Tag Archives: Gerald Ford

Another hero has departed

A former U.S. senator, presidential and vice-presidential candidate, and World War II hero has left us and the world he leaves behind should mourn its loss forever.

I refer to Robert Dole, the one-time senator from Kansas.

Oh, my. He was a Republican tough guy who emerged from the crucible of world conflict to become eventually a statesman and a man who built solid relationships and friendships across the vast span of the political spectrum.

To be candid about Dole, he leaves behind a complicated legacy.

He was wounded grievously near the end of World War II. He lost the use of his right arm. He rehabilitated himself after the war ended. Dole would run eventually for Congress, ending up in the Senate.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford selected him to run as vice president as Ford sought election to the presidency. During a vice-presidential debate with his friend Sen. Walter Mondale, Dole blurted out a remark about how the nation had suffered during “Democrat wars,” saying that Democratic presidents were on the watch when World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War all broke out. It was an unfortunate analogy to make.

He snarled at Vice President George H.W. Bush on national TV — against whom he was competing for the 1988 GOP nomination for president — telling Bush to “stop lying about my record.”

Over time, though, Dole’s image softened. He morphed into an elder statesman, an individual to whom other politicians — of both parties — turned for advice and counsel. His good humor replaced the occasionally tart tenor of his comments.

He ran for president in 1996 as the GOP nominee, challenging President Clinton’s re-election effort. I did not vote for Dole. However, I want to stipulate in the strongest terms possible that I never lost my abiding respect for the service and sacrifice he gave to the country we all love.

His brand of politician, I hate saying, is vanishing before our eyes.

May this good and heroic man rest in eternal peace.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Optimism put to test

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Those of you who know me best will understand that I am an eternal optimist. I tend to see the best in people; too often, I admit that they let me down.

My wife tends to look more skeptically at individuals she meets for the first time, which is smart in that it saves her the grief of dealing with disappointment.

My optimism extends also to the state and strength of our nation, which I admit fully and freely is undergoing many stresses that threaten its very fabric.

The pandemic continues to ravage our population. We are ending a war in Afghanistan and are watching the bad guys seize the government they once ran. We have a former president of the United States whose cult following continues to wreak havoc on our democratic processes.

Will any of these factors individually doom our nation? Will they do so collectively? Can we stop any of these things from reaching critical mass? Can we stop them all?

No and yes to the first and second set of questions. At least that is how I see it.

Our framers crafted a government built to withstand these challenges. They sought to create “a more perfect Union.” They knew better than to seek absolute perfection. They knew the nation under construction in the 18th century would be an ongoing work in progress likely for as long as the republic existed.

I am going to retain my optimism even as we struggle with these battles. Indeed, any concession to the worst-case scenarios out there would consign me to a level of anxiety that I am not sure I could handle.

So, perhaps my optimism is a self-defense strategy. Whatever. I’ll maintain it until the bottom falls out and rely on the wisdom that President Ford offered when he took office at the end of an earlier monumental crisis.

He told us: “Our Constitution works.”

Here comes the POTUS ‘meme’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Wait for it, everyone.

President Biden was running up the stairs to step aboard Air Force One when he stumbled a bit. Then he did it twice more.

Did the president fall on his face? Did he topple onto the steps? No. He didn’t. He got up. Walked the rest of the way. Stood for a moment at the door and snapped a salute to the military honor guard that awaited him. Then he walked into the massive jet and flew off to Atlanta, where he offered words of comfort and support to a community shaken by the massacre that killed eight people.

What, then, awaits us? It’ll be the endless string of social media memes that poke fun at the president.

Hey, I am commenting on it with this blog post, which I suppose tells you that it kind of interests me, too.

I just don’t want to see President Biden lampooned the way, uh, President Ford was many decades ago because he took a nasty fall while descending the steps of Air Force One.

It’s yet another sign of the times. Mr. President, get used to it.

Constitution still works

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Over the life of this blog I have occasionally invoked the words of someone I consider to be one of the 20th century’s more underrated statesmen.

President Gerald Ford took office on Aug. 9, 1974 at the end of what at the time was thought to be the nation’s worst constitutional crisis. President Richard Nixon had resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal and coverup.

President Ford took his oath of office and declared, “Our Constitution works.” Yes! It most certainly did then. It does now.

We are watching another crisis unfold before our eyes. I am going to stand foursquare behind the nobility of our nation’s founding governing document. It is working now. It will see us through this horrifying mess.

Donald Trump is 11 days from exiting the presidency. He incited a riot this week that could have resulted in the destruction of our democratic form of government. Five people died in the melee on Capitol Hill, which is where Congress was gathering in real time to perform a constitutional duty: ratification of the Electoral College vote that declared Joe Biden and Kamala Harris president and vice president of the United States.

