Nelson Rockefeller and his confirmation hearings for the office of vice-President, September 1974.
Picture this; The President has resigned from office only a month earlier, in the midst of one of the biggest scandals to hit the White House in decades, if ever. Prior to that, his vice-President resigned several months prior to his leaving, also in the midst of a scandal involving corruption, influence peddling and income tax evasion. So the President appoints House minority leader Gerald R. Ford from Michigan to take former vice-President Spiro Agnew‘s place.
So when President Nixon resigns, the person in succession is the vice-President. In this case it’s Gerald Ford who now becomes the 30th President of the United States. He would be the first non-elected vice-President and President ever to serve those offices.
The country is reeling – this just hasn’t happened before – A President appoints a vice-President who in turn assumes the Presidency, and now this appointed President himself has to appoint a vice-President.
He appoints a man who was once a New Deal Democrat during the Roosevelt Administration, from one of the wealthiest families in America – has the distinction of being one of the last of the Liberal Republicans the party has, and was once famously quoted that nobody gave a “good goddamn” about the vice-presidency.
And then he goes through a grueling confirmation process in order to become the second non-elected vice-President in history.
Far-fetched you say? The stuff of Science-Fiction or the plot of a Die Hard sequel you say? In 1974, this was the state of our country, in a post-Watergate atmosphere. An atmosphere that most people had a hard time believing and that virtually nobody on Capitol Hill thought would ever happen. And yet it did.
So as a reminder and to hear excerpts of that confirmation and to get some background over the proceedings, the climate and the conclusions, here is a re-cap of the Nelson Rockefeller Confirmation hearings as broadcast by NET (pre-PBS) on September 27, 1974.
In case you were wondering if the current goings on in Washington are new or even unusual.