President Gerald Ford Has Died
Few men have been so unwanted, so ridiculed, so dismissed, as 38th US President Gerald Ford, whose death at the age of 93, has just been announced on 26 December 2006.
And so few men have lived such a charmed life, as this handsome, bluff, earnest gentleman from Michigan, the last surviving member of the equally ridiculed, Warren Commission.
He was the All-American Boy, if ever there was one.
Born to a humble, not to say poor background in Nebraska, but whose athletic skills and self-effacing personality won him the adulation of his school peers, male and female, the man whose birth name was Leslie Lynch King, Jr. soon left with his battered mother to start up life anew in Michigan, aged a mere 2 years.
Though he succeeded President Richard M. Nixon in the most trying hand-over of Executive power the United States had ever seen to date, and he served his country in the same way he lived it (without fanfare, in the good ole Midwestern manner), it's possible that becoming US President was not his finest hour.
That moment, he would one day relate to a presidential biographer, was when he was seated in a Grand Rapids movie theatre, when it was announced that he had been elected the Most Popular Student in his entire city.
Let's hope the echoes of those youthful cheers in that movie-theatre, sustained him during the SNL skits, the Watergate pardon hubbub, the sneers of Washingtonians more taken with style over character.
Life was not kind to Gerald Ford. But he made it despite everything ranged against him.
He was the American Dream. RIP.