His humility and moderate leadership were just the thing this nation needed after going through its worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War. While he still gets dismissed by historians, I believe that his steady, nondescript leadership played a big part in turning the nation around after Watergate. When he took office, Ford said that “our long national nightmare is over,” and this simple guy from Michigan played an important part in waking us up. Though he’d be a RINO in modern political calculus, a know a lot of people who would agree we could use more Gerald Fords in public life.
And what of his pardoning of Nixon, which must be mentioned? Some years ago, even the Clintons agreed that Ford made the right choice, despite the fact that young Hillary Rodham was working for the Watergate committee. The decision certainly cost him the 1976 election, which was a lot closer than people remember. How many politicians these days would make a moral decision knowing it would cost them an election? Call me a cynic and a nostalgist, but beyond Jerry Ford the list seems very, very short.