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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Presidential Losers #44: Gerald Ford


See Footnote
The election of 1876 centered on the biggest presidential scandal up to that time - the engineered election of Rutherford "Rutherfraud" B Hayes.  For the Bicentennial, we out-did ourselves.  

As he was proud of saying about himself, Nixon was no quitter.  This is what he said the day he quit.  Vice-president Spiro Agnew, having earlier resigned in disgrace, Nixon selected Gerald Ford as the new VP.  He'd been second banana less than ten months before Nixon's resignation and his ascension to the top spot.  

In his speech accepting the presidency, Ford said, "Let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and hate."  Less than a month later, in a touching display of brotherly love and golden-rulism, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes "he may have committed against the United States."  

Lyndon Johnson once opined that Ford was too dumb to fart and chew gum at the same time, but this underestimated a canny economic mind.  Battling a sagging economy and rising prices, in a nationally-televised speech Ford introduced the "WIN" button, urging Americans to wear the red-and-white button standing for "Whip Inflation Now."  

It is unclear how many Americans actually wore the button, but no economist has ever been able to calculate the effect wearing these buttons had on the nation's economy.  

Against Ford was a relative unknown from Georgia, Jimmy Carter; but following years of political scandal that seemed to touch virtually every politician in DC, the last thing Americans wanted was a known.  Given this, it's surprising Carter didn't have a bigger victory, winning by the popular vote by a margin of only 2 percent, but a win is a win is a button.

Result

Jimmy Carter: 297
Gerald Ford: 240

Footnote: One of the great non-stories of Ford's presidency was the supposed inability of political cartoonists to caricature him.  It was really no big deal, however; as Atlanta Journal cartoonist Clifford "Baldy" Baldowski pointed out, drawing Gerald Ford was basically the same as the Frankenstein monster without those little bolts coming out of his ears.

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