The Reluctant Lady

ReviewCase 9.3 in Ch. 9 ofLeadership: Theory and Practice below.
Writea 250 word response to the following question:
Formatyour paper consistent with APA guidelines.
Betty Ford admits that August 9 1974 the day her husband was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States was the saddest day of my life (Ford 1978 p. 1).
Elizabeth Bloomer Ford was many thingsa former professional dancer and dance teacher the mother of four nearly grown children the wife of 13-term U.S. Congressman Gerald Jerry R. Ford who was lookingforward to their retirementbut she never saw being the countrys First Lady as her destiny.
As she held the Bible her husbands hand rested on while he took the oath of office Betty began a journey in which she would become many more things: a breast cancer survivor an outspoken advocate of womens rights a recovering alcoholic and addict and cofounder and president of the Betty Ford Center a nonprofit treatment center for substance abuse.
The Fords path to the White House began in October 1973 when Jerry was tapped to replace then-U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew who had resigned. After only 9 months in that role Jerry became the U.S. President after Richard M. Nixon left office amidst the Watergate scandal.
In her first days as the First Lady Betty became known for her openness and candor. At the time women were actively fighting for equal rights in the workplace and in society. Less than half of American women were employed outside the home and womens earnings were only 38% of their male counterparts (Spraggins 2005). Betty raised a number of eyebrows in her first press conference when she spoke out in support of abortion rights women in politics and the Equal Rights Amendment.
Betty hadnt even been in the White House a month when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She again broke with social conventions and spoke openly about the diagnosis and treatment for a disease that was not widely discussed in public. With her cooperationNewsweekmagazine printed a complete account of her surgery and treatment which included a radical mastectomy. This openness helped raise awareness of breast cancer screening and treatment options and created an atmosphere of support and comfort for other women fighting the disease.
Lying in the hospital thinking of all those women going for cancer checkups because of me Id come to recognize more clearly the power of the woman in the White House she said in her first autobiographyThe Times of My Life.Not my power but the power of the position a power which could be used to help (Ford 1978 p. 194).
After her recuperation Betty made good use of that newfound power. She openly supported and lobbied for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment a bill that would ensure that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex (Francis 2009).
In an interview with60 Minutes Betty drew the ire of many conservatives when she candidly shared her views on the provocative issues of abortion rights premarital sex and marijuana use. After the interview airedpublic opinion of Betty plummeted but her popularity quickly rebounded and within months her approval rating had climbed to 75%.
At the same time Betty was busy with the duties of First Lady entertaining dignitaries and heads of state from countries across the globe. In 1975 she began actively campaigning for her husband for the 1976 presidential election inspiring buttons that read Vote for Bettys Husband. Ford lost the election to Jimmy Carter and because he was suffering from laryngitis Betty stepped into the spotlight to read Jerrys concession speech to the country congratulating Carter on his victory. Bettys time as First Lady ended in January 1977 and the Fords retired to Rancho Mirage California and Vail Colorado.
A little more than a year later at the age of 60 Betty began another personal battle: overcoming alcoholism and an addiction to prescription medicine. Betty had a 14-year dependence on painkillers for chronic neck spasms arthritis and a pinched nerve but refused to admit she was addicted to alcohol. After checking into the Long Beach Naval Hospitals Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Service she found the strength to face her demons and again went public with her struggles.
I have found that I am not only addicted to the medications Ive been taking for my arthritis but also to alcohol she wrote in a statement released to the public. I expect this treatment and fellowship to be a solution for my problems and I embrace it not only for me but for all the others who are here to participate (Ford 1978 p. 285).
Betty Ford found recovering from addiction was particularly daunting at a time when most treatment centers were geared toward treating men. The female alcoholic has more emotional problems more health problems more parenting problems makes more suicide attempts than the alcoholic man Betty explained in her second autobiographyBetty a Glad Awakening(Ford 1987 p. 129).
For this reason Betty helped to establish the nonprofit Betty Ford Center in 1982 in Rancho Mirage. The center splits its space equally between male and female patients but the treatment is gender specific with programs for the entire family system affected by addiction. The centers success has attracted celebrities as well as everyday people including middle-class moms executives college students and laborers. Bettys activism in the field of recovery earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1999.
Speaking at an alumni reunion of Betty Ford Center patients Betty said Im really proud of this center. And Im really grateful for my own recovery because with my recovery I was able to help some other people come forward and address their own addictions. And I dont thinktheres anything as wonderful in life as being able to help someone else (Ford 1987 p. 217).

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