Saturday, December 30, 2006

Farewell, President Ford

The passing of President Gerald R. Ford may be the prelude to a watershed moment in American politics. For this weekend, as we close this year, the last, best hope for civil American discourse is remembered and buried. Americans, and for that matter citizens of the world, would do well to pause and examine those tumultuous months Gerald Ford occupied the Oval Office. Here was a man who sacrificed his own political career in the best interest of a nation. Here is a man who rose above politics to stand by his friend, Richard M. Nixon in his darkest hours.

A new generation of Americans has come into the American political landscape devoid of the civility and integrity Gerald Ford espoused. Tonight, as his body enters the Nation’s Capitol one last time, members of Congress would do well to recall a time when bipartisan discourse was civil. This week, as a nation remembers President Ford and his impact on history, let us ask ourselves, “What can I do?” Gerald Ford reluctantly left his beloved Congress to serve as Vice President. He reluctantly assumed the cloak of the Presidency in our nation’s most uncertain moment. He solidly lived behind his decision to grant pardon to an embattled, broken predecessor. Gerald Ford is the last of a dead breed. Honor, integrity and American pride are all but dead.

One cannot help but imagine Gerald Ford entering the Gates of Heaven being greeted by Mike Mansfield, Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan. One can easily imagine that as they greet each other, they express disdain on what we’ve become in America. What happened to honor? What happened to integrity? What happened to reasonable, unbridled civil discourse? What can we do, as individual Americans, to get us back to that point? Is it too late? Has technology and big business so overtaken our senses that we’ve forgotten the human condition? And to the party he so loved, one must ask, “when will we stop this nonsense?” When shall we return to the roots of the Republican cause? The party of Gerald R. Ford is not as it was and that, my friends, is an insult to the service Gerald R. Ford delivered to America.

Mr. President, thank you. You were the first candidate for the presidency for whom I voted back in 1976. For 40 years many of us have believed that you were short changed by politically driven harlots dressed in the patriotic red, white and blue. Republicans in the heartland and in the urban centers Across America, remember. Take a lesson from the Ford playbook and take this Grand Old Party back. Let us gather at that city on a hill and proclaim that we will no longer stand for the divide in our Nation’s Capitol. Let us proclaim from the wheat fields of Nebraska to the oil fields in Alaska that we will not stand for this derision any longer. Let us, guided by the quiet grace of Gerald Ford’s example, rise up and take America back -- if not for the memory of Gerald R. Ford, but for ourselves.

Mr. President, Godspeed on your journey home. This is one American who is eternally grateful.

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