Of Past and Present Leaders

“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule.�

These words, of course, were uttered more than three decades ago by Gerald Ford upon assuming the presidency. They echo still…though, sadly, they now ring more hollow than true. At the time Ford took office, the American public had been worn down by years of scandal and tragedy—including an unpopular war—presided over by men of boundless arrogance and scant ethics. In short, it was a time not unlike the present.

But no resignation is forthcoming from the current occupant of the White House. No threat of impeachment looms. No one of any solid character and integrity is waiting in the wings. Our long national nightmare is not over.

Upon hearing news of Gerald Ford’s death, President Bush gave a brief statement, in which he offered his condolences and words of praise:

During his time in office, the American people came to know President Ford as a man of complete integrity who led our country with common sense and kind instincts.

Americans will always admire Gerald Ford’s unflinching performance of duty and the honorable conduct of his administration, and the great rectitude of the man himself. [full text]

It is difficult to disagree with this assessment of the former President. It is difficult, also, to imagine any future President eulogizing George W. Bush in such a fashion. To put it mildly, there is a great decency divide between the two leaders.

After Watergate and Vietnam, this nation could do worse than Gerald Ford. And so it has.

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