I have mixed feelings about giving Ford the same honors as the other presidents. He was not elected to the office. He didn't serve a full term. And he robbed the nation of the chance to find out if Nixon was guilty of a crime, which I think was a crime in itself. Here's why:
1. A person is presumed innocent till proved guilty
2. Nixon never confessed to any crime, he merely took responsibility for the crimes of others who worked indirectly for him.
3. Since a criminal must be convicted in order to need a pardon, Ford's pardon convicted Nixon without a trial. That would be a violation of the 5th, 6th and 7th amendments of the constitution which Ford swore to defend and protect.
I also have a problem with the 25th amendment which put Ford into the White House. IMHO, the progression should be the same for Veep as it is for Prez: the sitting Speaker of the House should be next in line. Ford was the minority leader, which made him the top Congressman from the Nixon's party, but had Nixon resigned while no Veep was in office (this could have happened*) the Speaker would have become President.
Ford had a reputation of being a man of integrity, and perhaps during the majority of his career it was deserved. Though it does take a highly political person to become the head of his party in Congress.
I also have a problem with his choice of Vice President. Nelson Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men in the world, he was never elected to any public office after being governor of New York from 1959-1973. He failed in his three runs for the Presidential nomination in in 1964, 1968, and 1972, all undertaken while he was a sitting governor. My mother refused to vote for him (we lived in NY then) because he had been granted a divorce from his wife of 32 years when the only grounds for divorce in NY state was proven adultery. He married one of his aides, Margaretta "Happy" Fitler Murphy, a month after she had divorced her first husband. Happy was 18 years younger than Nelson, not such a big gap considering she was 37 at the time of the wedding.
Ford also became famous during his time in office for falling down. The jibe was he shouldn't play President without a helmet. He had been a college football player, and had a couple of nasty tumbles (mostly from the steps of planes) but I think the press went overboard in making him look like a bumbling aged jock.
*From Spiro Agnew's resignation on October 10, 1973 to Ford's confirmation on December 6 of that year, there was no VP in office, and under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House (at the time it was Carl Albert, Democrat from Oklahoma) would have become President.