"Ford, Ford, he's our man! Carter belongs in the garbage can!"
I remember reciting that little ditty over and over back in grade school in the run-up to the 1976 general election. I would have to say that Pres. Ford is the first US president of whom I have clear recollection. I was five when Nixon resigned, and it was second grade for me when Ford ran a doomed campaign against Carter. How could a candidate overcome such a maelstrom of negativity in less than two years and defeat the opposition party? Even for an upstanding, dignified, class act like Pres. Ford, it was too tall an order.
Now, at age 93, the "accidental president" as he's called, with no malice, has passed. In retrospect, I can only wonder what the current political landscape of the US would be had Ford beaten Carter in 1976. Would Reagan have had such an overwhelming pair of landslide victories? Would Bob Dole have been our 39th president? (He tried to be #42.) Would the hostage crisis in Tehran have happened? Ford could've conceivably been the longest-serving president since FDR, having not been elected and serving less than two years, it's conceivable he could've been elected two times, serving around ten years. Alas, the American public opted for "change" with Carter, and they got, perhaps, one of the worst presidents in the last 100 years. Hindsight being what it is, I know we all could do without Carter using his ex-President mantle as a loudspeaker for his irresponsible worldview.
Rest in peace, Pres. Ford. The country was better with you at the helm, and you'll be missed.