Are You in the Right Place at the Right Time?
Being a news junkie, I watched the TV coverage of Gerald Ford’s final trip to Washington, D.C.—and thence to Michigan for burial—frequently switching channels and listening to all of the talking heads—politicians, pundits and presidential historians.
The centerpiece of Ford’s accidental presidency was granting “a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”
The action roiled the country and very likely cost Ford his reelection.
I remember being absolutely certain at the time that this was the right thing to do—that a trial and possible jailing of Richard Nixon would keep the Watergate mess alive for years and diminish the presidency even more.
The TV commentators covering the funeral of the 38th president were unanimously of the same opinion—that the stolid Gerald Ford was the right person in the right job at the right time.
As President George W. Bush said in his eulogy at the Washington National Cathedral, “When he was elevated to the presidency, it was because America needed him, not because he needed the office.”
It made me think about all of the people that I’ve known that were in the wrong jobs.
“The Confidential Clerk”
My parents fought over money every night of my life—screaming angry imbroglios that sometimes ended in blows—until they mercifully divorced in my fourteenth year. Both of them were badgering me to attend debutante parties and meet rich girls in the hopes that I would marry one, because they didn’t think I was smart enough to make a living on my own.
In 1954, I was 19 and attending Kenyon College. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life beyond getting through school, serving two years in the Army (I had a college deferment) and getting a job that paid me money. This was the era of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.” Your career path was graduation from college and then spending your life working for IBM or Procter & Gamble or J. Walter Thompson until retirement at 65 with a pension.