Saturday evening’s memorial was a modest, dignified tribute to a modest, dignified man. Dick Cheney, who worked for Ford, had this to say:
He was not just a cheerful and pleasant man -- although these virtues are rare enough at the commanding heights. He was not just a nice guy, the next-door neighbor whose luck landed him in the White House. It was this man, Gerald R. Ford, who led our republic safely through a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe. We will never know what further unravelings, what greater malevolence might have come in that time of furies turned loose and hearts turned cold. But we do know this: America was spared the worst. And this was the doing of an American President. For all the grief that never came, for all the wounds that were never inflicted, the people of the United States will forever stand in debt to the good man and faithful servant we mourn tonight.
Speaker Hastert had some nice things to say as well, but his physical appearance in a grotesquely fitting suit was a distraction. Even more distracting were his glasses, which needed to be pushed back up his nose at one minute intervals. Somehow this action became incorporated into our drinking game and was the source of incipient inebriation. (The game: Take a drink when Michigan football is mentioned, raise an eyebrow but take no drink when the Betty Ford Center is mentioned, finish your drink for the words "long national nightmare.")
Senator Ted Stevens was an embarrassment. When he brought up Ford’s support for the Alaska maritime industry, he revealed his understanding of government as an exercise in petty parochialism. This was a stark contrast to the selflessness of President Ford being honored.