Ford's Awe For The Presidency

It was 25 years ago today that Congressman Gerald Ford, the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, was sworn in as our first unelected vice president to replace Spiro Agnew, who had been forced from office.

With arrogance, Nixon brushed offer the amiable ford as not all that smart and believed Congress would be reluctant to impeach him if it had to replace him with Ford.

It turned out to be the worst insurance buy of all time. Ford didn't do much on the legislative front but his long years in Washington had left him with great respect, even awe for the office that was thrust upon him.

He reminded us that truth is the glue that holds the government together and the tone he set allowed the country to relax, regroup and get back to normal after two years of Watergate.

Later, he would pardon Nixon. I thought then it was the wrong thing to do but I've since come to agree with his reasoning. After Watergate it wasn't worth the trauma of putting the country through a criminal trial of a former president. The pardon probably cost Ford the election, but I always thought he cared more about the presidency than being president.

As we've come to understand, that's a rare commodity, a politician who cares more about an office than holding it.

Reported by Bob Schieffer
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved

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