Ford was what we needed
At a time when national angst raged, Gerald Ford seemed just what the good doctor ordered. He brought a Mr. Rogers balming trustworthiness to a country torn asunder by the twin traumas of Vietnam and Watergate.
Admittedly, my admiration of Ford has evolved. Though I genuinely liked the man, at the time I felt his pardoning of Nixon was wrong, as no man should be above the law.
Though recent revelations of Ford's lifelong secret friendship with Nixon raise concerns, overall, age and 20-20 hindsight makes me think wisdom prevailed. As no man stands above the law, also no man stands above national good. A protracted trial to punish Nixon would have further wracked America.
Ford was no towering historical giant. Self-deprecating, he admitted to being a Ford, not a Lincoln. Though one observer aptly called Ford a brilliant mind wrapped in a brown paper bag, he was no trailblazer.
Ford didn't end the Great Depression, foster the Marshall Plan, pioneer the Peace Corps or send us to the moon, author the Civil Rights Act, open China and establish detente, nor bring down the Iron Curtain. Like Lincoln, though, he was a sure and steady unifier and a bedrock of American values, championing native optimism and common decency.
Perhaps the '70s were one of those times when tried and true trumped the exotic, and truth rang clearly in "wouldn't you rather drive a Ford?"