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For many Americans, Gerald Ford evokes an image of either an unelected president who abruptly pardoned his corrupt predecessor or an accident-prone klutz who failed to provide skilled leadership. In Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s, Yanek Mieczkowski reexamines Ford's two and a half years in office, showing that his presidency successfully confronted the most vexing crisis of postwar era. Viewing the 1970s primarily through the lens of economic events, Mieczkowski argues that Ford's understanding of the national economy was better than any modern president, that he oversaw a dramatic reduction of inflation, and that he attempted to solve the energy crisis with judicious policies. Throughout his presidency, Ford labored under the legacy of Watergate. Democrats scored landslide victories in the 1974 midterm elections, and within an anemic Republican Party, the right wing challenged Ford's leadership, even as pundits predicted the GOP's death. Yet Ford reinvigorated the party and fashioned a 1976 campaign strategy against Jimmy Carter that brought him from thirty points behind to a dead heat on election day. Mieczkowski draws on numerous personal interviews with former President Ford, cabinet officials, and members of the Ninety-fourth Congress, and he skillfully weaves into his discussion such 1970s cultural phenomena as the spoofs about the president on Saturday Night Live. The first major work on Ford to appear in more than a decade, Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s combines the best of biography and presidential history to paint an intriguing portrait of a president, his times, and his legacy.
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