Gerald Ford has died.
Ford has been on my mind a bit lately. Partly because I noticed that we hadn’t seen him much any more (something that I reflect on when looking at his book on humor and the presidency). Partly because he had just achieved being the oldest living ex-president ever. And partly because, well, I’m looking into a possible project about how we select our presidents, and him having achieved that rank without ever winning a national election makes him an important example of much of what can happen.
He wasn’t a great president in either of the meanings of that. He was a mild president, meek, a caretaker of an office he was rather oddly thrust into. He did not try large things, and often I wish I could say the same about some of our other presidents. But more importantly, he didn’t do much of anything at a time when not doing much of anything was a vital step toward restoring some confidence in the presidency
Of course, all of that helped make him joke fodder… but in the long run, he was known as the president that both accepted and appreciated the humorous aspects of the job. As best as I can tell, he was a good man.
So now we’re down to having three ex-presidents (which is three more than what we had just before Ford took office), and at this point all three are active forces for good. They’re in position where they can inspire, but not where they can do much damage, and we’re better off having them right there. Now if we can get a president of that quality…