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tv   The Presidency Gerald R. Fords Political Career  CSPAN  June 30, 2021 8:48pm-9:49pm EDT

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totals put the number killed at 36 historians now believe the toll was as high as 300 35 blocks of the city were left in ruins. on thursday beginning at 8pm eastern on american history tv. we explore the consequences of that day's events. next on the presidency scott kaufman talks about his book ambition pragmatism and party a political biography of gerald r ford. he discusses mr. ford's life before and after his presidency detailing how his approach to human rights factored into foreign policy and how environmental issues influenced domestic policy. he also reflects on president ford's pardon of richard nixon in light of current political events, the gerald r ford presidential museum hosted this hour-long program. reflection technical assistance good evening. welcome to the ford presidential
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museum. my name is joel westfall and as my honor to serve here as the deputy director and welcome you on behalf of the archivist of the united states. we're very pleased to have you with us for tonight's program. tonight our future speaker is scott kaufman. who was a francis marion university board of trustees scholar and chair of the history department where he teaches american diplomatic and military history here in this doctorate at ohio university the other ohio university. in 2014. kaufman was awarded a ford presidential foundation research travel gap. much of the research for this book that he wrote came from the archives. and manuscript collections of the ford library and ann arbor and he is grateful also for the assistance from president ford's son steve. he is the author coauthor and editor of 11 books on us foreign and foreign policy and diplomacy and history of the presidency and first ladies a few of his publications include project plowshare the peaceful use of
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nuclear explosives in the cold war america the presidency of james earl carter jr. and rosalind carter equal partner in the white house. among many others. kaufman is currently writing a monograph on the environment and international dipulacy due to be released in december of 2018. kaufman is currently scott cough is a featured expert on the subjects of the carter administration cold war us foreign policy the ford administration nuclear testing and the office of the first lady. with regard to scott kaufman's new book ambition pragmatism and party smu senator for presidential history director, jeffrey eagle stated. no one understands the american political scene of the 1970s that swirling chaotic disparating and transformational decade that continues to befuddle and fascinate historians like scott kaufman. it is my great pleasure to welcome scott kaufman to the ford presidential museum.
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thank you very much for having me. there are so many people i would like to thank as briefly go through the list of some of the individuals who've been so helpful to bring me here and have been so kind and generous to me. of course, joe restfall don holloway kristen mooney joe cavallarusso kate murray have all just been so generous to me the national archives recognistration, and of course in addition to joe, i've got to mention the ford foundation the gerald ford our ford foundation because i really i think at the safely say without their support this project i would not have gotten off the ground. i should also point out that it's great to be back here in grand rapids. this is my second time here. i was here doing what i was doing research for the ford ford book back in 2014. had a chance to come to grand
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rapids and i really love this city. it is such a vibrant city. it is great to be here and downtown the library which on the museum which is a wonderful addition to this downtown area, and i encourage people have not been to grand rapids to come here because again it furniture city really is quite wonderful. this talk itself. i think is timely. if gerald ford was alive today, i think he'd be having a case of deja vu let's just look at some of the facts. the incumbent president is under investigation by a special counsel. there are questions where the president was involved in a conspiracy. there are questions whether the president obstructed justice. john deans seems to be everywhere on television all of a sudden. and at least one member of congress and there's even a national ad campaign. i've been calling for the president's impeachment. now, of course the deja vote to
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which i'm referring are the events tied to the watergate scandal and richard nixon's resignation. events that propelled jill 4 into the presidency. but there's one other memory that i think forward likely recall. some media outlets have wondered whether donald trump will offer pardons for those individuals involved in the scandals surrounding as presidency. just last month time magazine speculated that trump might offer a pardon for his personal attorney michael cohen before cohen has been charged with a crime justice ford did for nixon and i want to come back to this issue of the presidential pardon because it does play such a big role in the way ford is remembered and i think it's something that we need to talk about with regard to how ford should be remembered. which brings me to the book ambition pragmatism and party? there are a few broad comments like to make about this book
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before i get into more specifics. although the subtitle is a political biography of jailed r ford. i would suggest to you. it's more than that. it is also a many respects a study of the republican party certainly from the time that gerald ford intercongress. well because elected to congress in 1948 to the time he passed away in 2006. second of all as joe westfall mentioned. i relied on a wide variety of source material for this book, of course the records the ford library were essential. but i turned as well to nearly a dozen other archives some of them with the assistance of a colleague of mine dr. alyssa waters alongside government documents memoirs magazines newspapers journals, secondary works and and again at times the hill doctor waters a good number of interviews with members of congress as well as with steve ford who was wonderful in speaking with me.
