not really under Soviet domination. Poland was as was the rest of communist Europe - except Albania. On the other hand, the interview does merit repeated watching if only to see Carter and the moderator's very bemused expressions.
  2. Ford actually showed a public enjoyment of these spoofs of him.[4] After his death in 2006, Chase recalled “Later on we became friends and he was a very, very sweet man.”[5]