Let me finish tonight with the First Lady brave enough to be Betty Ford.
The phrase itself – Betty Ford – is with us today as an admission that we need such a place. Many of us. "She's at Betty Ford." "He's checked into Betty Ford."
It's a haven for people with reality biting at their heels, people with addictions, people who keep doing the same thing expecting different results – until one bad day they decide "I need help." "I need to go to Betty Ford."
Before she was a place of haven and help, Betty Ford was a real, live person with problems of her own. Her family had done an intervention, all of them had come and told her she needed to do something about her drinking and addiction to prescription drugs or she would destroy all that honesty and goodness.
Look, I know enough of this to know what I'm talking about. Drinking has gotten the better of a lot of people – good people.
"Betty Ford" is a code-phrase for the fact that there comes a time and there is a place when and where you can deal with it.
I knew President Ford a bit. He was always open to doing an interview with me because he was friends with my old boss Tip O'Neill – real friends – the kind they had in Congress in the old days – across the aisles. He was a good guy and I have to think a good husband.
Betty must have been something. You heard the things "she" said in interviews – her openness about homosexuality, abortion, cancer and even her marital relations with Jerry.
They were Republicans – she and her husband – not Tea Partiers – Republicans. They believed in government – less government to be sure, but what government could do for this country. They did what they could for America and that meant, in her case, for individual Americans – people with real lives to lead - sometimes real challenges, and she gave them hope.
Her name – Betty Ford – is a name for that hope.