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thirdly while lot has been written about president ford far less has been written about his pre-presidential and post-presidential career. and i wanted to give more time. to his life before the presidency and afterward his upbringing his his time in congress his life as an ex-president. and so readers of the book will find that about two-thirds of it is devoted not to for the president before upbringing forward the congress person for the ex-president. and last but not least. i think that popular culture can say a lot about the times which people lived. and so readers are going to find in the book references to tv shows to movies to books. such as the films the towering inferno and airport 1975 the books the catcher in the rye and the man that way final suit. and the tv programs ozzie and
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harriet the simpsons, and yes, of course saturday night live. so what are the book come about? around 2011 i was asked by peter covenney who worked for the publisher wiley blackwell to edit a series of essays on the ford and carter administrations. i've done a lot of work on jimmy carter. i've been working on him for many years. i felt i knew the historiography quite well. a new far less about gerald ford so i began to do a lot of reading about him. and i realized that there was room for a biography of him another one. there have been only two biographies written of him since his passing in 2006. one of them came out in 2007 by doug brinkley another one in 2014 by james cannon who some of you may know worked with a gerald ford. but i felt that both of them less than stones unturned left room for their biography. so i contacted fred woodward who was then work chief editor at the university press of kansas.
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i said to him. i'd like to write a biography of jail ford. what do you think he said great idea. and the rest is history, and hence the book came out late last year. the book itself the title the book reflects what i see as three themes that in my view addresses ford's political life. number one ambition ford was an ambitious individual in boy scouts, he worked to become an eagle scout. he played football in high school and in college and start sought to become a starting center on the varsity teams. in the us navy he sought to rise up the ranks of the warship on which he served. in congress he wanted to become house speaker. he enjoyed being president of the united states and sought to win the presidency in his own right in 1976. he considered running for the presidency again in 1980 and then considered being ronald reagan's running mate that same year.
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and as an ex-president, he served on numerous corporate boards as well as commitment very involved in politics party gerald ford was a lifelong republican who was a member of the moderate wing of that party and he was loyal to the republican party, but i should point out that loyalty meant that at times he changed his positions on the issues, which i'll say more about your momentarily. and last but not least pragmatism. ford was loyal to his party, but he wasn't an ideologue. he was willing to reach across party lines. grand rapids his hometown was and i believe still is a city mocked by what scholars and ford's contemporaries have referred to as a midwestern form of conservatism. this meant limited government. it meant fiscal frugality. it meant piety but of a
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non-fundamental assort. it also meant political moderation. pragmatism and a willingness to reach across party lines a willingness to compromise and this could be seen in ford as a member of congress and as a president. and even as next president he was willing to reach across party lines by setting a precedent working with another former ex-president a democrat jimmy carter. so let me talk more about gerald ford and some of the things i talk about in the book and tie them into these broader themes of ambition pragmatism and party. ford's personality and political views were shaped in my mind by a variety of factors number one his mother dorothy. dorothy ford formerly was dorothy king she had married a man named leslie lynch king but leslie lynch king was an abuse of husband and abusive father.
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he abused dorothy both mentally and physically and even threatened the life of their newborn child and it reached the point that dorothy decided. she had no choice but to flee him and seek a divorce that she did. we have to keep in mind just how brave this is of dorothy. during much of the 1900s the idea of getting divorced especially when children was involved was stigmatized. but for dorothy this had to be done not only for her own welfare, but the welfare of her young child, and so dorothy became to her son the person who became jailed our for junior an example a symbol of strength and perseverance. especially in times when facing terrible odds gerald ford senior whom dorothy married in 1917 and the person whom jailed our four junior believed? at least until his teen years
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was his biological father and even when he found out that ford senior was a stepfather still saw ford as his father. it was gerald ford senior who introduced his jerry and his three step brothers to sports including football. it was gerald ford's senior who opened up his own business in october of 1929, which is probably the worst timing possible. because of course as we know that same month the stock market crashed and the great depression set in yet. gerald ford senior was able to keep his business running without government support. he became too to the younger ford and example of strength and perseverance when facing terrible odds. he also influenced the younger ford's ideas. that one should seek to make ends meet without relying on government assistance. in addition to the examples of
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strength and perseverance they provided. ford's parents were all so religiously devout that two influenced forward but one thing about the ford family is it was it was an more of a personal spirituality? they weren't overt about it. but they were certainly very devout. and last but not least the forward parents insisted that their children do their chores and be honest. and that doing chores tied in was something else about gerald ford. he had a very strong work ethic. gerald ford once said the harder you work the luckier you are. in other words hard work will pay off debit dividends in the end and indeed. he was someone who worked very hard at what he did. and finally, we have to look at the influence of boy scouts in football. both of them taught him to work as part of a team. football the sport that ford came to love taught him not to
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get upset when you lose instead when things don't go well in the field and you lose pick yourself up pull yourself up by your bootstraps dust yourself off and prepared as hard as you possibly can for the next game. so here's an individual beliefs. in strength and perseverance and not relying on government support was a strong work ethic. but there are two of the things about four that should be mentioned. first of all, he could be stubborn. and second of all he could be naive. ford once said that no matter how bad a person seemed there had to be good in that person. and what you had to do is try to look for and pull out that good. the thing was though that sometimes in the search for the good ford overlooked the bad. and that too could cause him difficulties at times. well ford's ambitiousness this
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first theme can be seen repeatedly. as noted he wanted to become and became an eagle scout. he sought to become the starting center of the varsity football team both in high school and college and did that. in fact at the university of michigan, he played well enough that he was offered the opportunity to play pro football. but you don't want to do football. he decided he wanted to go on a different career path. he wanted to go into law. once again through hard work through perseverance. ford was able. to start achieving that goal. he clawed his way into yale law school and afterward returned to grand rapids to practice law and began to think about a political career as well. but before he could go anywhere with politics. the attack on pearl harbor took place the japanese attack on pearl harbor and december 7th 1941. like many americans ford wanted to serve his country in this war fight against the enemy.
