Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Accidental President

What's the post-Boxing Day juice?
Gerald Ford is dead. He was the longest lived US President, at 93 years and 122 days, and achieved the office (which he held from 1974 to 1976) without winning an election (a precedent set for Republicans to follow in 2000).

How'd he get there then?
Well, Ford, as vice-President, took over from Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon, when the latter resigned in disgrace after the Watergate affair.

Hang on, wasn't he voted in as VP?
Nope, GF wasn't originally elected as Richard Nixon's vice-President. That privilege belonged to Spiro Agnew (amusing anagram: "Grow a penis"), who discharged his duty with honour and integrity until, er, he resigned in disgrace amid tax evasion and money laundering charges. Who says lightning never strikes twice, eh? Perhaps Ford was the grass...

Did he do a good job?
Well, he was the original "safe pair of hands" to take over in a crisis, and heaven knows America had enough of those in 1974. As well as being the honest caretaker manager who manned the fort in the wake of Watergate, he also presided over the end of the Vietnam War and the infamous flight from Saigon (helicopters taking off from the US embassy roof). In those circumstances he did admirably and restored an amount of dignity and self-respect to a beleaguered nation.

And in '76?
He lost to former peanut baron, Jimmy Carter. So he wasn't a miracle worker.

Anything else of note?
Not much, I think he thought the longevity record was his most likely legacy and he invested most of his time going for it, but some people might remember the Simpsons episode where George and Barbara Bush move in opposite Homer and Marge. Homer and Bush Sr don't get on, and a serious feud develops. In the end, the Bushes move out and Gerald Ford moves in. Happily, he and Homer are like two peas in a pod - both tripping on the kerb as they walk off for a beer (D'oh!).

His wife inhaled, right?

Damn straight. Inhaled, imbibed, injected etc.
Gerald Ford was married to Betty Ford, she of the drying out clinic. She conquered her demons and helped others beat theirs. I'm sure there's a joke about ex-alcoholics and drug users in the Whitehouse to be written somewhere.

Clearly not here! A final one-liner, perhaps?
An oldie, but that's probably appropriate: Being a Ford, you know what to wear for the funeral (any colour as long as it's black).

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