Trump would not accept the voters’ verdict. He egged on the mob gathered before him to in effect storm the Capitol and stop the ratification. The rioters ransacked the Capitol Building. They occupied offices. They pranced through the Senate and House chambers while our elected representatives were holed up in safe places to avoid being harmed by the insurrectionists. Five people, including a D.C. police officer, died in the mayhem.

Our Constitution will work yet again. The House is considering whether to impeach Donald Trump once again. Pressure is mounting on the Cabinet and Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of a president who is incapable of doing his job.

Donald Trump is incapable of doing a job for which he is patently and demonstrably unfit.

And in just 11 days, Donald Trump — one way or another — will be gone from that office. President Biden and Vice President Harris will take over. The task of rebuilding and repairing our government will commence. It will take time and patience to restore order to this government of ours, which is both fragile and sturdy all at once.

President Ford stated it with profound wisdom in that earlier dark time in our history.

Our Constitution works.

Democracy: big winner of 2020 election

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s set aside — if we can — the idiotic challenges that Donald Trump continues to mount against our electoral system.

I want to declare that the big winner of the 2020 election was none other than democracy itself. I continue to watch the straggler votes being counted and am utterly amazed at the huge numbers being rung up by the vote counters.

Nationally, more than 157 million ballots were cast. President-elect Joe Biden captured 51.2 percent of them; Donald Trump collected 46.9 percent. Biden’s vote total is nearly 81 million ballots; Trump has collected more than 74 million. Trump can claim some sort of “moral” victory (although “moral” is a word I usually do not associate with Trump) in knowing he has the second-greatest vote total in U.S. history.

Why are these numbers so staggering? Because they came while the nation is suffering through a massive pandemic that has killed more than 270,000 Americans.

Politicians urged us to vote. The call came mostly from Democrats who wanted to ensure that Americans used their constitutional right. They encouraged us to vote early if possible. My wife and I voted on the first day of early voting in Texas. We were glad to do so.

Democracy came out the big winner. Our democratic process has survived. I am confident it will survive this farcical attempt by Trump to overturn the clear and decisive result that we all delivered on Election Day. It might take some time for democracy to recover from the wounds that Trump has inflicted by sowing all this doubt into the integrity of our democratic system … but it will. Of that I am supremely confident.

President Ford told us on the day he took office that “our Constitution works.” It has shown us yet again — in the midst of a deadly pandemic — that it remains resilient, sturdy and strong.

Would he dare skip the inaugural?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Given that Donald Trump has exhibited a seemingly bottomless pit of boorishness, I cannot get the following thought out of my mind.

Just suppose Joe Biden is elected the nation’s 46th president. Is it possible that the 45th president would skip the inaugural in a demonstration of maximum pique and petulance?

Trump keeps yammering about a “rigged election” in the event of a Biden victory. I cannot stop thinking about whether he truly believes it and whether he would be act on that belief by not showing up for the ceremonial transfer of power from one president to the next.

I mean, the Constitution doesn’t require the outgoing president to sit there and listen to the new one offer a grand vision of what he intends to do.

Moreover, it wouldn’t be an unprecedented act. President John Quincy Adams didn’t attend the inaugural for the man who beat him, President Andrew Jackson. But geez, that was in 1829! It was a bitter campaign and I guess Adams never got over the mean things Jackson said about him.

Other campaigns have produced plenty of bitterness. I recall the 1977 inaugural of President Carter, who in his opening remarks to the crowd, thanked President Ford for all he had done to “heal our land” after Watergate. That was a tough race, too. The men became fast friends for the remainder of President Ford’s life.

Donald Trump, though, harbors the deepest, meanest, most authentic sense of personal animus of anyone I’ve ever witnessed.

I will not predict such a thing from occurring, but merely am saying that should Joe Biden become President Biden, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness the ceremony occurring without Donald Trump anywhere to be seen … or (thankfully) heard.

Concern over Trump turns to fear

My concern over the horrifying possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected to a second term as president of the United States is giving way to outright dread.

I fear for the country. And for the system of government that the Nitwit in Chief has co-opted.

Having been impeached by the House of Representatives and then having been acquitted by the Senate in a sham trial, Trump already has wielded some of the ill-gotten political capital he was able acquire. Trump continues to issue executive orders doing away with regulations approved during the Obama administration. He continues to bully his foes and continues to threaten to do things that flout constitutional norms.

So then the question for me becomes: What will this idiot do during a second term? There can be no way to predict anything when it involves this clown.

Consider his reaction to the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis and the uproar it has produced in cities all across the land. What will happen if the demonstrations continue? What might the Control Freak in Chief do if he deems that all those protests — even those of the peaceful variety — are more than he can bear to witness?

