Gerald Ford's death brought to mind this passage from a biography by Zachary Karabell, which I've slightly edited:
[He] may have been the most reluctant president ever to occupy the White House. At no point in his life did he want to be president, and it is safe to say that he never dreamt of being president, not because he had a low estimate of his own abilities but because he simply didn't want the job. . . Offered the vice presidency, he of course accepted, because he had lived his life in a system that demanded service to one's party and there was no greater honor than being called on by that party. . . . He didn't inspire great devotion, and he didn't cause great revulsion. Whatever answer he would have given to Machiavelli's leadership question, he was neither loved nor feared, and he wasn't hated either. He was an unexpected president during a time when no one expected much from the presidency, and in an age of low expectations he was more than satisfactory. . . . In everything he did, [he] was a gentleman, and that is rare and precious. It reminds us that adversaries can be treated with respect, that democracy can survive differences, and that leadership isn't just great words and deeds. [He] managed to be a decent man and a decent president in an era when decency was in short supply.
For those who want presidents to be heroes, and, failing that, villains, for those who expect them to be larger-than-life figures, [his] tenure in office isn't satisfying. The nature of our expectations would have to change dramatically for [him] to be evaluated as one of this country's best presidents. And yet, in spite of what Shakespeare wrote, some men are neither born great, nor achieve greatness, nor have it thrust upon them. Some people just do the best they can in a difficult situation, and sometimes that turns out just fine.
It's a passage that aptlly summarizes the presidency of Gerald Ford, a man who never wanted to be president. The thing that interests me is that it wasn't written about Mr. Ford, but about Chester Arthur, another man who never wanted to be president but turned out just fine when he found himself in the White House. The stories of Chester Arthur, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford aren't quite enough to make me think that anyone who wants to be president should ipso facto be disqualified from serving, but they suggest that the idea isn't as odd as it might sound.