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January 20, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-01-20

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ATER TODAY GERALD R. FORD will cease to be
President of these United States.
The cold wintry day in Washington, D.C. will mark
the end of the political career of a quiet, unassuming
man who spent 25 years in near anonymity before his
unprecedented rise to the hotseat of a post-Nixon pre-
sidency. He is the only man from Michigan to ever as-
cend to the presidency, and only the second man in
modern times to lose it as an incumbent.'But as the
Carter administration becomes a reality, let us reflect
a bit on the unique career of Gerald R. Ford.
Back in ancient times, a president named Richard
Nixon and a vice-president named Spiro Agnew had
themselves a group of scandals that have become col-
lectively known as "Watergate". A separate scandal and
criminal investigation about some shady construction
contracts he was involved in as Governor of Maryland
forced Agnew to resign. In his search for a replacement
Nixon knew that he must find a man above reproach.
A person so scrupulously honest, so morally righteous
that not even the most vociferous Watergate critics
could object. And so it was that Ford became vice-
president of the United States.
Watergate eventually became too much; and Nixon
resigned as President. Amid a time of tumult, confusion,
and discouragement, Ford succeeded 'Sir Richard' and
strove to return the nation to normalcy. At first, the
country breathed a sigh of relief. It now had a Presi-
dent who was a down-to-earth-guy-from-next-door,
free from any major scandal. He was an amiable fellow
who made his own breakfast, took a daily swim, and
fell down on ski slopes. He was free from the ambition,
secrecy, and court intrigues that so permeated the Nix
on administration.
The rosy picture evaporated with the flames of
criticism over his pardon of Nixon. The guy from next
door became a klutz. A recession, endless vetoes, the ap-
pointment of Nelson Rockefeller to Vice-President, and
the CIA scandal caused more controversy. He won some
brief moral victories with his handling of the Mayazuez
affair, his trips to several foreign nations including
China, and his escapes from two assassins, but more
and more, much of the nation painted him as a stupid,
clumsy ignoramus whondepended on Rockefeller and
Kissinger for running the government while he dusted
his can with snow at Vail.
By mid-summer of last year, confidence irn Ford
had sunk to an appalling low. The Democrats were
ready to inaugurate Carter directly after his nomina-
tion, and Ronald ("Bedtime for Bonzo") Reagan ral-
lied enough dissatisfied Republicans behind his banner
to come within a few votes of wresting the nomination
from Ford. But Ford still managed to pull his party up
from these depths and to make the presidential elec-
tion a horserace. After his loss, he remained on as be-
fore, still making the same unpopular decisions and
It is true-that the Ford administration yielded
many disappointments. Yet, while the Democrats may
say that they could have saved us from Watergate,
Ford certainly saved us after it. He became President
of a United States disgusted with itself and ridiculed
abroad. In two years he managed to lead us back to a
point where we could once again respect ourselves and
enjoy prestige abroad. He brought integrity, honesty,
and dignity back to the Presidency after Nixon had de-
termined that they were not politically expedient.
He managed to stop the downturn in the economy
even though the supply of jobs could barely keep up
with the number of people looking for them. Inflation
Mlowed down to a manageable rate.
He eliminated much of the secrecy previously
clouding the operation of the government and dared
to debate Carter in the open during the campaign.
There is still a great deal of room for improvement,
but these are admirable accomplishments in light of
$he difficult circumstances under which he labored.
Nixon left himan economy on the verge of collapse and
runaway Inflation; the double whammy of near de-
pression with near hyper-nflation shocked the econo-
my into a numbed stupor from which it is only now re-

covering. Secrecy was so pervasive that it was Imipos-
sible for some high officials to find out what their sub-
ordinates were up to. Much of the Nixon clique regard-
ed him with suspicion and as an outsider.
Yet he managed to bring us back onto an even
keel. There is still a long road and much hard work
ahead of us until we reach our goals of full employ-
ment, livable cities, balance between energy supply and
demand, and a brake to the arms race dilemma; Ford
realizes that, and Carter is beginning to. Despite the
mistakes he may or may not have made, he did what he
sincerely thought was best for the country and wvhat he
felt reflected strong and decent leadership. Charisma
he lacked, but we needed more than a charasmatic
leader. We needed a man with his character, a trust-
worthy human being, after the traumas of the reign of
Nixon. Even after his election loss, he retained his
sense of duty, working closely with the Carter transi-
tion team so that the transfer today will be a smooth
one, and Introducing controversial legislation which he
felt the new team would need to have Initiated anyway,.
thereby drawing fire from the new President until he
settles in.
Finally, Gerald Ford very probably saved the two-
party system which at least keeps the party in power
reasonably honest. Many of us have our gripes with the
Republicans, but the same often applies to the Demo-
crats as well. By keeping the Republican Party from
going ideologically overboard with Reagan, he has kept
alive a viable alternative to the Democrat Party, which,
contrary to the chantings of its Palsgrafs, Is not the
best of all possible parties. He has averted a one-party
hegemony, the stuff totalitarianism is made of-.
Mr. Ford has perhaps not been an outstanding
President and has often tended toward mediocrity. His
blanket pardon of Richard Nixon will go down In his-
tory as one of our greatest political atrocities, and for
that we cani never forgive him. Yet, throwing aside
ideology, he has brought back to government an essen-
tial ingredient: good character. Too, he managed to
keep the country afloat. Aniother person may well have
done better, and seeing him go may cause few regrets,
but Ford certainly has done a creditable and respect-
able job, one deserving of thanks.

