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A Decent Man
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As a member of the generation that grew up with television and the world that it laid at our feet, there are a few defining images that will be with me forever. Vague pictures of JFK’s funeral; fuzzy remembrances of Viet Nam (and not understanding how it was possible that we – as the North – had won our own civil war, but we were now supporting South Viet Nam); the still photos from Kent State. The July, 1969 investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales was a lavish spectacle that foretold little of the difficulties that would haunt his future. The entire summer of 1973 was filled with the Watergate hearings (between bouts of sitting in the sun, absorbing skin cancer through a layer of baby oil). My fascination with politics and the people who live in the swamp that is the national stage stems from those broadcasts. Images from Nixon’s resignation and Gerald Ford’s subsequent unelected ascension to the presidency are burned into my mind.

Ford seemed an unlikely choice for the office, particularly in comparison to the imperial presidency of paranoia Nixon created. Ford was the “anybody”, the decent, ordinary person, who could become president. His quick pardon of Nixon cost him the chance to be elected to the office he grew to love, but ultimately he made the right choice in an attempt to heal a wounded nation. We can only hope that whoever is elected president in 2008 will have those same instincts.

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