By Sheila Weidenfeld, Fmr. Press Secretary for Betty Ford
There are many parallels between our current times and the time of Ford’s presidency. Those were extraordinarily difficult times and today we face similar difficulties both with credibility in government and belief in politicians. It’s interesting that it was his death that death served a purpose, and that is to reawaken people to those things that they loved about him - his honesty, integrity and compassion.
When he came into office he said he wanted an open administration, something totally necessary at that time. Betty Ford was determined to be herself as first lady and that’s why there’s such interest in her today. She was not a traditional first lady in the sense that she was suppressed and afraid of being honest—and therefore silent. The Fords had a wonderful, loving marriage but the fact is that he was gone a lot of it, and it was not easy for her to raise four children, often with him away. So, like all couples, their marriage had ups and downs. For her, marriage was a 70-30 proposition, for each partner. Fortunately, the White House brought them together, because the residence was upstairs and his office downstairs, and they were able to see each other “almost” whenever they wanted to.