This is Gerald Ford's presidential memoir and autobiography. President Ford is the least appreciated of all our modern presidents -- this book demonstrates that he really was a decent man, placed by no choice of his own into exceedingly challenging circumstances. His re-election campaign, in 1976, had zero chance of succeeding because he was a Republican running in the first post-Watergate election.
Ford didn't do anything hugely memorable during his presidency -- which is why the title is "A Time To Heal", because he viewed his presidency as the period of post-Watergate and post-Vietnam healing. The two seminal events of his presidency revolve around those two issues -- pardoning Nixon and the fall of Saigon. They both ended dark moments in American history -- our first presidential resignation and our first military loss -- and Ford got the country through both.
History should treat Ford better than the dismissal our current generation offers him. This book will someday be the centerpiece of a new understanding of his importance in getting through a period of crisis in American history -- and recognizing his role in doing so at the time of his actions, including a recognition at the time that he would not be respected until some future generation.
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy|
Fight economic crises by projecting a steady hand.
Whip Inflation Now: voluntary participation in WIN campaign.
Moratorium on federal spending, to fight recession.
Long-term recovery at the cost of short-term suffering.
Federal "vision" means big spending.
Ford to New York City: Drop Dead.
Balance government & individual; cut government growth to 5%.
Endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment.
Would choose woman V.P. if he could do it over.
More mandatory sentencing; more focus on victims.
Mandatory sentencing for federal drug offenders.
Energy & Oil|
Higher taxes on oil to reduce imports.
No gas tax increase to solve energy crisis.
Vetoed coal-mining reductions: jobs trump environment.
Quiet diplomacy best for issues like Soviet Jewish emigres.
Note human rights when sending US troops to South Korea.
Disagreed on linking Soviet MFN with Jewish emigration.
Eastern Europeans don't concede Soviet domination.
Soviets dominate economy in Poland but not Polish spirit.
Proponent of free trade, even with Japanese export pressure.
Vetoed US-flagged oil tanker rules as too protectionist.
Suspended then reinstated grain sales to Soviets.
Congress is too fragmented & too involved in foreign policy.
More local initiative; even if not "visionary".
Untangle the petty tyranny of massive government regulation.
Ban Saturday Night Specials, but no regulations nor licenses.
Warren Commission: no conspiracy on JFK killing.
Real spending on defense decreased during Vietnam.
Two years alternative service for Vietnam draft dodgers.
Negotiated SALT-II missile limits with USSR.
1976 themes: limited government; strong defense.
Dems prefer to fight unemployment; GOP fight inflation.
Remove farm acreage limitations, to keep inflation down.
Principles & Values|
Economic conservative; social moderate; foreign liberal.
Chosen by Nixon as safe choice for V.P.
Nixon brought his troubles upon himself.
Resigned on grounds that his Congressional base disappeared.
Rules for Congress: communication, conciliation, compromise.
Pardoning Nixon let America's healing begin.
Nixon's opponents wanted revenge; Ford sought healing.
Lusted in his heart & feels forgiven by God.
Entitlements make federal role into redistribution of income.
Absurd to risk federal money in stock market.
Portion of Social Security funds could be invested.
Raised taxes to fight inflation.
Permanent tax cuts accompanies by spending cuts.
War & Peace|
Israel negotiations require flexible toughness, but not USSR.
Offered "earned amnesty" to Vietnam draft dodgers.
Took hard line against Vietnam draft dodgers.
Supported arms to Cyprus Turks to promote peace with Greeks.
Quid pro quo: arms to Israel for peace process flexibility.
Supported Vietnam War, to contain Communist aggression.
Vietnam War could have been won in the 1960s.
Vietnam evacuation postponed to avoid damage to Vietnamese.
Welfare & Poverty|
Replaced categorical housing grants with block grants.