By now, you've had a cup of coffee and heard the news that the Accidental President, Gerald Ford, died last night.
I'm not going to eulogize him. You can go watch the Today Show or any number of other media outlets for that crap. I will say one thing about the man: I believe he was a decent, honest soul.
And that intrigued me. Thrust into the limelight with no foreshadowing, he dealt with his abbreviated term as best as he could. He made decisions that one can look at and follow his principle and logic behind, and was willing to pay a price for them (and he did).
There aren't many men about whom you can say that, but of course, Ford never had to run to be President, as he was appointed and then succeeded his way to the Oval Office. You might say he fell upstairs...
Naturally, many of his decisions stuck in the craw of liberals nationwide, most notably his decisions to pardon Richard Nixon and to tell New York City to drop dead in the midst of its financial nightmare.
He could have taken the easy way out on both decisions: asked the Senate for political cover on pardoning Nixon, or delay and deflect the attention from NYC's crisis until he could get a better handle on it. But he didn't.
Other than Jimmy Carter, it's hard to think of a President in the last fifty years who was more guided by his inner voice and own conscience than Gerald Ford. Maybe Bill Clinton approaches him, but even there, you see a man who spun desperately to retain as much personal power as possible in the course of the onslaught of Republicans hatchet jobs on his two terms in office.
So the question has to be asked: can a man like Ford or Carter ever run and win the Presidency, or are they too nice, too good-hearted, and not...flexible...enough (read that as "corruptible") to run a national campaign?
This is important, because I think the times we live in, twelve years of national scandal emanating from the highest office in the land, and nearly thirty years of controversial, politically motivated, corporate-backed, focus-grouped decision making, has created a circumstance that cries out for one who is his "own man". The country needs to get its feet back under itself.
I'm not sure. Certainly the prevailing national mood after Nixon's resignation was deep disillusionment with politics and politicians, and our current pResident has taken great pains to mask this national mood, stopping its progression from malaise to depression (with a small "d," but soon to be a big "D" in my opinion), but there's a sense in this nation that the disilluionment remains just below the surface. The last election proved that people are angry, that people want change, and that people want accountability. Woe betide the Democrats should they screw with that!
The rah-rah ralliers of the right wing war wankers are all that stand between this country and outright rebellion of a sort, and that facade cracks a little more each day. To assume the mantle of patriotism in order to remain part of the family does not a patriot make, particularly when patriotism is indeed to stand foursquare against your government and for the law of the land.
Until we as a people can come out of hiding as our "own men (and women)," I think we will not see a decent man (or woman) be elected President. But once we as a people get the gumption to insist on the best, and not buy the packaged wholesale fraudulence of the Republican party's candidates and the complicit spin machinery (and the Democrats, albeit to a far lesser degree), we will never truly be free again.
It may take each of us to stand up and be counted to have a government that we deserve. That is true patriotism, to own a stake in the country that you live in, and not ignore what is going on around you.
So could a man like Barack Obama, or Michael Bloomberg (to give the devils their due, altho Bloomberg was until 2001 a Democrat himself) run and win the Presidency? Time and tides and fortune will tell.