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Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s Hardcover – April 22, 2005
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"One of the best presidential biographies I have read. It explains the rise of the Republican Party as a ruling majority today. It is fast paced and extremely well written. It is a worthy assessment of Mr. Ford's presidency."―(Lanett, AL) Valley Times-News
"The reader come away from reading this fine and impeccably researched book with a new appreciation for Gerald Ford as a sophisticated thinker and a person with a consistent vision for the nation's domestic and international policy. . . . Succeeds admirably as a political biography."―Business History Review
"In this impressive book, he argues that Ford's tenure as president deserves more consideration and even praise than it has often received. After reading it, one is hard pressed to disagree with the author's conclusion."―H-Net Reviews
"A welcome study of an unusual American president."―Journal of American History
"This ambitious work calls for a reexamination of the Ford presidency in light of the formidable challenges he faced upon taking office. A welcome and important addition to the literature on the Ford presidency."―Library Journal
"Adds a great deal to our understanding of Ford's priorities and guiding philosophy for the nation's domestic and international policies. Mieczkowski shows within a broad historical context how Ford dealt with the challenges the country faced during the mid-1970s."―Michigan Historical Review
"By a masterful analysis, Mieczkowski shows how Ford restored credibility to government and promoted amicable relations with Congres."―Richard Lowitt, University of Oklahoma
About the Author
Yanek Mieczkowski, professor of history at Dowling College, is the author of The Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections and Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige.
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Second part covers the economic crisis at the time. Inflation was high, unemployment was high, and the economy was in a severe recession. The author presents Ford's economic plan, the effects and how it improved the nation.
Third part involves the energy crisis and the fourth his bid for re-election. Everything is covered and explained in an easy to read format. It gives you a greater appreciation for Ford as a man and a politician. It is unfortunate that we do not have more of this type of politician in office today.
Ford never had any interest in seeking the Presidency. He was happy to stay in Congress, dreaming of being Speaker of the House. As Mieczkowski mentions, it takes a pretty big ego and a lot of ruthlessness to decide to run for President, make through the primaries and come out on top in November. As an "accidental" President who was never elected, Ford has perhaps the unique distinction of having smallest ego of any sitting President, an important bending of the stick after years of Nixon and Johnson.
Ironically despite being one of the most open Presidents when it came to press, he was mercilessly ridiculed by them, leading to his klutzy reputation. After Watergate and the 60's rebellion, no one was willing to trust anyone in authority and Ford had the bad luck to come into office when he did. Many who did attack him (even Chevy Chase as the book recounts) would latter regret it.
Mieczkowski also does a good job of reminding readers was a state of crisis America was in the mid- 1970's. Rampart inflation, out of control energy prices and a generalized lack of confidence in the future and our leaders were all problems Ford inherited and tried his best to confront. A combative Democratic controlled Congress, with a high percentage of "new Democrat" freshmen made sure that Ford spent more time in veto wars with the House and Senate instead signing his name to bills, so in terms of policy he accomplished little, but he did succeed in bringing back some sense of trust to the White House. In the end Ford was a man who never labored to sit in the White House, but when called upon to try to rebuild the broken trust America had in the Executive branch after the lies of Johnson and Nixon, Mieczkowski shows how Ford stepped into one of the more difficult positions any President has ever faced and left an important mark. His pardon of Nixon largely killed his chances to be re-elected, but Mieczkowski makes a well-argued defense of Ford's decision *whether you agree with it or not) and that Ford did it out of a need to move America onto issues beyond Watergate; not becuase of any "secret deal" with Nixon as some had rumoured. Even then, during his re-election campaign, he managed to cut Carter's intial dominating lead to mere points making the 76 election one of the closest in the 20th century. His openness, moderation and dialogue when dealing with opponents and scrupulous honesty are characteristics that I'm sure many of would like to see make a comeback in Washington.
I must confess that i especially appreciated Mr. Mieczkowski dug out that Ford had fired one of his legislative aids Mr. Loen over his treatment of me after I had voted against Ford's position on natural gas. That took a lot of digging--and showed Jerry Ford's basic fairness and dignity. I hope Mr. Mieczkowski reads this and gets in touch with me by e mail--mine is firstname.lastname@example.org.