Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from April 2, 2009

The Accidental President

Two angry broads took shots at President Ford within three weeks of each other.

How's that for a lede to a blog entry?

Well, anyway, the angry broads missed. Maybe because Ford stumbled at just the right time.

Jerry Ford did that a lot -- stumbled, if those old enough can remember.

Jerry slipped coming down the stairs of a plane. He tripped over his own feet on a tarmac, holding an umbrella -- also near a plane. He'd play golf and that became hazardous to OTHER people's health -- if you were within hook or shank range. He tried skiing and you can imagine what happened -- another "oopsy daisy."

So it was no wonder that the slapstick comedian Chevy Chase began impersonating Jerry Ford in various Saturday Night Live sketches. Chase looked nothing like Ford, which even added to the hilarity. All that mattered was that he act like Ford, which fit Chevy's propensity for taking pratfalls like a glove.

But back to the angry broads.

Within a few weeks of each other in September 1975, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore (why do assassins and serial killers always have three names?) pulled pistols from their handbags or wherever, took aim at President Ford, and fired.

Or tried to fire, in Fromme's case.

It was in Sacramento, Calif., and Fromme, then 27, purportedly wanted to plead with Ford about the fate of the California redwood trees. Instead, she came armed with a Colt .45 automatic pistol. But the firing chamber was empty. She was immediately restrained by Secret Service agents. She later told authorities that she purposely removed the gun's cartridge prior to showing up to see Ford. Ohhhh-kay.

Seventeen days later, also in California (San Francisco), it was Moore's turn. Standing just 40 feet away from Ford as he emerged from a hotel, Moore pulled the trigger on her .38 revolver. But a bystander, a man named Oliver Sipple, saw Moore's gun-toting hand a fraction of a second in time and shoved at it, causing Moore's shot to go way off course, ricocheting off the hotel's entrance.

Two angry broads, two guns. Within seventeen days of each other. Both in California. All that anger directed at him, and Jerry Ford didn't even go looking for the job to begin with!

Jerry Ford, in typical repose

Ford was the Accidental President. And not just in terms of his clumsiness.

He was in the House of Representatives, a Republican from Michigan, minding his own business when President Nixon tabbed him to replace the disgraced Spiro Agnew, who resigned his vice presidency. Ford was reluctant, but said fine.

A little more than a year later, Nixon himself quit and just like that, Ford became president, without so much as winning one state caucus.

Fitting and proper, I suppose, that the clumsy Ford would stumble upon the presidency.

Fromme was one of Charlie Manson's girls. Why she deliberately sabotaged herself and showed up with a gun that wasn't going to fire is beyond me. Of course, she was a Manson girl, so that should explain it. While in jail, Fromme attacked another prisoner with the claw of a hammer. She's still behind bars at age 60, though she can be released on parole this August.

Moore was a political radical and a one-time FBI informant. She was released from prison on parole on December 31, 2007 at the age of 77. She served 32 years.

Sara Jane Moore: the second murderous broad angry at Ford in Sept. '75

Here's what she said at her sentencing hearing in 1975 about taking a potshot at Ford: "Am I sorry I tried? Yes and no. Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life. And, no, I'm not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger."

Ladies, you gotta be pretty mad at a guy to not be sorry that you tried to kill him, don't ya?

Poor Jerry Ford. Only twice in American history has a woman tried to kill the president. And both of them tried to kill our man from Michigan, Jerry Ford. The Accidental President, who would have found it fine and dandy to stay in the U.S. House.

Of course, U-M men always did find the going rough in California. Just ask all the football teams.


  1. Hi Greg:

    Interesting post,however let me set the record straight on what really happened when Sara Jane attempted to assassinate Pres. Ford.

    There is a lot of misinformation on the Net even though I have published a book about the event and the era.

    Sara Jane's .44 Charter Arms revolver was confiscation by the SFPD just the day before, Sunday, Sept. 21, when she made a threat against Ford. Even though the Secret Service had her in custody, they let her go thinking she was really not a threat at all.

    The morning of Ford's address to the World Council at the St. Francis Hotel, Sara Jane bought a gun from a dealer and drove directly to the hotel, never testing it. Turns out, the sight was off by 6 inches.

    No one was looking at Sara Jane when they were waiting for Ford to come through the doors. All eyes were straight ahead, including Sipple's.

    She raised her arm and fired. She missed Ford's head by six inches. This is documented by Judge Samuel Conti (in court documents which are public) who is still on the bench, retired FBI Special Agent Richard Vitamanti and former SFPD officer who tackled Sara Jane, Tim Hettrich.

    Vitamanti's quote is, "She had him between the eyes."

    Fortunately for everyone---Sipple, a former Marine, dove at Moore and bumped her arm before she could correct her aim, which she was attempting to do.


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