Back In The 1980 Presidential Election


By David Beilstein

VICTORY DAVIS HANSON over at National Review wrote a column linking, again, the connection between the 2012 election and the 1980 presidential election more than 30 years ago.

In setting the tone, for those who did not pay attention to the Carter-Reagan election day-by-day, hence, tend to venerate how successful Reagan campaigned, Hanson makes several key points.

Carter conceded that he could not run on his economic record — not with a high “misery index’ driven by high inflation, high interest rates, high gas prices, and high unemployment. The lengthy Iranian hostage crisis finally began to highlight rather than mask Carter’s anemic domestic leadership. Without a record to defend, Carter instead pounded Reagan as too ill informed and too dangerous to be president. The negative campaigning had not only worked but also seemed to get under Reagan’s skin. He kept going off topic while committing serial gaffes: He claimed that California had eliminated its smog, that trees polluted as much as cars, that Alaska had more known oil than Saudi Arabia, and that new evidence cast doubt upon Darwin’s theory of evolution. Reagan got clumsily bogged down in distracting controversies about everything from Taiwan and the Vietnam War to the Ku Klux Klan and the stealth-bomber program.”

In other words, Ronald Reagan, too, made mistakes ala Mitt Romney. But Hanson’s point does underline the idea a terrible incumbent record is not all the American people need to replace their president. Mitt Romney has to do more, in basic English.

Hanson adds,

Reagan fumbled facts and numbers constantly, as the nitpicking Carter blasted him for implausibly promising lower taxes, balanced budgets, and vastly higher defense spending all at once. Throughout late summer, Reagan could not tap widespread voter dissatisfaction with Carter’s disastrous economic and foreign policy and his off-putting sanctimoniousness.”

It is true Mitt Romney needs to connect his policy plans with middle-class concerns, and, the viscid Republican candidate needs to connect President Obama’s record in a causal relationship to bad economic performance—affecting, immensely, the plight of the middle-class.

But it is also true that Romney, so far, is not underperforming—radically—comparatively to Ronald Reagan. This view, also, realises Hanson’s point that the upcoming presidential debates beginning next week, will be better lenses to perceive whether Romney is slowly, albeit surely, winning this election, or whether he is being torn apart by the aerodynamic slip-stream of presidential politics.


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