THIRTY-SEVEN

Gerald R. Ford
1974-77

Gerald R. ("Jerry") Ford (b. 1913) was the first man to become President by appointment rather than by election. Appointed Vice- President by President Nixon when Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace, he became the thirty-seventh President of the United States when Nixon himself resigned under threat of impeachment. "He was," as his wife Betty put it, "an accidental Vice President, and an accidental President, and in both jobs he replaced disgraced leaders."1 Not long after he became President, Ford took a vacation in Vail, Colorado, to do some skiing. One night when he was eating dinner with his family, one of the dogs had an accident, and a red-jacketed White House steward rushed over to wipe up the mess. But Ford got up from the table at once, took the rag away from the steward, and cleaned the floor himself. "No man," he said, "should have to clean up after another man's dog." Ford's gesture was typical. Goodnatured, unpretentious, and easygoing, he was anxious to show that there was nothing "imperial" about his Presidency. 2

Ford was "Mr. Nice Guy." He was, someone said, a "Boy Scout in the White House." By his own admission, he was "disgustingly sane." 3"The nicest thing about Jerry Ford," said Michigan Senator Robert P. Griffin, "is that he just doesn't have enemies."4 Even Congressman Paul ("Pete") McCloskey of California, who opposed Ford on vital issues, thought well of him. "I can get tears in my eyes," he said, "when I think about Jerry Ford. We love him."5

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