I remember when Gerald Ford became President.
I was a teenager with a fairly unformed political consciousness; as I recall, most people my age were much more interested in Betty Ford, who seemed like the cool mom we all wished we had, and in the Ford kids, who were refreshingly hip and edgy for Presidential offspring. Hindsight being 20/20, the current paens to Ford's reconciling act in pardoning Richard Nixon tend to overlook the fact that, at the time, this was a highly controversial move, one that made many Nixon haters Ford haters as well, and that no doubt played a major role in Ford's subsequent election defeat.
But, having said all that -- after the Sturm und Drang of the Nixon administration, Ford provided a welcome counterpoint of quiet competency...a latter-day Cincinnatus who, finding himself in an extraordinary situation, met the challenge with dignity and grace and skill.
Watching and hearing all the tributes to Ford this week, I wonder if we can ever again enjoy a Chief Executive who hasn't been manufactured and spun by focus groups and the noisiest subsets of his or her own party; who isn't in thrall to his or her political party to the point where s/he is unable to bargain and compromise with the other side; who has the humility to just do the job with the sort of detachment that prevents the temptation to grasp at personal power. Maybe in these times only an "accidental" President has the ability to be and do those things.