Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It Was Carter

So many people have accused me of wanting to pull the Democrat Party apart by encouraging Hillary to stay in the race that I feel I must answer this accusation. These people say that the 1980 model that I cite spell disaster for the party. They say that by staying in the race and bringing it to the convention Teddy Kennedy essentially cost Carter the 1980 election.
It was Kennedy, they say, who defeated Carter.
I disagree.
It was Carter who defeated Carter.
Note that in my article I referred to Carter's time in office as a "failed presidency."
Carter was a failure and he set himself up for defeat. Then the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan came along and finished the job.
The election was held on November 4, 1980. Ronald Reagan beat Carter by almost ten percentage points in the popular vote. Republicans also gained control of the Senate for the first time in twenty-five years on Reagan's coattails. The electoral college vote was a landslide, with 489 votes (representing 44 states) for Reagan and 49 votes for Carter (representing 6 states and the District of Columbia).
Look at the 1980 map, above.
Teddy Kennedy didn't do that. Carter set it up and Reagan finished the job.


Anonymous said...

In the Daily News, you decried the "quick smile and a catch phrase." That sounds like Reagan, another national embarrassment.

George said...

The other similarity to 1980 is the way the race for the party nominations have unfolded. Reagan and Bush ran a contentious race against each other that year. Reagan was the charismatic choice with "change" as his battlecry, while Bush represented the more moderate approach to change with a very milquetoast affect. After it became clear that Reagan would win the nomination, Reagan was forced to put Bush, whom he disliked, on the ticket because of Bush's impressive showing in key general election states.

We are seeing a reprise of this story in 2008 with Obama and Clinton.

chuckmineo said...

"Think Just A Little Bit Harder Now"

If only politics and politicians were as black and white and fully transparent as many Republicans perceive. Let's start with the accepted belief that Jimmy Carter's was nothing but a failed presidency. Presumably the absolute proof of this fact is that he was soundly, roundly and badly beaten in his second term election by the Great Communicator (note that he was not referred to as the great thinker). Walter Cronkite was a great communicator as well.

Putting Carter aside, what president would have stood a snowball's chance in hell after the withering effects of the Arab oil embargos and a year long (nightly featured) hostage crisis. Is it possible that the oil embargo was payback from the Arab states for Carter's negotiation of the only major peace accord of the past 30 years? Peace between the arch enemies Israel and Egypt? A peace so hated by some of their own countrymen that they assasinated their only president for going along? Can you imagine "W" possibly pulling this off today? In order to have a chance at making peace, the central figure in the peacemaking effort must be respected and trusted by both sides. And, he must have the mental capacity to negotiate skillfully and fairly to avoid alienating either side. Establishing a lasting peace between two hostile nations is hardly a failure. It is, in fact, a very skillful, monumental achievement. But, it seems that some in our country value victory at war (or their concept of war) over making peace. War is easy (especially when you have all the best weapons on your side). And, you see the immediate results of war. (Something by the way that the finest in our land despised - Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, even General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower). Read what they had to say about the application and necessity of war and you may rethink how we choose to use our firepower. The road to peace is hard and takes much greater skill. Whatever you may believe, this is a clear fact.

We also credit Reagan with achieving a peace of sorts by helping to bringing about the fall of the communist Soviet Union. However, in the process, we fail to credit the bravest and brighest man in the whole process, the one with the most to lose, and that would have been Gorbachev. With glasnost (if he wanted to hold onto power what was he thinking?) and his overtures to the west, Gorbachev knew he was sounding the end of his own political career in the former USSR, but he was brave and selfless enough to do what he thought was best for the future of his country. If there had been a less enlightened and more selfish man as leader of the USSR you would not have seen the Berlin wall being torn down. P.S. - When Ronald Reagan said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall, he already knew from Mr. Gorbachev, himself, that he was willing and wanted the same result. I love the "after the fact" characterization of events though. It was not a complicit Gorbachev that helped to bring about the result. No, he wasn't in favor of this outcome at all, it was instead that we were outspending the Soviets militarily and they knew they couldn't keep up. It's obvious. They simply surrendered under the weight of Star Wars. Yes, that makes perfectly good sense. And, besides, the political spinners already told us it was true, so let's not bother ourselves by trying to out think them.

Well, let's apply that same rationale to some really third rate nation states around the world. Our military spending and military might haven't exactly frightened the Iranians or North Koreans into doing anything we've asked. Unlike our considerably softer stance with the former USSR, in the case of the Koreans and Iranians, we've even suggested through the toughest and bravest of our politicians that we'd go the further step to "nuke 'em" if necessary. What gives here? Even by upping the ante, they still don't succumb to the we have outspent you militarily pressures. That's funny. It worked like a charm before with an even bigger and badder enemy. At least that's how the storyline goes. And, the wreck that is North Korea's economy makes the former USSR look like an economic dynamo. They should have given in to us a long time ago. The only problem is that they have a leader who is not willing to open the floodgates of free thinking the way that Gorbachev was.

At least the US can always take the high road in these situations as the defender of human rights. I wonder how that human rights thing ever worked its way into our international policies. Oh yeah, it was that failure of a President, Jimmy Carter, who was criticized at the time for making human rights the centerpiece of our foreign policy. Unthinkable. How could we then turn our backs on torture, a little military crowd control and like (some of the dirty necessities of government) if we were to tether our national ship to the human rights banner? What about realpolitik?

Danny, it seems to me that, for whatever reason, you took a fateful turn in 1980 and haven't been able to open your eyes or your mind since. You have been far too satisfied with that decision you made and, in your satifaction, you have chosen to direct your critical thinking to the wrong places. Let's be diligent in our criticisms of Barrack Hussein Obama. Yes, he has a Muslim sounding name (sympathizer?), he's a bad bowler, and his pastor says some crazy things about how blacks have been treated in this country (where is he coming from with these crazy ideas?)

So what do you do this time around for President? Do you vote for a continuation of the war (I mean occupation) in Iraq? Do you vote for laissez faire health care and economics so that we can stay on our shining path to prosperity? Or, do you go with the silver-tongued, rhetoric slinging, inexperienced newcomer, fast-talker? This is how he will be characterized by the best and brightest politicos on the right, isn't it? But, just remember, you can't have a silver tongue without a fertile mind behind it. And, we have never had a president who could be a leader, let alone an inspirational one, if he did not possess that gift of oratory. It is not something to be derided. It is an established and important characteristic of leadership, current case in point our stumble tongued, bumble-brained leader of the free world. Unfortunately, under his leadership, our definition of the free world has now shrunk to the good old USA, since nobody else will follow our lead anymore. Those bunch of ungrateful fools. Come to think of it, let me take to the streets once again, like a good patriot, with my bottles of expendable French wine. That will make me feel a whole lot better.

Anonymous said...

Great chart. Just goes to show the people from West Virginia typically aren't smart enough to cast their vote correctly. Bad news for Hillary.