Biden’s Conversational Tone In National Address Reaches Out To Americans

Former President Gerald Ford came to mind Wednesday night as I watched President Joe Biden address a joint session of Congress. Following the tumultuous years of Watergate, and the continual stonewalling by President Richard Nixon, there was a sense in the nation that Ford was precisely the type of grounded adult who was best suited for the needs of the time.

After the self-created, and never-ceasing chaos of Donald Trump, there was also a need for change. The nation simply demanded reasoned and mature leadership be returned to the Oval Office. In a national address to a joint session of Congress Biden provided more evidence that he is delivering on his campaign promise to bring the nation back to a place where the shouting and bombast are replaced with listening and working.

There is no doubt that Biden has a full agenda ahead of him as he made clear in the televised speech. The $6.1 trillion worth of programming and investments that he is promoting is a most daunting task. But when the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Family Plan are examined two things clearly emerge. First, they are, as polling demonstrates, what the nation supports. Secondly, the issues outlined in the plans reflect the needs that have too long existed but never found a resolution.

The nation knows that power grids are failing too often, bridges are crumbling, schools need updating, and the lives of ordinary Americans need to be lifted up and made better. From tackling pre-school kindergarten to get our youth better prepared to learn, provide an infusion of cash for Pell Grants which would allow two free years of technical school, bolster Black colleges, and provide a national paid family and medical leave program there is an energetic agenda waiting for action.

As Biden reminded voters, time and again during the campaign, the role of governing is about getting things done for the people.

None of these programs are wild-eyed or out of step in this nation, but rather building upon the foundations that have already been established. As with medical leave or repairing bridges the topics are not new, but only need a determined Congress to act on them.

Troubling for Republicans is the fact much of what has been proposed, be it the programs or the means to pay for them, has strong support from the nation. Placing a higher taxing requirement for the wealthy in the nation so to support society’s needs is not out of the mainstream. In fact, that sentiment is smack dab in the middle of the mindset of the voters.

Biden has a much better chance to prevail with large portions of his plans than his detractors realize due to the fact he finds himself in the Oval Office following his predecessor’s most bizarre term. A bombastic and ego-driven character has been replaced with a president who plans to govern. The citizenry is watching and wanting the trains to operate on time, for the congress to do more than just shout to their side of the aisle.

Biden’s personality and good reputation are why I thought of Ford while watching the address. Ford had a measured and folksy style when speaking and Biden used calm and conversational qualities as he spoke to the nation. We all gravitate towards men and women who are essentially good people who strive to do the work of government. As such Biden has more goodwill among the citizenry for action that is designed to benefit the nation as a whole. That is a major reason he will have a strong hand going forward with his agenda.

Stability and reason are again in control from the White House. That was well reflected as Biden addressed the nation. Those traits will serve him, and the nation well, as we move forward.

Hank Aaron And President Gerald Ford, When Sports Records And History Met

Henry “Hank” Aaron, the Hall of Fame slugger whose 755 career home runs long stood as baseball’s golden mark, has died. He was 86.

One of the sport’s great stars despite playing for the small-market Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves throughout a major league career that spanned from 1954 to 1976, Aaron still holds major league records for RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477). But it was Hammerin’ Hank’s home run swing for which he was best known.

And that brings all this to a post on Caffeinated Politics.

At the time Vice President Ford attended the game where Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s home run record on 4/4/74, calling it “one of the greatest thrills of my sports’ fan days!” Ford sent this congratulatory letter after Aaron hit his 715th homer later that week.

What a day it must have been for both Aaron and Ford when in 1976 they were together at the MLB All-Star Game in Philadelphia. A week later Aaron would hit his 755th and final home run of his career on 7/20/1976. Pictured are Hank Aaron, President Ford, and Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn at the All-Star Game, 7/13/1976.

Republican National Convention 2020: Featuring Gerald Ford


I have been a national convention watcher since a teenager in 1976.  For the past 44 years, and with untold hours of coverage, this politico has thoroughly enjoyed both the Republican and Democratic conventions.  Until tonight.

