Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies

By Edward D. Berkowitz | Go to book overview

4
The frustrations of Geroid ford

When Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, he bequeathed the presidency to Gerald Ford, whom he had chosen as vice president after Spiro Agnew's resignation in October 1973. Ford became the only president to serve his entire term during the seventies, and his tenure between 1974 and 1977 reflected the distinctive dilemmas of that era. Ford, rather than Nixon or Agnew, faced the immediate consequences of Watergate, the end of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, the oil shock, and the recession. Although he attempted to deal with each of these problems, he achieved only partial success. The recovery that Ford tried to engineer failed to bring the economy up to the level of its postwar performance. Although the oil crisis eased under Ford's watch, it did not disappear. In the realm of foreign policy, Ford had the singular misfortune of being on hand for the final fall of Vietnam and for the unraveling of the policy of detente designed by President Nixon. Ford, in other words, needed to react to emerging problems without the economic resources to solve them and without many new ideas to confront them. He inherited both the problems of the seventies and the solutions of the sixties.


THE RISE OF GERALD FORD

Gerald Ford, who shared many of the features of the postwar presidents, such as wartime service in the Navy, differed from the more ambitious politicians who had run on the 1960 tickets. Unlike his predecessors, Ford had decided to make his career in the House of Representatives. Where

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