We are basking in the warm Minnesota sun -- the New Year's eve snow still clumped on tree limbs but dripping steadily from the eaves, and it won't be long until we're back to a soggy brown winterscape. We usually get back to "normal" on January 2, resuming our humdrum lives with inflated good intentions that will melt away as quickly as this snow.
But thanks to Gerald Ford, this year is different. He didn't accomplish much as our so-called "only" unelected president, other than offer a sort of antidote to the demented paranoia of Richard Nixon's final days -- a congenial bumbler, with malice toward none. Transcripts of Nixon's meetings with advisors are filled with expletives and slurs, both personal and racial, but it's hard to imagine Gerald Ford working up to anything much stronger than a "gosh darn."
He showed up, he didn't take on very much, he pardoned Nixon, he ran for re-election and he lost. He faded into one of the most obscure post-presidencies in memory. But thanks to him, the holiday has been extended by one more day.
Americans owe a big thanks to Betty Ford, however, not only for being open about her breast cancer when such a thing was unheard of, but for being equally open about her addiction to pain killers and alcohol, leading to her opening the fabled Betty Ford rehab center.
Come to think of it, we have her to thank for this extra holiday, as she certainly had more to do with the planning than the mister. And BTW, who does plan these things? It's hard enough to pull a family together for a memorial service, so who puts all these arrangements together? Why, it's a whole slew of people, from the president on down. Glad you asked.
So thanks, everyone. Thanks Gerry for being a decent sort of guy, (though I wish you'd done more than whisper your support of equal rights for gays and your opposition to the war in Iraq) and thanks Betty for your honesty in matters of health and human frailty, and thanks chief of protocal for this extra day without the mail, a prolonging of limbo before the new year begins in earnest.