Betty Ford and Her Time in Office

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In December of 1973, Gerald Ford, who had in the previous year considered retirement from politics, was appointed as Vice President under Richard Nixon, after Vice President Spiro Angew forcibly resigned. On August 9, 1974, in an unprecedented move, Richard Nixon resigned from Presidential office under the political and social pressure of the captivating Watergate scandal. In this torrential turn of circumstances, under United States law, Gerald Ford became the 38th President of the United States and Betty Ford was officially the First Lady. Soon, it became apparent that the new First Lady was going to make an impact. When Betty became First Lady at age 54, America was expecting a continuation of the status quo: caring for Jerry as a political housewife and, like the modest Pat Nixon, hosting luncheons and visiting hospitals, schools, and orphanages. Like many First Ladies before her, Pat had valued her popular image as a model middle-class homemaker, supportive wife and devoted mother, and she had often been portrayed as the quintessential traditionalist in stark relief to the rising persona of the “liberated woman” (Perlstein). Sharply reversing this trend of conservative traditionalism, Betty chose instead to embody the values of this new generation of liberated women and to embrace many socially taboo issues with openness. As First Lady and cohort to President Gerald Ford (1974-1977), Betty Ford used candor and her national power to influence the controversial topics of

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