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he was at first he joined the us navy was at first assigned to the home front didn't want to be there. he wanted to be out in the field fighting the enemy and he was able to get himself a sign to the us aircraft light aircraft carrier monterey. originally was assigned as a gunnery officer, but he didn't want to be a gunnery officer. he wouldn't be on the bridge where the action was. through perseverance through hard work and through some luck. he was able to become assistant navigation officer on the monterey. after the war ended he would return back to the states as lieutenant come as a lieutenant commander gerald ford. he returns to grand rapids. and goes back into law. but by then he is definitely interested in politics. in 1940 before the war well before the us entered the war. ford had wanted to work with the window for the window wilkie campaign the republican nominee for president here one works that campaign here in michigan.
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the problem was that if you want to be able for the wilkie campaign, he would have to get the support of the local party boss a guy named frank mckay. ford went to see mckay spent about three hours waiting to see mckay and mckay gave him about three minutes of his time and then seemed to have what have nothing to do wanted nothing to do with the young ford. that's a very sour taste in fort's mouth. ford would end up working for the wilkie campaign in new york. became enamored with politics. and after the war was over he decided he comes back to grand rapids joins a law firm here, but decides in 1948 that he wants to run. for the fifth district which at that time included grand rapids serve his state in the us house representative. now he knows it's a long shot. because he's gonna have to take on the incumbent. and fellow republican and member of the mckay political machine a man named frank yonkman. ford also has one of the things
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he has to worry about. some of i should say this. i don't know the worrying about it would be the right way to put it but he fell in love. now if you're asking why worry about falling in love, well the issue was he had fallen in love with a woman who was getting a divorce. her name was betty warren. she thought he was crazy for wanting to be involved with a divorce say especially these running for congress in a conservative district. he didn't care. he loved her. she loved him. after she got divorced along thereafter, they decided to get married, but ford said to her our marriage is going to have to wait the wedding will have to wait until the fall of 1948 didn't explain why. but the reason was simple. ford knew that if he could defeat jankman in the republican primary that he should be able to win the general election without any problem. the fifth district had gone democrat only once between 1920 and 1948. so he can get past yankman. he should be able to win the general election.
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well sure enough. in an upset one that received national attention ford defeated jonathan in the republican primary. afterward married betty ford and shortly thereafter won the general election. and now enters a quarter century career in congress. his motto that hard what hard work brings luck seem to come true. when very early on ford got himself assigned to the very influential appropriations committee in the house. he proved himself during his quarter century in congress loyal to his party. he proved himself a political partisan. one who was more loyal to the two republican presidency served under dwight eisenhower richard nixon than the two democrats. he served under harry truman and john f kennedy. i'd say too linda johnson suv and john f kennedy. excuse me, democrats to served under.
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policy wise he tended to strongly support defense and foreign aid programs aimed at combating communism and protecting us national security. he endorsed the war in vietnam though. he felt that johnson should have relied more heavily on air and naval support unless on ground troops. he was less supportive of social programs believing the encouraged people to rely on federal assistance rather than pull themselves up without government help. because of his loyalty to the republican party ford, sometimes had to take positions differently than he had previously and this especially became the case after became minority leader in 1965, which will say more about here in a minute. for instance ford had opposed lyndon johnson's great society great society programs believed in the encouraged people to live off of government assistance yet. he endorsed richard nixon's family assistance plan, even though that would increase the wealth the nor people on the welfare roles. that's another example.
