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Bill Goodling: Jerry Ford might have been the most important president he served with

Bill Goodling greets Sen. Joe Lieberman, left, during John McCain’s stop in August in York. Background posts: York-based historian shakes hands with 8 U.S. presidents, Chief execs visits to York and Columbia’s clock museum set presidential timepiece exhibit opening.

Of the five presidents who served during Bill Goodling’s years in Congress, Gerald Ford is remarkably memorable.
‘Jerry Ford may have been the most important (president) simply from the standpoint of being the kind of person that could bring the country together again after the Watergate experience,’ Goodling said, at the time of the 19th District congressman’s retirement from office in 2000.
‘A lot of presidents talked about vetoing a lot in order to balance the budget,’ Goodling said. ‘(Ford’s) the only one that I can remember that actually did it. He probably vetoed more in his short time there than all of the other ones combined.’

Here are Goodling’s comments on four other presidents, as published in a York Daily Record article (12/8/08):

Bill Clinton: ‘This man had the greatest potential to be the greatest (president I served with),’ Goodling said. ‘He had every tool there was. . . . He had the greatest potential. He didn’t realize that potential.’ Goodling said that he was so impressed with then-Gov. Bill Clinton when he met him at a 1985 education conference in Little Rock that he wrote him a note complimenting him on his speaking style and the heart he put into it. ‘I probably went overboard when I used the word “sincerity.” ‘ Goodling said. ‘As I got to know him, I think, the end was much more important than how you got there. We could have done so much more in the area of education, but he was inclined to whatever was flashy and whatever was sexy . . . , rather than think about in-depth consequences and the long-term outcome.’

George Bush:
‘George Bush reminded me a lot of my father,’ Goodling said, ‘in that he felt inwardly all the compassion and the sympathy that anyone could ever feel, but had a difficult time showing that. . . . If you could have taken George Bush’s deep, sincere compassion that he had inwardly and injected that into Clinton, or take Clinton’s ability to charm and articulate and put it into Bush, then you would have had a president you would have liked to have cloned.’
Ronald Reagan: Goodling said that Ronald Reagan was probably the most effective at dealing with Congress of the presidents who served during his time in Washington. He told a story of Reagan meeting with members of Congress at Camp David and putting them at ease with a Jimmy Stewart impersonation. ‘He was a low-key person,’ Goodling said. ‘He knew what he was up to.’
Jimmy Carter: Jimmy Carter, the second of five presidents Goodling served with during his congressional career, got a mixed review from Goodling. ‘He was probably one of the most decent human beings,’ Goodling said. ‘I can’t say that he was effective as a president, but he was a very, very decent human being.’

– In York County, as the saying goes, all politics is local: Read more at this blog’s politics category.
– For a concise list of past presidential visits, click here.
– For a whole blog category filled with posts on presidential visits, click here.