While I spent a lot of time watching and listening to the Democratic National  Convention last week I will have to follow up the morning after with the newspapers regarding the Republican National Convention.  It is one thing to hear the news on a daily basis from this White House, but it would be another thing to have the bombast, and fabrications embellished for a convention performance.  No one needs to endure that.

Today I wrote a note to relatives about the necessity of our leaders having a decent character.  When I hit the send button I knew precisely how I would cover the GOP convention for Caffeinated Politics this year.  Each night of the convention I will feature a Republican from the pages of history who acted in exactly the reverse of Donald Trump. 

Tonight President Gerald Ford is the man I showcase and the topic is character. His story is one that should resonate in every home regardless of the demographics of any kind.

In 1995 Robert Wilson edited a series of lectures from notables about various Presidents of the United States.  The book was titled Character Above All.  I bought it and also the series of live lectures which accompanied the text.   The lecture and chapter on Gerald Ford is the vaccine for the infection our nation faces from Trump.

Ford had a close relationship with his stepfather, despite learning at age 13 that he was not his biological father. When he was 17, Ford had a chance meeting with Leslie King in a Grand Rapids restaurant, his biological father who by then had money, a nice car, and fine clothes. King had learned his son was a starring high school football player, but knowing his entire life that King had beat and punched his mother, Gerald wanted nothing to do with him.  No money or nice clothes could move the teenager from his foundation of decency.

Here is that portion of the events from the book which will always be a part of my collection.




It is worth noting I grew up in the era of Gerald Ford–who was sworn into the Oval Office when I was still in grade school and who constantly exemplified candor, humor, graciousness, and yes, let me say it again decency–to the time now when a low-educated and buffoonish personality resides in the White House.

Gerald Ford is recalled for standing up to his lout of a father and turning away money for the honor of taking his stepdad’s name. Meanwhile, Donald Trump mocked a disabled reporter and admits to sexual predatory ways.

Character matters.

(Tomorrow another reminder from the pages of history as the GOP Convention continues.)

Here is a photo of  Gerald and his wife Betty—they remained united in marriage to each other.  Another sign of character.


President Ford Slammed For Slip Of Tongue, While Donald Trump Lies Every Single Day And His Supporters Slobber It Up

Monday was one of those incredible news days.  Donald Trump was talking with some of the nation’s governors about the international pandemic, all of which was recorded.  It was during that series of conversations when Trump stated not hearing about testing in regards to COVID-19 “in weeks”.  The statement was shocking and simply surreal.  There is no way to turn to any television newscast, pick up any newspaper, or tune to any radio news and not become aware of the shortage of testing in our country for the coronavirus.

Monday several rural-state governors told Trump that they are struggling to obtain urgently needed medical supplies and testing equipment.  They expressed their warnings that despite the worsening coronavirus situation in New York and other urban areas, more sparsely populated parts of the country need help, too.   For Trump to be needed to be informed of that, given all that we have witnessed over the past weeks, is in and of itself, a very shocking reminder about how little Trump knows, or understands. Or, perhaps, is able to remember. 

In response to requests from the governors for more testing kits, Trump said, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks.” 

I first heard this news as I was eating a late dinner at our home.  (James cooked a homemade fish and rice dish called Brodetto and it was heaven.)  The audacity of Trump to make such a statement, considering that as recently as March 19th he was asked, why famous people (such as basketball teams) get tested when so many regular Americans are left without the option.  Without empathy, he replied, ““Perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Trump has been asked often about testing and reporters have been determined to find answers from him, and the assembled team he has around him for such appearances.

As I watched the news report during dinner, and then replayed the audio on my i-Pad, my mind raced backward in time.  The time machine landed in 1976, with President Gerald Ford making a misstep on national television during a presidential debate.



It was most obviously a blunder and made with a huge segment of the nation watching.  There have been many efforts over time to determine how much, if any, the lapse in his mouth working in time with his mind, actually mattered in the close election outcome.  But no matter how the matter lands with historical analysis it was a headline maker.  There was no way to assess it other than a strike against his candidacy.

