Friday, December 29, 2006

Gerald Ford, the Presidents, and UFOs

I don't want to say much else about Gerald Ford and his legacy of pardoning the crimes of the Nixon Administration, or being the initial planting of what would become the Bush Administration.

But after his death, and on topic for the blog, let us not forget that when Gerald Ford was a Congressman from Michigan, he was the highest profile person publically interested in UFOs. As Frank Warren writes, Rep. Ford represented his constituents. And in 1966, his constituents were right in the middle of a major UFO flap. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, scientific advisor to Project Blue Book, coined the infamous phrase "swamp gas" to explain a multiple witness sighting in Michigan that year. As Warren writes, Ford was quite vociferous and aggressive in getting attention on this issue, playing off the notion that the Air Force was ridiculing the people of Michigan. Eventually, as Warren notes, Ford's efforts led to the University of Colorado report, better known as the Condon Report, and the closing of Project Blue Book and any official (though declassified documents have shown that at least some unofficial interest continued) federal interest in UFOs until investigations of the Roswell Incident in the 1990s.

Ford was one of several American presidents with experiences or interests in UFOs. I have just discovered that there is an entire website dedicated to the history of the White House and UFOs (I would note that not everything there has the same level of reliable documentation). More on Ford and UFOs can be read there. Jimmy Carter reported a UFO to NICAP in 1973 (the sighting was in 1969). The report can be read here. Ronald Reagan also had a UFO sighting, though he didn't report it other than as a story later. But he brought up the topic several times, and famously speculated at the UN that the USA and USSR would cooperate in the face of an alien threat. Bill Clinton didn't claim a UFO sighting, but he did have substantial interest in the topic. One of his aides (John Podesta) was fascinated with the topic, while Clinton tasked one of his lawyers (Webster Hubbell, as noted in his memoirs) to hunt out government information on UFOs and the JFK assassination, upon coming into power. And Clinton mentioned the topic more than a few times, though a great deal of rumor and lore about Clinton and UFOs grew exponentially with the net.

Not typically the stuff of history class.

UPDATE October 22, 2007: Dennis Kucinich, presidential candidate, in addition to having a ridiculously hot wife, has also had a UFO sighting.

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