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ford had adopted a very hard line toward communist china as a member of congress. but he endorsed nixon's decision to achieve a rapprochement with china. in fact, just how much ford's views could change and also how it kind of got them in trouble someone's constituents. in 1972 in february 1972 ford nixon became the first president to visit china since it had gone communist. and ford decided afterward. i want to go to china as well. i want to see what it's all about. one of the most wonderful collections at the ford library. is this congressional papers because you get a good idea of what his constituents and most people who weren't as constituents were thinking about what he was doing and what policies you should adopt or not adopt. and one of them one of the letters had to do with ford's decision to visit communist, china. some of the letters that were sent to forward were very praised worthy.
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this is a great idea, but there was at least one constituent from grand haven who was not very happy with ford doing this and he wrote ford and i'm quoting here. i do not want to wish you any bad luck. but i hope your aircraft falls into the middle of the pacific ocean. for stabbing the american people in the back. it was the same kind of fraternizing collaborating and double cross that helped the nazis overtake the netherlands in 1941. yeah, pretty strong of rather than happy individual there and it gives you a sense but this give you a sense of what ford's constituents we're thinking. yet forged loyalty to his party. which again? let me change his views at times. to not mean he was an ideologue. he was a pragmatist. he supported foreign aid and defense programs whether the president was a republican or a democrat.
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he endorsed elements of president truman's fair deal program such as it's called for expanding social security. on civil rights in the environment congressman ford proved himself more progressive than many of his colleagues, but at the same time not as progressive as others. he tended a favor for instance having the states read in the federal government protect african american rights and the environment. however he did vote for eliminating the poll tax to vote. had supported the 1964 civil rights act the 1965 voting rights act and the 1963 clean air act. during this quarter century in congress ford never sponsored a major piece of legislation. during that quarter century prove. it wasn't the best of speakers even he knew he was not the greatest speaker in the world. he was intelligent.
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but it was not an intelligence that led him to make quick decisions ford was someone who liked to hear all sides of an issue to think about what he heard to mull it over before making a decision. and one last thing about ford that i argue. he had trouble coming up with a vision. coming up with an explanation as to how these policy proposals fit into a broader idea of whether nation should go in fact some affords colleagues saw the same thing. one of the people who afford served with in congress was a wisconsin lawmaker named melvin laird. laird once said jerry doesn't catch on as rapidly as he should of the political significance of an event or issue. once he does once he understands it, there's no problem, but it does take him time. yet even though it wasn't the best of speakers. didn't sponsor major people legislation the fact that he was
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willing to listen to others to think about what they said what they were democrats are not made him very well liked in congress plus he was very good garious by nature. democrats came to like and respect him. in fact, he was asked by democrats in congress to join the committee that established the national that would help form the national aeronautics and space administration. he was asked by president johnson joined the warn commission to investigate the kennedy assassination. because he was willing to listen to all sides. he became well like the mong republicans. and this was especially important. because it ties in with his ambition. by forged third term as a congressman he had decided he wanted to become speaker of the house. and he put enormous and enormous amount of time and effort into achieving that goal. he ended up becoming involved with a group of younger members of congress. he became referred to as the
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young turks. these were younger individuals who included melvin laird. charles goodell that name might ring a bell by the way his son roger goodell as commissioner of chair commissioner of the nfl. and a man by the name of donald rumsfeld these younger lawmakers believed that the leadership and the house representatives was old. out of touch and too willing to accept the idea of the republicans in the house remaining the minority. what they wanted was younger leadership vibrant energetically leadership that would help the republicans achieve a majority in the house. and of course for ford to become speaker. and indeed with their support in 1965 ford becomes speaker of the house minority leader. excuse me. putting him only one step away. from that dream of becoming speaker. a dream he would not achieve. but before i get into that.
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what did all this hard work and this ambitiousness mean for forward and his family? by 1957 betty and jailed ford had four children three sons jack michael and steve and a daughter susan but because of his ambitiousness ford was gone. quite a bit. he was an absent husband and absent father. his workaholic nature meant he was rarely home. he would wake up early. swim laps in the pool of their of the family home and alexander, virginia. and then be at work by 8:00 am. he traveled a lot. some years. he might be gone as many as 280 days in that year. he tried to be home on sundays. and if he was home on saturdays, he would try to take his kids to the capitol building with him and to his office. where i should point out the kids engaged in some mischief.
