Celebrity Then And Now
Gerald R. Ford
Famous For: 38th President of the United StatesCurrently Known For: Former President of the United States
Gerald R. Ford
Famous For 38th President of the United States
Currently Known For Former President of the United States

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." He might not have been the most successful president in American history, and had an incredibly short run in office, but history has been kinder to Gerald R. Ford over the years. Ford took office following the resignation of Richard Nixon, in August 1974, and served as the nation’s president until January 1977. Ford had lost his bid for a second term when he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election by an electoral total of 297 to 240.

Pop culture was not very kind to Ford during his presidency, as they portrayed him as sort of a bumbling oaf that wasn’t capable of handling the nation. However, if you look at his past, you’d be able to see that that wasn’t actually the case. Ford spent most of his youth living in the state of Michigan where he was an Eagle Scout and one of the best football players in all of the state.

A lot of colleges were interested in having Ford on their football team, and he wound up staying in state, heading a couple of hours east to Ann Arbor to play for the University of Michigan. Ford was an exceptional player in college, and graduated from college with his Bachelor of Arts in economics. An NFL career had been awaiting Ford, but he decided to go a different path.

Ford continued his education by enrolling at Yale Law School where he shined as a student. He would graduate toward the top of his class in 1941, receiving his Juris Doctor. Not only was Ford an excellent football player, but also a fine student. Once he got his law degree, Ford moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan to work as a lawyer before the United States’s involvement in World War II.

Following the war, Ford would campaign to represent Michigan in Congress, serving as a state representative from January 1949 to December 1973. It was then that Ford was selected as the country’s vice president under Richard Nixon after Spiro T. Agnew had resigned. Then, of course, Ford would fill in for another resigned politician when Nixon left office.

Ford was an easy punching bag for people, especially since he was the only person to be named the vice president and president without being elected to either seat. Because America was going through some very tough times domestically in terms of the economy, Ford was popular to blame for just about any problem. He was portrayed as the dullard that lucked his way to the highest poltiical position in the world, often ignoring his accomplishments before politics.

What made Ford even easier to criticize during his 895 day presidency (the shortest by a president that didn’t end in a tragic death) was the fact that he pardoned Nixon following the Watergate scandal. Ford had a lot of power thrust upon him unexpectedly and in a short amount of time, and his short presidency was filled with some head scratching moments.

There’s even a popular episode of “The Simpsons” where Ford becomes the titular family’s new neighbor after George H.W. Bush moves out. He’s seen in the episode as a dullard that simply enjoys beer, nachos and football, making it easy for him to get along with someone like Homer Simpson. Portrayals of Ford similar to that one have been making the rounds for years, up until his 2006 death.

Harvard, which should be noted is Yale’s biggest rival, even pointed out that Jerry ter Horst, the former press secretary for Ford, said that he “wasn’t dumb, he lacked knowledge.” In the article from 1975, they also noted that Ford wasn’t an avid reader, getting through about one book per month and preferred to watch television to unwind.

There were a lot of reasons that created for a perfect storm of making Ford an easy target, between the perceived “dumb jock” mentality to the presidency without being elected and everything that happened during his short time in office. But what would his IQ actually be, and where would it rank among the presidents?

Believe it or not, Ford was estimated to have an IQ of 130.2, which would put him into the “gifted” category. As for how he stacks up against other presidents, Ford does quite well for himself. He wouldn’t be in the upper half in terms of IQ, but would still be above the likes of George Washington and more than 10 other presidents.

Those are pretty good numbers in the grand scheme of things, and goes to show you that Ford was highly underrated for his intelligence. After all, finishing toward the top of your class at the Yale Law School is no easy feat. Perhaps there was some lowering of intelligence in his later years after a football career, especially when we know what we do now regarding brain health in America’s most popular sport.

Still, Ford would live to be 93 years old and remains a popular figure in the state of Michigan. He was the only president that really called the state home, and has many buildings with his name prominently displayed upon them. Sure his presidency was quite forgettable, but it doesn’t mean that he was anywhere close to a dullard.

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