The bullsh** he touts about sending in “heavily armed” troops to quell protests is scary in the extreme. How many more general grade officers will stride down the path blazed by former Defense Secretary James Mattis, or former White House chief of staff John Kelly, or former Special Operations Commander Admiral William McRaven? They all have told us how they fear what Donald Trump will do, how he seeks actively to divide the nation, how he ignores constitutional principles.

I long have held out hope that our Constitution would protect us from presidential predilections. Gerald Ford told us in August 1974 that “our Constitution works” as he assumed the presidency in a time of dire peril for the nation. I was a young whipper-snapper then, full of political piss and vinegar. The trial and turmoil we’re experiencing these days seems different to me now that I am so much older.

However, I am clinging to the hope that the Constitution that worked so well during that earlier crisis will continue to do its job … even as the current presidential fraud seeks to inflict grievous damage.

It is a frightening spectacle to watch. Oh, how I want this upcoming election to produce the desired result.

The ‘carnage,’ Mr. POTUS?

Presidential inaugurals often produce  signature lines.

Franklin Roosevelt told us the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”; John F. Kennedy implored the nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”;  Gerald R. Ford — the nation’s only unelected president — told us “our long national nightmare is over.”

Donald John Trump’s signature line? “The American carnage stops right now.”

Well, dude, it hasn’t stopped. Yeah, he was referring to crime … but that hasn’t abated, either. The new “American carnage” came to us via the coronavirus pandemic. OK, he didn’t cause it. His dawdling, dithering and delay in acting initially to it has resulted in tens of thousands of more deaths than it otherwise might have produced had the president acted decisively at the front end of the pandemic.

But he didn’t.

Thus, the American carnage he vowed to stop only has worsened on his watch.

The pandemic continues to rampage across the land. It is producing greater rates of infection and death in many communities, all while the president continues to push state and local governments to speed up the reopening of the economy that has stalled because of the pandemic.

It ain’t working, Mr. President. I will just chalk this “American carnage will end” pledge to be another broken promise.

‘Our Constitution works’

I am fond of recalling the words of a brand new president who took office in the wake of a dark time in American history.

Gerald Rudolph Ford placed his hand on a Bible, recited the presidential oath of office, then stood before the world to declare that “our Constitution works.” He succeeded Richard Nixon, who quit earlier that day to avoid being impeached. The Watergate scandal brought down the Nixon presidency.

Yes, the Constitution worked just as it should during that time.

It is working now as another president faces the unforgiving assurance that every morning he awakes for the rest of his life, he will be an “impeached president.”

Yes, the Constitution works, just as President Ford declared on Aug. 9, 1974.

No matter the outcome of the Senate trial that is pending, the Constitution will have done its job. If the president is cleared, it will have worked. If he is convicted and removed from office, it will have performed as the framers constructed it.

Almost no one believes the current president will be kicked out of office. A failure to convict him doesn’t mean failure for the Constitution. It means only, to my mind, that an insufficient number of senators were willing to put duty to the nation ahead of fealty to a president. That doesn’t besmirch the Constitution, under which the House impeached Donald Trump and the Senate conducted its trial.

It is good at times like this to take a step back and look at the big picture. The framers crafted a brilliant governing document. It’s a bit clunky at times, but that’s the nature of a representative democracy, which is as Winston Churchill described it: a lousy form of government, but better than anything else ever produced by human beings.

My faith in the system remains as strong as ever, regardless of the outcome that more than likely awaits the nation at the end of this process.

I shall cherish the words that President Ford spoke moments after assuming the nation’s highest office: Our Constitution works.

Remember ‘Tan Suitgate’?

Wow! I actually am longing for the days when some folks got all riled up over the color of the suit the president might wear while talking in the White House press briefing room.

It was a bit more than five years ago when President Obama showed up wearing the tan suit. Remember that one? Why, you woulda thought the world had been swallowed into a black hole, that the president of the United States had gone batty, that hell had frozen over and that the Martians had landed … for real this time!

According to Yahoo.com: In addition to being generally panned by fashion experts, Obama’s light-hued look, worn to a White House briefing, scandalized cable news pundits. Lou Dobbs called it “shocking,” while Republican congressman Peter King said it represented POTUS’s “lack of seriousness” in the wake of recent ISIS attacks.

Hey, does anyone remember the plaid suit that President Ford wore on occasion? I think the president was stylin’ back in the 1970s. Imagine any president today appearing that getup.

Well, we’ve progressed — or perhaps regressed — to bigger scandals these days. The sharply dressed president of the moment, Donald J. Trump, is accused of impeachable offenses and is awaiting, along with many of the rest of us, the moment he becomes the third president impeached by the House of Representatives.

But what the heck. He wouldn’t be caught dead in a tan suit.