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one of the stories i read about ford's children is that when they would go to the office with him? they would move things around like name plates and other stuff on the desks. and i when i interviewed steve ford, i asked him. did you guys actually do that? and the fact that he never gave me a direct answer suggest to me that it probably happened. but the point i'm getting at here is while he was home on sundays and while he would take his kids with him to the office on saturdays. he was rarely there. and it was hard on betty. she loved her husband. she supported his political career. but not having him around was difficult on her. and she started to look for an outlet. and she found it in alcohol. now i assume all of us here very well aware that alcoholism can run in families from one generation to the next. betty ford's father been an
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alcoholic and she began abuse alcohol. she all began to abuse painkillers that she was taking for a bad back. her husband had some idea of what was going on, but largely was oblivious to it. in 1972 though betty ford finally had some hope that year richard nixon had one had one for re-election and easily defeated the democratic nominee george mcgovern. it was a landslide victory for nixon. yet the democrats retain control of congress. and ford thought to himself my gosh if the democrats can put up a candidate as bad as mcgovern. yet still hold on. to congress certainly the house representatives. i don't see how ever become speaker. so he says to betty look here's what to do. i want to stay in office for two more terms. that'll bring me to the end of nick's at second and under the constitution last term in i'll
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retire. and she was thrilled. finally, i'm going to be able to spend time with my husband fine. i'll get my husband back. that was before a series of unprecedented events. brought forward into the white house i think many of the people here in this room remember in october of 1973 the vice president spiro agnewess forced to resign taking bribes. nixon asked his call ask individuals in congress. who should i nominate to replace agnew? and overwhelmingly the answer was if you want someone who will get confirmed easily nominate gerald ford. so nixon offers this nomination to forward. betty wasn't happy in fact, steve ford said that his mother hit the roof. when she found out ford try to try to to ease her concerns, don't worry. he said vice don't do anything.
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but but she was concerned. she supported him. supported his nomination supported supported his confirmation believed was the best thing for the country, but i think there's no better example of just how concerned and upset. she was than when nixon congratulated the fords. shook betty's hand congratulated her and her response to him was congratulations or condolences. yeah. now if there was someone who was happy about ford being nominated for the vice presidency was his daughter susan. she made a $5 bet with her mother. that he was gonna get the nomination. and sure enough when the nomination came down. she was very excited and she starts getting on the phone and calling people from the house letting them know that yeah indeed her father's the one who was nominated. and and forge says wait a minute here. i gotta be able to use the phone. so he tells native his would you please tell susan to get off the phone? and then he thought to himself
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well, you know father telling his teenage daughter to get up the phone that might not have enough punch to it. so he said to the aid no no tell her the vice president once her off the phone. and i imagine that that did the job. ford is now vice president here is naivety i ever take comes to the four. by this time the watergate scandal is tracking a lot of attention the country there are questions whether nixon's involved and nixon's denying any involvement. ford believes him even as the evidence becomes overwhelming now granted for to begin a distance himself from nixon a little bit, but he still believe that nixon was not involved that nixon was telling him and not have no part in this i'm not involved in this yet and for believed him. that was until the evidence. came out the smoking gun tape which demonstrated nixon had been involved into into conspiracy and obstructive justice. and it was painful for ford.
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he considered nixon a friend and he felt very about lied to velvet betrayed by nixon. nixon of course had the choice between resignation and impeachment chose resignation. and now ford finds himself. and a period of eight months. going from congressperson. device president and our president united states to give you an idea of just how fast this had happened. um okay. when president ford became vice president he had kept his phone number in the white pages of the alexandria phone book because he believed if people need to be able to get a hold of me then they got to be able to get my have my phone number. well now all of a sudden he's president united states. he is now president united states. his phone number is still listed. at his age told me god again enlisted phone number which he did but i think gives an idea of
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just how fast all of this happened. so here enters ford. a popular president approval rating around 75% the person to use ford's own words paraphrase forward the person who's going to end america's nightmare. and he gave the impression to the american people as far as i'm concerned that he was an average joe. who raised an average american family? he worked in a shirt sleeves. he cooked his own breakfast his favorite breakfast was an english muffin melon and orange juice and tea. his favorite meal at night was pot roast or steak. with red cabbage and a scoop of butter pecan ice cream for dessert he and betty were attractive couple with four attractive children two of whom. steven susan still lived at home. they were god-fearing. they love the sports. they love the outdoors. they were gregarious.
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ford seem like the all-american father of the all-american family the kind of person you want to have over maybe to grill some hamburgers and hot dogs with watch football game with if that image. of the all-american father of the all-american family didn't last. and it didn't last. because a month after we came president ford pardon, richard nixon number of explanations have been for this some from for themself. he believed nixon couldn't get a fair trial. he had heard that nixon was very sickly might not live long enough much longer believed that nixon had suffered enough. and ford said that he was tired of being asked questions from reporters about whether he would nixon pardon or pardon nixon when nixon go to trial and he wanted to get the country focused on what he considered more important issues. you want to get in the way. he thought he could do that was by pardoning. the former president yet doing
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so created an uproar. the anger was intense. some people charged and there was a conspiracy by which nixon resigned and gave for the presidency in return for a promise from ford to pardon him. the point is the anger was so intense that as one a later said. the pardon destroyed fort destroyed forts image and made it hard for me to talk about anything else. and there was a lot of anything else forward had to talk about. the us withdrawal from vietnam the migos crisis when the us merchant ship miguez was seized by cambodia and for brief time the american crew taking hostage. promoting day tante and arms control with the soviet union promoting the middle east peace process. and economic recession and energy crisis the new york city
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financial crisis all of these by the way have been dealt with by other presidential scholars i deal with them too, but they're all the two other issues that i deal with that. i felt have not been covered extensively by those who written on ford. in addition to list. i just gave you four it also had a deal with the environmental movement and then as i do more for the environment. and a growing interest among americans to give more attention to human rights in american foreign policy. in addressing these issues forward approach them from two directions. first of all, he believed that because he had not been elected in his own right? he could not seek new programs. and second of all he wanted to move the country down a road of the month of the modern conservatism that he believed in. for these reasons he was prepared to use the veto. he was the video at least 63 times. at least 20 more 23 more times than nixon did. in fact, he had more vetoes than agenda proposals. but he was a pragmatist.
