Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Go Blue

The death of Gerald Ford, America’s only unelected President, brings to mind a number of things. He gets credit for healing the country in the wake of Richard Nixon’s impeachment, but his pardon of Nixon left wounds which never healed. While basically a decent man and a solid politician, he was thoroughly ill equipped to be President, getting the job because, in the wake of Spiro Agnew’s resignation, Nixon needed someone who would be approved quickly by Congress, and who better than the House minority leader? As President he pardoned Nixon, fought inflation by suggest people wear buttons with the letters WIN on them, for Whip Inflation Now (seriously, he did that), and ended the Vietnam War – not that he had a choice there, since we had lost. This is not a sterling record, yet his moderation looks so, well, decent in retrospect that we yearn for that kind of person in the White House.
He was an All-American football player at the University of Michigan and never forgot those roots. We think of red and blue states by their modern designation, especially since the sharpness of the divide encapsulates the political nature of America in the twenty-first century. But that designation came from the TV networks on election night, not from any historical nature. In England, the Conservative Party (the Tories) has blue as its color, the left-wing Labour Party uses red – in fact, the phrase “true blue” comes from an electoral area which is solidly, unchangeably, Tory. So when color TV was invented it was natural, given the political antecedents, for the networks to assign blue to the Republicans and red to the Democrats. The 1976 election was very close, as Jimmy Carter took most of the eastern states, and Ford rallied as they headed west. Late in the evening, Ford was being interviewed by one of the networks and when the nature of the network’s electoral map, red in the large eastern states with more and more blue as they went west, Ford responded as any loyal Wolverine would – “Go Blue!”
Ford’s blue rally fell short that night, and subsequently, the networks reversed the colors, I assume because they didn’t feel comfortable using red to designate the Democrats with a hard-core anti-communist like Reagan as the Republican nominee. I can’t imagine a modern Presidential candidate doing that kind of open interview on election night with the race still up in the air. I think we all miss his kind of decent partisanship – clearly rooting for his party, supporting his ideas, without destroying the other guy.


Blogger Robert Boehm said...

Mr. Rubinowitz:

President Nixon was never impeached. If you're going to publish stories and represent them as factual - GET IT RIGHT!

You should be ashamed for your facutal inaccuracies. Can't you do better than this?

9:14 AM  
Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

Mr. Boehm

Thank you for reading and responding. You are correct, President Nixon was not impeached. The House Judiciary Committee sent a Bill of Impeachment to the full House, which would have easily passed it had Mr. Nixon not been told by members of his own party that both impeachment and conviction were inevitable and that resignation ws the best choice. His resignation did indeed prevent his impeachment. I apologize for the error and hope you continue visiting this site and join in the discussion.

10:52 AM  
Blogger samG said...

It's kind of funny; Clinton goes in to the history books as being impeached for being less than honest in a deposition regarding sex and Nixon was not impeached despite subverting and intentionally undermining the Constitution. It makes one wonder about the efficacy of American politics.

Regarding Gerald Ford, I guess the last 6 weeks of 2006 were not good for Michigan football or its alumnae. Ford was a good man who suffered, in public perception, from a slow, inarticulate speaking style; sort of an Al Gore without a sufficient vocabulary. Still, for two years in office, he can hardly be blamed for sour period in the American century.

1:26 PM  

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