Best I can figure, the unholy combination of the discovery of political satire, a teacher’s ability to make our country’s history and the workings of our republic exciting (Thanks, Mrs. Henderson!), and the unceasing desire of a semi-literate adolescent boy to be a smart ass, converged to give me my admiration of President Gerald R. Ford. “Write it when I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford by Thomas Defrank only confirmed and deepened that esteem.Regardless of any political disagreement one might have with President Ford, his decency as a human being is unquestionable. Knowing what the country needed, as well as knowing that by answering that need he was all but certainly destroying any hope he might have of winning re-election, President Ford stepped in from of America and the world to say “our long national nightmare is over.” In an age when finding a politician who actually believes in something is about as likely as Bill Clinton becoming a Jesuit, President Ford’s words and deeds demonstrated what belief in a principle, an ideal – no matter the cost – looks like.The most poignant moments, when the ability of Michigan All-American Center begins to falter, are described by Mr. Defrank with such compassion and earnestness that rather than feel sorrow for President Ford, I began to share Defrank’s grief for such a mentor and great man. Defrank did this by subtly repeating Ford’s comments, and reflecting the slight loss of memory experienced as one ages. Ford’s concern and compassion for others is easily seen in two examples from late in his life. As the war in Vietnam came to it’s conclusion, Ford kept the American embassy open as long as possible. The iconic image of that time became the thousands who climbed the ladder on top of the embassy and onto helicopters that offered freedom and safety. Today that ladder is the center piece of President Ford’s library and is something Ford took great pride in. The other example is his treatment of Ronald Reagan. Ford was no fan of Ronald Reagan, and to his dying day believed that Reagan ultimately cost Ford re-election. If ever Ford had an enemy, it was Reagan. That all changed when President Reagan’s Alzheimer’s was made public in 1994. From that moment until his death, President Ford stood by his rival in every way possible. President Ford knew that the most important aspect of leadership, regardless of all other variables, is the care, empathy and genuine love of one’s fellow man.