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he was willing to compromise now in part this was because he was constrained. he had to deal with a democratic controlled congress one that became even more firmly controlled by democrats fall in the 1974 midterms, but he was not anathema to bipartisanship and compromise. he signed for instance a tax bill favored by democrats that call for greater tax cuts than ford himself favored. now the reason he did this is yes, there were tax cuts involved. but he also thought if he didn't sign the bill democrats would then try to see capacity bill that call for greater government spending something for didn't want. he signed energy legislation. that didn't do everything. he wanted. but he signed it because there were things in the bill. he liked. it promoted energy conservation. it's set up a strategic petroleum reserve and it gave for the ability if he's so sought to recommend a decontrolling oil prices. now there was a price to be paid for this willingness to compromise for this wellness to reach across the aisle at least
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work with democrats. his decision on issues like energy. on taxes and other decisions he made such as nominating nelson rockefeller who came from the liberal wing of the republican party upset conservatives the conservative wing of the republican party. it was a conservative wing that had been growing in power and influence since at least the 1960s. his desire to achieve day taught with the soviet union did not please conservatives and also displeased neoconservatives among the democrats. ford hurt himself by flip-flopping on the issues for instance we became president. he called for a tax surcharge then changes his mind and says i want to tax cut. and last but not least four ran to the same probably had run into when he was a member of congress. had trouble coming up with a vision. trouble explaining what his larger view was of where the country should go. at one point he talked about the
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new realism, but it was just the one time. otherwise all american saw were policy proposals. and i would suggest to you. this was a reason why ford lost in 1976 to jimmy carter this lack of a vision. but there are other reasons that have been and should be given. certainly the nixon pardon ford faced a challenge from ronald reagan for the presidential nomination for the republican nomination for president. ronald reagano came from the conservative conservative wing of the republican party. it was a race that battered ford politically and made it impossible for him to focus on the nomination of focus on the democratic nominee early on in city had to wait until secure the nomination before he could focus on on the democratic his democratic rival ford famously made a gaff during a second debate with carter. i'm sorry. i'm getting ahead here ford made
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a gaff and a second debate with carter when it declared that there was no soviet domination of eastern europe. and then being stubborn he refused to clarify what he meant by that only compounding his error. there was an economic downturn shortly before the election that hurt him. and last but not least there was betrayal of ford as a klutz. i think many of you have seen the video maybe remember seeing it on tv. in 1975 ford went to salzburg austria to meet with the president of egypt anwar sadat. it was raining outside. ford's walking down the stairs of air force one air force one and slips down the stairs and next thing, you know any slip any trip any fall or near fall in the ski slope became fodder. for the media and for popular culture best example of this will be chevy chase's portrayal of gerald ford and starting out live. where he depicts ford as a nice
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individual but someone who could not walk straight. and wasn't terribly bright. well, i would argue with you that all of these things. whether it be the economic downturn and ford's inability to find a way to solve it the betrayal of him as a clutz his lack of a vision the part of nixon all of these things can fit into what i believe is one large umbrella. image lyndon johnson once said i'm going to use the uncensored version of this just so you know. gerald ford is so dumb. he can't walk and fart at the same time. in other words ford was an intellectually vacuous klutz. and what i would suggest to you and this is what i argue in the book what what i think the nation came to see. during forbes tenure as president was not someone who was physically and intellectually vibrant not someone who had played football gone to yell law school swam and
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skied. instead what they saw was someone who was physically unsteady. and that physical unsteadiness became tied to an intellectual unsteadiness. that led forward to make bad led 4 to make bad decisions and make bad comments. hence the lack of a vision his refusal to clarify himself when he said there's no self-domination of poland the pardon of nixon his inability to find a way to solve the economic downturn his failure to recognize the reagan challenge early on all of these things tied him with this image. of a president who made who was not physically steady who was on intellectually steady and who made bad decisions? and that i would suggest to you is why he ultimately lost. ford now leaves the white house yet. as he once said old habits die hard. following jimmy carter's inauguration ford returned to
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california or when to move to california with his wife they had friends there for could play golf. they felt the weather be good for betty and and betty thought great. i'll have my husband back finally. yet being the loyal republican being the workaholic being the politician. he was ford continued to go out a lot. he was endorsing republican candidates when stumping for them and this was hard on betty. she was continuing to abuse alcohol continuing the addiction of painkillers. and finally in 1978, there's a family intervention gerald ford himself. led the intervention to help betty. yet it's to point out. that even though he now fully understood what betty was going through. old habits died hard ford still want to be involved in politics and believe that his wife would support him if he tried to get more involved. in 1980 considered running for the presidency in his own,
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right? um when that fell through we considered being ronald reagan's running mate that same year. although that idea fell through as well because ford wanted more power than reagan wanted to give him. ford having decided now. i'm going to step out of politics. became it while he was remained a loyalist the gop also increasingly republican critic. he felt that reagan spent too much money on defense over too short a period. he worried about the debt reagan was encouraging. he opposed george w. bush's decision to invade iraq. he worried about his party moving further and further to the political, right? he worried about the growing partisanship he saw on capitol hill. and he was became more liberal on a variety of social issues including abortion homosexual rights. and passes the equal rights amendment for women and i think it could be argued. that a ford was alive today.
