R.I.P. Betty Ford

Former First Lady Betty Ford has died at age 93. This is a really nice op-ed by the Times, that shows her multiple interests, the hardships she overcame, her independence and flashes of her personality. R.I.P.

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    Betty Ford was a breath of fresh air. (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by hairspray on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 09:50:17 AM EST
    She was honest, courageous and outspoken.  She was a Republican woman of the "old days."  I wish more GOP women were like her, then their party wouldn't be the party of the crazies. Today's fundamental testosterone dominated GOP hierarchy have shunted all of the moderates aside, including wonderful people like Betty.

    I also think the fact that she was (none / 0) (#8)
    by shoephone on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 03:13:43 PM EST
    a Martha Graham dancer says volumes about her sensibilities.

    I will always remember the line (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 10:09:21 AM EST
    from the Yaya Sisterhood, "They'll explain it all to you when you get to the Betty".

    She was fairly unique (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 11:15:46 AM EST
    for her time within the GOP political context as being both outspoken and liberal on controversial social issues.  Previous GOP First Ladies and the ones that came later -- Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, Mrs Truman, Babs Bush Sr and Jr, Nancy Reagan -- either were silent, absent, or confined themselves to non-controversial areas.

    But Betty Ford found a way to speak out about things like abortion, equal pay for equal work, and the ERA.  Unthinkable in today's GOP (the one that took over when Reagan was elected and which has only gone even further right) for a Repub FL to come out in favor of choice for women or for something as "radical" as the ERA.

    I didn't care much for her husband as president, at least after the Pardon, but Betty's positive presence and refreshing candor for a FL almost created enough good will for Jerry, even among liberal Dems, that he was at least knocking on the door of a full term, despite the terrible PR over the Nixon thing.

    I applaud her for speaking out even as her views were anathema to many in her party.   No Republican Stepford wife she.    

    Scratch the "Mrs Truman" (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 11:18:27 AM EST
    part -- don't know how that got in there.  Got carried away perhaps listing all the First Ladies from yesteryear.  Or it was the silent/absent aspect that made me include her name.

    I didn't agree w/the Pardon (none / 0) (#10)
    by brodie on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 05:22:05 PM EST
    at the time and I've never changed that position.  It smacked of a shady inside deal between Nixon and Ford and it immediately threw into doubt what was up to then (just a few weeks of course) a presidency seen as a breath of fresh air after Tricky, creating of itself its own sort of "national distraction".  It also of course removed from the public their ability to get out of Nixon a fuller and more honest accounting of his series of crimes and misdeeds known as Watergate, and to get his statements under oath and with penalty of perjury.  

    It needn't have ended up with actual prison time served, but we should have had that process play out much more than it did, which wasn't very much at all (a number of Nervous Nellie and Corporatist Dem types helped arrange for that, including the head of our DNC Bob Strauss).  And soon enough, of course, Nixon was out on his Rehabilitation Tour, with the Frost interview and his semi-modified limited hangout of frankness in return for a nice payday of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    As for Caroline and Ted, the former was on the JFK Library Fdn Board which decided to give out a Profiles in Courage Award to Jerry Ford back a decade or so ago.  What she might have said subsequently with Ted might have been to buttress that situation rather than argue for it in the first place.  But as to Ted, he was always a bit of a too-forgiving softy wrt his political enemies/fierce opponents.  That's roughly a quote from Jackie, who cringed when Ted in the late '70s took it upon himself to invite ex-pres Nixon to the opening of the JFK Library.  She apparently wasn't alone in the family in holding those views about TK.

    Finally, as for Ford agreeing to become Nixon's VP, we'll actually never know all the circumstances of why it was offered and why he accepted, and what else might have been involved in the transaction.

    But as for Ford as president in retrospect, apart from the Pardon, it wasn't too bad -- certainly it's arguable from a Dem pov that it might have been better for him to have finished out the 70s in the WH and spared us both Carter and possibly the Reagan presidencies.

    (Trivia Q:  Which famous top-tier liberal lifelong Dem pol admitted he voted for Jerry Ford in 1976?)


    Rest In Peace Mrs. Ford (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 12:16:25 PM EST
    This covers it pretty well.

    Few first ladies have been as popular as Betty Ford, and it was her frankness and lack of pretense that made her so. She spoke often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorsed legalized abortion, discussed premarital sex and revealed that she intended to share a bed with her husband in the White House.

    Also, her openness regarding her mastectomy helped women then and now.

    In the months that followed, tens of thousands of American women, inspired by Mrs. Ford's forthrightness and courage in facing her illness, crowded into doctors' offices and clinics for breast-cancer examinations.  

    Mrs. Ford's openness about (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 02:26:37 PM EST
    her mastectomy is, in my view, foremost among her contributions as First Lady.  With the passage of time and progression of attitudes, her importance to present day awareness of breast cancer and forthrightness in seeking treatment would be easy to get lost.

    Mrs. Ford was also ahead of her times in giving voice in opposition to discrimination against gay women and men and expressing support for gay women and men to serve openly in the military.

    She kept a sense of humor as noted in response to a reporter's inquiry of what she thought of Chevy Chase (who made his career out of parodying her husband's pratfalls) when she said that she thought he was a very funny suburb.