Ford Vs. Carter, 1976

720 1976-10-20 Missourian Ford-Carter AdThe hall closet was a catchall for seldom-worn coats, bottles of booze given Dad by vendors at Christmas (some have unbroken seals dating back to 1965) and general domestic detritus. On the top shelf was a stack of yellowing newspapers. Almost every time I came home, Mother would say, “Why don’t you go through those papers and either take them with you or throw them out.”

Every time, I’d answer, “Next time.”

A treasure trove of history

“Next time” finally came the other day. I discovered they were newspapers that had headlines of most of the major stories between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s. Space launches, Martin Luther King assassination and the riots in its aftermath, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. Some were from The Southeast Missourian and The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, but there were also covers from papers all over the country.

It dawned on me that in the days before the Internet, newspapers would subscribe to a couple dozen publications, most of which never got read. I must have gone through the stacks and grabbed those significant headlines. Or, maybe I snatched them up from Metro News on Broadway.

I liked Carter, but voted for Ford

Let me go on record as saying that I believe that Jimmy Carter was an honorable man who got dealt a bad deck of cards during his term. I would have voted for him except for two things:

  1. I admired the way Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, sparing the country months of turmoil, even though he had to have known that he was committing political suicide. He took one for the country.
  2. I covered Gerald Ford when he came to South Florida on an uncharacteristically cold, rainy day. He rode in an open car waving at crowds and stopping to shake hands from time to time the whole length of Palm Beach County. I leapfrogged from spot to spot to catch him at several vantage points, and thought to myself (while wet and shivering), “This guy REALLY wants this job.”

A gentle attack ad

Jimmy Carter’s announcement that he has cancer made this Oct. 20, 1976, ad particularly memorable for me.

Carter made the mistake of being honest in a Playboy interview: Christ said, “I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.” I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who’s loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.

The religious right, predictably, went nutso and condemned one of the most honorable and Christian presidents we’ve had for simply telling the truth.

I have to grudgingly respect this ad and its quiet message, though. It is factual, understated and effective.

Still, I’m sure Playboy circulation skyrocketed for that issue: I mean, you had to run right out to by a copy “to read the interview,” right?

2 Replies to “Ford Vs. Carter, 1976”

  1. If only we could have something on the order of factual, understated and effective… from both sides of the aisle. Politics has been going ballistic and hysterical from both parties for decades now. Yes, it’s more crazy and more full of moral hyperbole, these days, but I don’t see either side shrinking from bombast anytime soon. And I’m not talking about the Trump Chump Show. (although, it appears, he refined it to a high “art”)
    Are there more reasoned speakers? Sure, Bernie seems at least thoughtful (regardless of whether you agree with his stands) and Doctor Ben speaks intelligently

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