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he besieved by many republicans given the environment today as a rhino. a republican and name only meanwhile forward being eight individual who was pragmate pragmatic and one which will cross party lines developed a friendship. with another ex-president a democrat jimmy carter the two of them criticized israel for standing in the way the middle east peace process. they joined forces and calling for ratification of the north american free trade agreement. they are good against impeaching president bill clinton in favor of centuring him. they argued in support of george w. bush continuing the banana assault weapons that was set to expire in 2004. although bush allowed to expire that year. at the same time ford is out still involved in politics. he's making money. in partners to find get together funds for the ford library museum. both facilities of which opened up in 1981 but it was also
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making money for himself and his family. he made large amounts of money from speaking engagements from his memoirs and from sitting on corporate boards. and some people accused him of being interested only a material gain. in fact his former, press secretary gerald to horst said that ford was ford incorporated. a guy who only wanted to make money for his own financial well-being. and that criticism stung. ford said wait a minute here. i'm not just sitting on corporate boards to make money. i'm working hard for these people. i'm putting a lot of effort into this. and ford could also point out they was very much involved in philanthropy. in 1977. he established the jerry ford invitational an annual golf tournament that by the early 1990s had raised over million dollars for charity. he helps save a theater in palm desert, california. he and betty raised money to build an elementary school in indian wells, california, and he was very supportive. of betty's efforts to create
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what became the betty ford center of course this couldn't last forever. age began to take its toll. and shortly after christmas in 2006 ford passed away. so it leaves a question. how should ford be remembered? there was a gallup poll taken a forge presidency shortly after he left the white house. and these people were asked what was president ford's greatest achievement. and people were given a number of options to choose from. and the one they chose most was no great achievement. he didn't do anything. least nothing big and i think this doesn't know how ford has been remembered. ford has been remembered. i was suggest as a caretaker president. a person who sat in this chair behind the desk and the oval office keeping it warm. until either he was elected in his own
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right or someone else became president of the united states in 1976. and caretaker president who's only major act was department nixon? i would suggest you. this is not a fair assessment. ford had to deal with a lot of issues a myriad of issues as president. but i would argue with you that if forge you remember for anything. it should be for his belief in bipartisanship. today this country is marked by partisanship. a partisanship that oftentimes is angry. marked by accusations harsh language and disdain for the opposition a partisanship where a willingness to compromise as seen as tantamount to surrender to the opposition. this is not the ford that the country that gerald would have wanted. in fact in his eulogy for ford a
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full of michigander and democrat representative john dingle. urged his colleagues in congress to honor ford by and i'm quoting carrying on his legacy of bipartisanship in the years to come. it's an untreaty that has been forgotten in washington. thank you. if you haven't answered some questions, we do have all a couple really good questions from the audience the first one and of course if you can repeat it, do you think congressman ford would do well in today's washington do i think congressman ford do well in today's washington? probably not. um, i mean, let's at the republican party. the number of moderates and ford always concerns of a moderate has declined people like susan collins who is still there are very upset with the direction of the parties taken others.
