“Our long national nightmare” ended 40 years ago this Saturday.
That’s right. Two score have elapsed since Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon as president with those immortal words.
Ford delivered his inaugural address about 15 hours after Nixon told a national audience in prime time that he would resign the presidency under the weight of the Watergate scandal and the likelihood of impeachment and eviction from office.
Though Nixon resigned in disgrace, Ford got the raw end of the deal timing-wise, at least for then 9-year-old me.
Like many similarly aged, I was permitted – indeed ordered – by my parents to stay up past my bedtime on Thursday, Aug. 8, 1974, to watch and hear Nixon say that he “must put the interest of America first [and] resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour and in this office.”
But at noon on Friday, Aug. 9, 1974, I was back at day camp playing dodgeball and regretfully missed Ford’s “straight talk among friends.”
If only I had a smartphone.