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Former President Ford Laid to Rest

Former President Ford's body arrived in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday following a state funeral held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Political analysts reflect on the life of the former president.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now some thoughts about Gerald Ford from Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, President Bush said that the country needed Gerald Ford at that time. The question, of course, is: Is there a relevance for the same kind of need in the country now, for a healer president, a healer national figure?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Well, clearly that's been the reaction to the death. The main theme has been his healing abilities. They could have picked out many different aspects of his life, but it was that.

    And the pardon, which is now universally celebrated, the idea that he could move the country beyond partisanship, that is clearly what a lot of people want. Whether we're going to get there, I'm not sure.

    I think one thing he represented was Midwestern values. He grew up in a time when the Midwest was not only the population heart of the country, but also the economic heart of the country. And he represented a style of politics which is dominant in the Upper Midwest and remains dominant, of moderation, relatively non-ideological, politics is about conversation and doing deals.

    And even when he was a member of the legislature, it was about conversations, friendships across the line, living here in the Washington area, and having social relationships with people in the opposing party. That sort of stuff doesn't happen that much.

    But I do think he represented the Midwest and that style of politics, which may be due for a comeback.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree that there are Midwestern values with Gerald Ford? Does that resonate with you?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Oh, I think he's quintessentially Midwestern. I mean, I think there were Truman-like qualities to him.

    There was a total lack of any pretense, bombast, no self-importance to him. He was always Jerry. He introduced himself as Jerry Ford. I mean, that's who he was.

    I mean, he said hello to elevator operators on Capitol Hill. Presidents don't do that; senators don't do that; most congressmen don't do that.

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