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like olympia snow have left i come from south carolina lindsey graham has been under attack in south carolina from the tea party on the grounds that he's too willing to engage in bipartisanship. so i think that he would be seen as a rhino at the very least. next question. who do you think influenced journal or ford the most? any who influenced joe are for the most i don't think there'd be any single person. but i would certainly if i'm talking about people i would definitely put his parents up there. his upbringing two individuals were examples of strength and perseverance their his father's belief in not relying on the government for federal assistance for assistance pulling yourself by own bootstraps. their belief in their spirituality all of those things, i think influenced forward. given ford's view of people that
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he sought to find the good in them. was his pardon of richard nixon inevitable. historians don't let the word inevitability. and i'm not sure. i don't want to say inevitable, but i think given the situation given who ford was given his belief that whether it be nixon's suffered enough or that the nation had to focus on what he considered more important issues that he had to get nixon behind him. and so in that respect the pardon was inevitable, but i just i don't like the word because we've talked about inevitability then that leaves on the possibility for for variables other variables getting involved, but i do think that this was something for certainly something a believed had to happen. why did ronald reagan challenge
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gerald ford in 1975 1976 and did ford detest him for that? why did reagan challenge ford at 76 and why did ended for to test him for that reagan felt that ford was taking positions that he believed were not in line with weather. republican party should be going a reagan came from the conservative wing in the party. he felt that ford was adopting a number of positions that were bad positions. maybe the best example of that and one that certainly helped reagan's campaign make a comeback. i mean at first to see him reagan might lose was the panama canal ford had decided that it was a good idea to continue negotiations that might lead to a treaty to turn the panama canal over to panama and reagan used that against ford saying the canal is ours we paid for it. it's ours. we shouldn't give it up and that helped revive reagan's campaign against ford. did ford hate reagan for this? ford was not one to hold grudges. but certainly he was not happy
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with the reagan challenge. because it did make it difficult for ford to focus on his democratic rival. took a lot of energy. but i should point out one of the thing and this is my mentioned as well in some respects for deserves to be faulted here and he admits this he didn't truly realize just how strong of a challenge reagan posed could pose to him i think how do you recognized it earlier? he might have had an easier time securing the nomination, but he didn't and so he was in it for a long hard fight against reagan. we've heard a lot about forts like a cs president. what legacy did he leave on capitol hill after nearly after a quarter century of service there? well, that's a good question. what legacy did jill ford leave on capitol hill after a quarter century of service there? i spoke with about a half dozen members of congress who had served with ford in one form or another.
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and the legacy is one that they wished. i think that he could have left if i can put it that way. to a tee all of them were very upset with the decline of bipartisanship. i think if ford could have left a legacy, that would have been it. of course. you can be a partisan of course can be loyal to your party. but you should be willing to listen to the other side take in what they have to say because they might have good ideas. and i and i know for certain based upon what i've read about ford and talking with his son. that ford believed this was becoming less and less the case in congress. of this will be the last question. are you talked about research for your book a little bit and your work at the ford library? and ann arbor? what was one of your perhaps favorite collections that you happen to have come upon or other collections you'd like to
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simply talk about that really emphasized your research. well again, the congressional papers were just wonderful because they gave a really good sense of what people were thinking at the time. it's one thing to read about what a congress person is thinking what a president is thinking. it's another to see what average americans were thinking about what the president was doing or not doing. and you also come across some real interesting stuff in those papers as well questions about ufos. for instance. i'll be one example, but some of the things that i read when it came to panama cuba china gun control all of these things were there in those papers and i just really found that so eye-opening to me and so helpful and understanding the america in which ford lived and also understanding more about the district in which it came from thank you very much. thank you.
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we'd like to again. thank dr. coffman for being with us tonight. he's even so wonderful of person that he will be reprising this lecture tomorrow in ann arbor and we thank him for that as well. please enjoy these the snacks and after glow that we have prepared for you out in the lobby and thank you very much once again for being part of this this lecture and also thank you dr. kaufman for providing us some really wonderful insights not so much on president for but on congressman ford, and i think that that really is a eye opener on many respects. so thank you very much for that. thank you very much. have a nice evening.
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i love you. c-span is your unfiltered view of government or funded by these television companies and more including wow. the world has changed today a fast reliable internet connection is something no one can live without. so wow is there for our customers with speed reliability value and choice now more than ever it all starts with great internet. wow. wow, support c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. a century ago on may 31st 1921 racial tensions in tulsa, oklahoma led to an armed mob of white men marching on the city's predominantly african-american greenwood district. the arrest of a young black man
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for his interactions with a white woman in a downtown office building triggered the unrest over the next day the neighborhood known as black wall street would be the scene of shootings. looting in arson while official totals put the number killed at 36 historians now believe the toll was as high as 300 35 blocks of the city were left in ruins. on thursday beginning at 8pm eastern on american history tv. we explore the consequences of that day's events. susan ford bales is the daughter of president gerald ford and betty ford. she reflects on her family's time in the white house with former abc news white house correspondent and compton. they focus on first lady betty ford and her impact on american society. the white house historical association hosted this event and provided the video. doesn't it always seen that the most greatest chaos chaotic time in our


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