Ford got taken to task for his words.

Decades later Trump can stand up in daily press conferences and outright lie to the nation about a host of issues.  Lately, the lies are about matters of life and death.  But the corrosive nature of such lies has a price tag in a democracy.  Once “misinformation” is initially encoded in a person’s mind, be it the idea that Iraq had nuclear stockpiles or regarding the ‘birther’ issue, it is very difficult to change perceptions through credible means of education.  In fact, attempted corrections, as we have seen from watching the Trump base, often only reinforces the initial misinformation.

I know I am headed into the tall weeds where Trump will never wander without his golf cart, nor his clueless base ever cares to head.  But when Trump lies with boldness, and does so repetitively, it flies in the face of what mankind realized as being vital starting during the Enlightenment.  Every day we deal with a world of objective facts.  They are provable.  Logic and reason follow.  Making up one’s own version of reality is not allowed when facts prove that something is either up, down, dark, or light. 

What we witnessed Monday was a complete example of why Trump is dangerous for the nation.  He is making a mockery of truth, while the lives of our fellow citizens are at stake.

Character Above All For Oval Office

In 1995 Robert Wilson edited a series of lectures from notables about various Presidents of the United States.  The book was titled Character Above All.  I bought it and also the series of live lectures which accompanied the text.   This morning, in light of the news from over the past 24 hours, I pulled it from the shelf over my shoulder in the den, and plan to read it once again.

On Sundays soon after the purchase, when traveling home to Hancock to be with the parents for the afternoon, I played the tapes in the car.  They span the years of FDR in the White House to those of George H. W Bush.  The story of how Gerald Ford as a teenager and football star stood up to his biological father and how that solid foundation was to be a part of his life as a politician has always resonated with me.  The stories are endless and the lessons important to our nation.  Over and over the presenters from the likes of Doris Kearns Goodwin to Tom Wicker underscore why character is a primary qualification for high public office.

I would strongly recommend this book as a grand example of what we need to know about those who served in the Oval Office and what we as a nation should demand going forward.

This morning I read online the best line from the many which fill my email box following the trashy Trump mess.  John Avlon stated it most plainly about character.

Character is what you do when nobody’s looking. And this video captures Trump in the middle of day, sober, a few months after being married, talking with a man he barely knows, bragging about sexual assault, while wearing a microphone.

40 Years Ago Today In The Life And Times Of Richard Nixon


nixon rebozo2

Bebe Rebozo and Richard Nixon

A still-secret report of the Senate Watergate committee staff sets forth a theory that the Watergate break-in and the intelligence-gathering plot that inspired it were the end result of a White House effort to keep $100,000p Payment secret report by panel’s staff links Watergate to Hughes-Rebozo funds.


Vice-President Gerald Ford and President Richard Nixon

Vice President Ford said today that President Nixon’s support had “eroded” so badly in the House of Representatives that he might well be impeached. However, he declined to “speculate” on what the outcome of a Senate trial might be.

President Nixon would suffer grievous financial losses if impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate – losses that he could avoid by resigning.


Senator Robert P. Griffin

Senator Robert P. Griffin wrote to President Nixon today that he would consider it an impeachable offense and vote accordingly in a Senate trial if the President defied a Senate subpoena for tapes.

President Nixon has announced the start of the 11th nationwide search for qualified men and women to serve as White House Fellows for the 1975-76 year.

The resignation of Anthony T.Augelli as a United States District Court Judge in New Jersey has been accepted by President Nixon.

For only the second time in nearly two centuries, the House of Representatives has set in motion the grave procedures of impeachment. Although it is always possible that history may reach some other judgment, most Americans today are convinced that the case against Richard Nixon is much broader and more soundly based than was the effort to remove Andrew Johnson.


Era Of President Gerald Ford And Betty Ford Closes

Some folks are nice and just hard to replace.  President Ford and his wife Betty were two such individuals.

