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To The Editor:

Long Island University Professor Jose Sanchez in responding to Shavana Abruzzo (“A Britisher’s View”) points that presidents don’t necessarily yield to blood ties. There is just as much a case that they have.

Mary Todd Lincoln was first cousin to Vice President John Breckinridge who received the second largest amount of votes in the 1860 election. Had Lincoln not been assassinated our 16th president would have taken the same stand as his successor, Andrew Johnson, of clemency toward the South and should be treated “like misguided brothers.”

Three of Mary Todd’s relatives fought for the Confederacy and John Breckinridge was both Secretary of War and a general under Confederacy President Jefferson Davis.

It was Woodrow Wilson, who had been reluctant to appoint Joe Tumilty, who was secretary to Governor Wilson to appoint Tumilty secretary to the President.

Ellen Saxon, Wilson’s first First Lady loved Joe Tumilty like a son. Wilson was hesitant and felt it was too much for Tumilty as he was 32 years of age, which is equivalent today to being chief of staff.

Woodrow Wilson wanted to appoint Tumilty budget director. The first Mrs. Wilson pleaded for Joe Tumilty, and Woodrow Wilson yielded.

Wilson’s second wife, Edith Bolling Galt, had contempt for Tumilty and regarded Mr. Tumilty as a “cheap political hack” and while Tumilty served another four years after 1916, Mrs. Wilson ruptured the relationship between the president and his secretary.

There is also a case when Wilson was incapacitated by a debilitating stroke which he suffered in Pueblo, Colorado, October 19, 1919, while stumping for US entry into the League of Nations. There is much suspicion that can never be fully eradicated that the second Mrs. Wilson forged her husband’s signature to congressional bills and other White House documents.

It should further be noted that if not for Betty Ford, President Ford might have been more hesitant to pardon his predecessor Richard Nixon. Betty Ford favored executive clemency for Gerry Ford’s predecessor.

It should also be remembered that during the 1975 fiscal crisis, Ford had come out against any bailout plan for New York City. In fact, Gerry Ford told the then Mayor Beame, what’s so bad if New York City defaults? Grand Rapids Michigan defaulted and was in better shape than ever during the 1930’s depression.

It was Betty Ford who met with Abe Beame and while Mrs. Ford was neither an elected official nor a CPA, Gerry Ford listened to her more respectfully than to Abe Beame who was the mayor.

Betty Ford was not only Fist Lady of America but “First Conscience of America.” She guided her husband right even though it would be regarded as left of center.

Elliot Abosh

Brighton Beach

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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