For a long time, I always considered Gerald Ford to be the least interesting among twentieth century presidents. Sure, one could argue that Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge don’t bring a lot to the table (and didn’t when they were in office, either). Harding, at least, provides a perfect study in corruption and the exact wrong way to implement the spoils system. Silent Cal, on the other hand, brought us funny exchanges such as this one:

Woman at White House dinner party: Mr. President, I have a bet with my husband that I can get you to say more than two words.

Coolidge: You lose.

But Gerald Ford seems unremarkable. How does he come off? As a career politician, but a congressman, and one with no aspirations for the White House. He appears to be a thoroughly decent guy, albeit one with a predilection for falling down stairs. He might have been the last of a certain breed – the practical, pragmatic, Rockefeller Republican. A little isolationist, but not polarizing. Ironically, his most polarizing act – the pardon of Nixon – seems to me to be his least political. Of course, it can be argued that it was nothing but political, but I truly think that Ford wanted to spare the nation the embarrassment of having a former president involved in a criminal trial. And he made the right call, at least in my opinion.

In short, Gerald Ford seems human. And maybe, in hindsight, that is what made him interesting. His presidency was not extraordinary … and that’s exactly what it needed to be. He wasn’t a sweeping reformist, he had no grand plans for the country. He restored dignity to the White House and let the nation catch its breath after the tumultuous Nixon years.

And that’s how he’ll be remembered, and there is no shame in that.


Courtesy of Bruce Reed in Slate:

In fact, the best news of the 2006 elections is the opportunity it gives Democrats to earn the lasting support of the independents and disgruntled Republicans whose votes just dropped in our laps. Tuesday was the death knell for Rovism—the quaint and now fully discredited theory that majorities are built not by expanding support with ideas that work but by mobilizing extreme minorities with ideas that aren’t meant to be enacted and wouldn’t work if they did.

Bravo. Republicans can attempt to argue that their successes over the past twelve years have been unifying and not dividing. They can say that until they’re blue in the face.

They will be wrong.

For the first time since I was twelve years old, an election outcome wasn’t affected by culturally divisive issues. Interest groups were held at bay and the voters, for once, seemed to be able to focus on the ‘big tent’ issues of the war in Iraq and corruption among elected officials. Both of those issues affect us all.

It’s nice to see a mandate for change.

Also, I’m not entirely sure what to think of us, because several capable elected officials lost their jobs last night, but the Dallas County Democratic Party put up 47 candidates for county-wide office yesterday. All 47 of them won. Chris Bell won Dallas County by 4+ points.

I think it’s safe to say that if Dallas County has been trending blue for the last two election cycles then this was the cycle where blue moved firmly into power.

So I skipped work this morning and drove an hour to Sherman in order to do my civic duty and buy gas for $1.96/gallon. And to vote. I also drove to Sherman to vote.

Several comments:

1. Electronic voting is like playing a boring video game that only has one level that lasts 5 minutes.

2. I didn’t vote a straight party ticket because that would have shortened the video game by 4 minutes and 15 Fun Units.

3. As long as the system works, electronic voting is not complicated. Senior citizens, while old and dangerous behind the wheel, should still be able to figure it out.

4. It’s always embarassing when your old Stats professor is manning the polling place. Primarily because whenever she says hi to you, the other lady working the table will ask your Stats professor if you were a good student. Your Stats professor will then clearly hesitate before saying yes.

5. The Gentleman’s C+, apparently, is dead.

6. The Boys and Girls Club of Sherman smells of basketballs and urine.

See you next time.