Here we are, at the end of 2006. I expect when I fall asleep, it will be the early beginnings of 2007. The sun is out today and the air is cooling again. We will enjoy the leg of lamb marinating for dinner and a celebratory toast welcoming the fresh beginning.
A common thought is that events run in threes, particularly deaths of the well-known. This thought would be proven true by this year's recent events. Winding down the calendar we are witness of the passing of three prominent names: former President Gerald R. Ford; the godfather of soul, James Brown; and in contrast, the very face of evil on earth, Saddam Hussein.
Gerald Ford. The accidental president. President Bush said,"Gerald Ford came along when we needed him most." So true. Ford was a loyal friend and public servant to the American people. He was a politician sorely needed today: one who puts the country's best interests above his own personal interests. By pardoning President Nixon, he virtually assured his failure of being elected to the office of president two years later. He saved our nation from itself, from the self destructive ways of raw partisanship and cynicism running rampant as the behavior of President Nixon was being exposed to the country. Careers were launched by the acts of Nixon, such as journalists tracking down the scoops for newspapers and for politicians bellowing condemnations. Those bellowing loudest over the pardon of Richard Nixon now claim the pardon was the right thing to do. Ted "Swimmer" Kennedy the loudest of all. Not wanting to be left out, Kennedy issued a statement upon Ford's death about the pardon.
At the time, from what I remember, Ford was mocked, heckled, and shown the littlest of respect by the press or the Democrats. I was a student in college, in Atlanta, and was witnessing up close the run for president by our governor, Jimmy Carter. Ford was arguably the last of the truly "bi-partisan" Presidents, yet his reward for reaching out was only truly appreciated publicly upon his death.
The passage of time has a way of clearing the smoke and focusing fresh eyes on events. This is evident throughout history - opinions change of people. Ford was a decent, honorable, truthful man. He was called stupid, bumbling, someone not up to the task. The reality was he was accomplished from achievements like Eagle Scout, star football player for Michigan, elected official, then Vice President and President. He was the last living member of the Warren Commission.
Quite a lot for a man abandoned by this father and adopted by his stepfather at a very young age. He worked for everything he ever achieved and was proud to be a common man. Shame on those given everything on a platter from birth, never working a day, and yet the first to criticize others.
Vice President Cheney, a member of Ford's administration, moved me to tears with his touching eulogy last night at the service in the Rotunda.
I am happy to say I was running around too much yesterday, driving here and there for errands and taking our son to meet friends for the afternoon, that I missed the funeral show for James Brown. He's one of my all time favorites and I sure didn't want to see people like Michael Jackson and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and Dick Gregory using the funeral service in Harlem for their own egos. Yuck. He deserved much better than a public spectacle to celebrate his life. He was booked to perform tonight in NYC. He'll be missed.
And lastly, Saddam Hussein. His hanging will not be proper justice for the estimated million Muslims he killed in his reign of terror. There is no way for proper justice to be carried out against one man. The lawyers all caught up in international law complaining about the trial and swift punishment further prove to me that international trials in the Hague are not the way to go. They end up taking up to four years by the recent example of Milosovich and he ended up dying during it. It was a farce. The Iraqis were entitled to conduct the trial their way and administer their punishment as they saw fit. It was not so much a victory of the U.S. as it was a victory for the Iraqi people. Period.
"Our 38th President will always have a special place in our nation's memory". - President George W. Bush, in a statement issued on the passing of President Ford.