come the 39th president of the United States.
He came out of the South with sparse national
recognition and ,a mere four years as governor of
Georgia under his belt, and confounded the political
pundits with triumph after triumph in the early pri-
Mixing the charisma of Jack Kennedy and the
biblical proverbs of William Jennings Bryan, he took
his case and his smile to the people - and the re-
sponse was overwhelming. Fed up with the Washing-
ton political bureaucracy and the graft of the Nixon
years, the public sought a leader without the tra-
ditional ties to either the House or the Senate. And
Carter was the right man at the right time.
His astounding ascent to the presidency gave cre-
dence to the old adage that any little boy can be-
come president. He grew up on a peanut farm, which
he later built into a $1 million enterprise. He gradu-
ated from the Naval Academy and after serving as
a navy nuclear research engineer he returned home
to Plains, where he soon launched his political ca-
reer with a victory in a school board election. After
that came the state legislature and finally, in 1970,
he beat out Lester Maddox for the governorship -
hardly the traditional beginings of a future presi-
But the American people weren't in the market
for a traditional president, and Jimmy Carter sensed
this mood. They admired his honesty and candor, and
were wooed by his sermonesque speeches and prom-
ises to bring a businessman's efficiency to the red
tape jungle known as government.
Now Mr. Outside is on the inside - part of the
Washington establishment he fought against - and
he has the chance to make believers of us all.
He has assumed the leadership of this country
in one of its most trying hours. Unemployment is
still hovering near a frightening 8 per cent, our ma-
jor cities are approaching bankruptcy while they de-
cay in a morrass of crime, the nation's poor are cry-
ing out for a comprehensive health care program
while the defense budget remains staggeringly high
and a recession looms over our heads.
Carter had promises to cover all of these issues
during the campaign. He told us he would reduce
unemployment to 3.5 per cent, he earmarked more
aid for major cities, he called for a $5 to $7 billion
cut in the defense budget, and he said he favors
national health care.
But now it is time to shelve the rhetoric and
act. As the first elected president since the Nixon
debacle, it is essential that Carter keep the public
trust by keeping his promises to us. He must con-
tinue Gerald Ford's trend of honesty and openness
in government, but couple it with the strong, com-
passionate leadership that Ford lacked.
Already liberals and blacks have become disen-
chanted with him. The honeymoon may be over be-
fore it starts if he continues along his present, re-
gressive path. He promised to "add new faces to
government," and he promised that women and mi-
norities would be well-represented, but so far we've
seen too many holdovers from other administrations.
True, HUD secretary Patricia Harris and, Commerce
secretary Juanita Kreps conveniently provide two
women and one black, but this is more than off-
set by the nomination of Georgian Griffin Bell for
Attorney General, which sets civil rights back 10
years. Joseph Califano as HEW secretary is a traves-
ty, and the retention of Nixonite James Schlesinger
is a questionable choice.

He has backed down too, on his promises of a
defense budget cut, and a significantly lower unem-
ployment rate. Now he won't even guarantee that
defense spending won't increase in the face of the
revelations that we may be the Avis to the U.S.S.R.'s
Hertz. And his 3.5 per cent unemployment goal has
risen to 6.5!
But he has also made some advances.
The decision to make Vice-president Walter Mon-
dale the chief staff person of the White House is
a breath of fresh air to all of us who remember
the Haldeman/Ehrlichman cabal. Mondale is a proven
liberal who will keep a watchful eye on White House
activity atd do away with the sinister cloud of se-
crecy that still looms over the executive mansion,
courtesy of Richard Nixon and company.
Andrew Young should prove to be an excellent
addition to the United Nations in this time of in-
ternational turmoil on all fronts. We only wish Car-
ter had been as perceptive in his cabinet choices.
And finally, Carter's amnesty plan will end once
and for all the Vietnam War.
What lies 'ahead is as difficult to predict as is
our new president himself, and we will hazard no
guesses. But with the country at so crucial a cross-
roads and so desperately in need of a bold, new,
trustworthy leader, Jimmy Carter has the opportu-
nity to be one of our greatest presidents, and as he
leads us into the next four years we wish him well,
and hope that he can live up to all of our expec-
Today's editorials were written by Ken Parsigian and Ion
Pansius. The artwork was done by Keith Richburg and Mark
News: Susan Ades, Tim Schick, Jim Tobin, Sue Warner
Editorial Page: Michael Beckman, Jon Pansius, K e n
Parsigian, Keith Richburg
Arts Page: Lois Josimovich
Photo Technician: Brad Benjamin

I _

Ae £id aDn Iail
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Thursday, January 20, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552

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