Given all that passes for politics these days it seems near impossible to make the statement that two powerful political names could be lumped under the column ‘nice’.  But that is exactly where Gerald and Betty land in my listings.

I have always liked Gerald Ford, from the moment he was sworn into office as President.  I watched that event unfold in our family living room on a day I still recall being sunny and warm.

My respect for President Ford only deepened over the years as I grew to learn more and better understand the pardon that was granted to Richard Nixon.  During Ford’s time in office I always felt, even as a teenager, that Ford was more akin to the people I knew and grew up with than most politicians.

In politics that matters.

Betty was a brave and often outspoken woman, and the fact she told others what was on her mind made an impression on me as a young person, and something I still warmly recall when thinking of her life.  This past week Betty died at the age of 93.

The final goodbyes were said today as a private burial took place that allowed Betty to rest alongside her husband who passed away in 2006.

As stories go, and there are many that we all can share about the lives of these two national treasures, the one I read again today sums up all the imagery we need to know as we close this chapter of our American story.

Following the 1976 Republican National Convention the President made a stop in Russell, Kansas, the hometown of his Vice-Presidential nominee, Senator Dole.   The small town turned out at the courthouse square and words of thanks and spirited words were given.  After all was done President Ford was in his limousine leaving town and reporters noted that his car turned down a side street.

President Ford had just allowed Dole’s mom, then age 73, to be dropped off at her house.  Many stories were told of the hidden key kept in the drainpipe which allowed her to get into the house, and how Ford entered for a minute before leaving town.

Talk about one of those perfect political moments!

Over the past days I have again been reading a book I have enjoyed many times over the decades.  Not many reads make it for more than one go-around in my life.  The reason Ron Nessen’s ” It Sure Looks Different From the Inside” gets such high praise is due to the principal characters in the book.

Nessen was the press secretary for President Ford, and has many wonderful and insightful moments to share.  In this time of total political bombast it all may seem too serene, but for those of us who recall the years after Nixon’s departure know all was not easy in politics…..far from it.  Yet there is a warmth and assurance that Ford conveyed to the nation that allowed all of us to get through the national storm.

Now all that remains from the Ford era are the words of the historians.

Sadly, with the news this past week, and the burial today, the era of Gerald and Betty Ford is over.



First Lady Betty Ford’s Life In Pictures

Betty Ford remains one of America’s special First Ladies.

From being smart and outspoken on the issues of the day, to being fragile and real as a human being even though occupying a most visible place in the nation’s political drama, Betty Ford was a unique woman.

There was so much to admire about this woman.  I knew her growing up from the newspaper stories and television broadcasts that made her seem like any average person, as opposed to some far-off wife of a politician.  That was her charm.

Her candor and forthright discussion of her personal battles with breast cancer,  prescription drug addiction and alcoholism along with her progressive views about abortion, sex, gay rights, marijuana, the Equal Rights Amendment  made her someone we all could connect with.

Betty Ford also voiced her support for gay and lesbian rights in the workplace and later, with the former President, in favor of same-gender marriage. “God put us all here for His own purposes; it’s not my business to try and second-guess Him,” she wrote several years earlier. “I think Anita Bryant’s taking action against the gay population was ill-considered. I don’t believe people should lose their jobs because of their sexual preferences…”

President Gerald Ford could have picked no better soul mate and political partner.

Betty Ford died Friday at the age of 93.

Betty Ford could be late for meetings while in the White House, jealous at times of other women, opinionated about policy, and also vulnerable to the slings that get cast at those who reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  But there was one thing the world always saw when they looked at Betty Ford.

They saw the smile.

There are easier ways to make one’s way through life than to be the wife of the President, or the spouse of a very important member of Congress.  With grace, poise, and a continuous attitude of finding a way to make it over the latest hill that confronted her, Betty Ford endeared herself to the public.

Not everyone who lives in the public arena is missed at the end.  Betty Ford is one that will be fondly recalled, and warmly thought of as years pass.

There are a series of photos of the former First Lady that I suspect many will enjoy.