Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My President Ford

My President Ford
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 27, 2006

I cast my first vote for president for Gerald R. Ford. Granted, I was a 10-year-old 4th grader attending the Edward Walton Elementary School in Springfield, NJ at the time, but my first vote nonetheless. I even have the picture to prove it – there I am with a traditional conventioneer’s hat and shirt that said “vote,” as I cast my ballot – photographed for the Springfield Leader – a local newspaper not unlike one I worked for years later. (I guess I was a hat man even then.)

President Ford, nee Leslie Lynch King, Jr., an Omaha, NE native, had a calming presence in the White House presiding over a number of challenging issues – the end of Vietnam and restoring dignity to the presidency at the very pinnacle of his administration. I had to mention the president’s birth name as I learned this fact from my father, who unfortunately also passed away this year in August.

At a very young age, thanks to my parents, I learned the presidents forward and backward – even being carted out like a circus monkey at parties to demonstrate such precocious talents. (It was enough to drive anyone to drink.) Thus, began my love affair with all things political that continues to this day – which is also enough to make one reach for the bottle.

President Ford died on December 26, ironically on the anniversary of the death of President Harry S Truman (1972), also one of my favorite presidents. How is it, people have asked, that, having served fewer than 900 days, Gerald Ford could be one of my favorite presidents.

Gerald Ford was an every-man – rising up from humble beginnings, graduating from a state school – University of Michigan, playing football for the Wolverines and was even named team MVP his senior year. As a Yale law student, Mr. Ford worked as an assistant football coach to help pay his way.

After serving in the U. S. Navy during World War II, Mr. Ford returned to Michigan, won election to Congress in 1948 and 12 subsequent reelections from his western Michigan district. Congressman Ford rose to the rank of House Minority Leader prior to being tabbed as Vice President by President Richard M. Nixon upon the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” said the newly sworn in President Ford regarding Watergate. President Ford humbly pushed forward with the daunting task of leading a nation that, for the most part, lacked trust in its leadership. President Ford had the wisdom and a sense of clarity to understand the necessity that his presidency required of him to restore dignity to the office he held and to bridge the chasm left in the wake of the Nixon resignation and the next national election.
President Ford had the courage to issue the pardon of his predecessor that sealed his own fate. This was an unnecessary pardon, yet one issued out of necessity as President Ford stood on the precipice of both past and future.

I do not believe the Ford pardon of Nixon was required as the 37th president had not been convicted of anything. I also do not believe, as many do believe, that said pardon spoiled Mr. Ford’s chance of election in 1976. No, no, no – Gerald Ford was politically doomed on August 9, 1974 upon taking the oath of office making him the 38th president of the United States.

Simply by being a Republican, President Ford’s days were numbered. Trailing by 30-plus points following the GOP convention in 1976 after a tumultuous primary campaign against Ronald Reagan, President Ford began the long march back that very nearly resulted in his defeating Jimmy Carter. But Carter won not because he was a better candidate; not because he was a better campaigner, but because he wasn’t a Republican.

The modern conservative movement should be thanking G-d for President Ford. Ronald Reagan could have been the GOP nominee in ’76, lost to Carter and fallen into political obscurity.

History will serve well the man who called his presidency what many understood it to be, “my stewardship,” said Ford during his January 12, 1977 State of the Union address, along with “our Constitution works,” and it is the “bedrock of our freedom.”

President Ford did, in fact, restore dignity to the American Presidency. How he would fare as a moderate in today’s Republican Party is not terribly discernable, but in that final address before the nation, President Ford called for “peace with honor.” “We can remain first in peace only if we are never second in defense.”

To paraphrase American Indian philosophy, Gerald Ford left the presidency better than he found it.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

[This column appeared in the Alexandria Times.]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hunker Down With History Book

Hunker Down With History Book
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 20, 2006

Richard Cohen’s column “Hunker Down With History” should best have been entitled “Hunker Down With History Book,” as the left-leaning editorial writer demonstrated a serious lack of historical context and knowledge.

Suggesting Palestine was “first a colony of Turkey and later of Britain,” dismisses thousands of years of history. Jordan is Palestine. Palestine is Jordan. The land that is Israel, as bestowed by G-d upon Abraham and his descendants, has been the home of the Jewish people for several millennia – surviving attacks and invasions from the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire and others who are also extinct.

That the land of the Jewish people should be called Israel since its independence in 1948 does not diminish its place in history. To suggest that “Israel hunker down,” as Cohen so callously suggests, again demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the enemies of the Jewish state. And to call for such a hunkering contradicts his earlier statement that Hezbollah, “zealots are not amenable to reason.”

To hunker down is akin to suggesting that Israel wait it out or hide until the attacks are over. The attacks will never be over until Hezbollah and Israel’s other enemies achieve their ultimate goal – the destruction of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people. These are the principles of Hezbollah, not as Cohen avers, “hatred of Israel.”

If anyone is unsure of the goals of Israel’s enemies, review the comments of Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who not only is a Holocaust denier but has called for wiping Israel off the map. This is the same Iran currently funding Hezbollah.

Israel is in the right place geographically and on the right side of history – defending its right to simply exist. Richard Cohen is just wrong and should hunker down with a history book. Remember if Israel’s enemies lay down their arms, there can be peace. If Israel lays down its arms, there will be no more Israel.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Alexandria, VA.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hitler Also Won an Election - How Did that Work Out?

Hitler Also Won an Election – How Did That Work Out?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 27, 2006

The terrorist Hamas won an allegedly fair and legal election last Wednesday, January 25 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – land that should never have been ceded to Palestinians in the first place. Make no mistake, the Palestinians have a homeland – it’s called Jordan. Like Iran, Hamas would rejoice over the destruction of the Jewish state. Even after the surrender of the Gaza Strip, terrorism continued.

The Bush administration is reconsidering Palestinian aid as it considers Hamas a terrorist organization. (Former President Jimmy Carter said that such aid should continue.) Even the morally bankrupt Europe calls Hamas a terrorist group. Israel correctly said that to negotiate with a Hamas government would be disingenuous as the virulent anti-Israel Hamas is hell-bent on the “wiping Israel off the map,” as Iran’s leader has repeatedly expressed.

An election does not legitimize a terror state – lest we learn a lesson from Germany. Hitler won election in 1933, gained recognition by governments the world over and he began his reign of terror by rounding up and deporting Jewish citizens. Even after calling for the Nuremberg Laws that expelled Jewish students from schools and Jewish professionals from their careers, Germany still received a free pass from the likes of the spineless British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain by granting the Nazi dictator appeasement in 1938 just one year prior to the advent of World War II.

Israel has a good friend in George W. Bush and an ally in the United States. "I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform… and... if your party has got an armed wing. I made it very clear that the United States does not support political parties that want to destroy our ally, Israel," said President Bush last Thursday following the Hamas victory.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.