We never met each other, but in a sense, we got sober together. While I may have had a few months on Betty, in terms of time, it's safe to say that she definitely had me beat flat in terms of accomplishment!
Before Betty went public with her addiction and recovery, there was very little said about the subject in the media, and what was said was much more likely to be negative, than not. Alcoholism was portrayed as comical or tragic; drug addicts were social degenerates. Recovery was unknown territory, and very few Americans had the least idea how it worked. There were a small handful of individuals who had gone public with their recovery, but they were generally considered a freak show--Hollywood people, show biz types. Certainly not a First Lady, wife of the President of the United States.
And a good Republican, as well!
Betty turned on the lights, opened the closet door, and coaxed addiction and alcoholism out of the closet. She identified the elephant in the living room, pointed out that the Emperor's New Clothes were seriously lacking in taste, and above all, made it safe for thousands of middle-class people to talk about their problems and okay for them to seek help.
And she did it clean and sober and with style, grace and her trademark candor.
So, RIP to my fellow 70's graduate from the school of hard knocks, or as the old-timers used to say, 'John Barleycorn University'. I am grateful to have gotten sober during the 'Betty Ford Era'.
I would have voted for you for President.