Her White House stay was short-lived, but the lessons of Betty Ford's experience remain vividly instructive. By accident of a national political crisis which catapulted her to the rank of the first lady in 1974, Mrs. Ford's tenure lasted a brief two years until her husband, Gerald R. Ford lost his bid for reelection. During that time, she developed a relationship of candor with the press and public. She spoke her mind on social and moral issues that were at the forefront of public debate. The positions she took were not always popular with the majority of Americans, many of whom complained bitterly, especially after her notorious interview on CBS's 60 Minutes. Indeed, Mrs. Ford's rhetorical responses between 1974 and 1976 show how difficult it can be for a well-meaning public figure who must lean--"onstage"--to fill the role into which she had been so abruptly cast.

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