Washington Times: 2012 is 1980 — but is Romney Ronald Reagan?

In September 1980, Gallup had President Carter up by 4 percentage points over some former Hollywood actor named Ronald Reagan. The incumbent president and commander in chief had already delivered his catastrophic “crisis of confidence” speech, the economy was imploding — double-digit inflation, a national gas crisis — and there was, as now, an Iran impasse and a bungling foreign policy. Still, the onetime peanut farmer held a solid lead and looked about to win re-election.

Americans, it turned out, just weren’t sure about this Reagan guy. Yes, America was a mess, and the new guy was highly likeable, seemed to talk a good game, but they worried: What do we know about this guy? Is he really ready to be president? And do we really want this man with his finger on the nuclear button?

Skip ahead to 2012. The economy has been imploding for four years, gas prices are double what they were when President Obama took office, inflation is rising and incomes are falling, there’s another Democrat-led bungling foreign policy and, to boot, another Iran crisis. Still, Gallup had the former community organizer and less-than-one-term senator up by 6 points.

Now, as then, Americans just aren’t sure about this Mitt Romney guy. Yes, he talks a good game, seems likeable enough, has a wonderful wife and family, but like Mr. Reagan, America is asking: Who is this guy? Is he really ready to lead? And can he, as he claims, really pull the country out of this malaise and make America that shining city on a hill?

Americans will decide in October, just as they did 22 years ago, when the presidential race changed in just two hours. A look back now to refresh the memory.

By mid-October 1980, Mr. Carter’s Gallup margin had grown to 8 points. He was so comfortably ahead he simply skipped the first presidential debate, leaving Mr. Reagan to battle it out with independent John Anderson. The Republican acquitted himself just fine, but hardly anyone tuned in. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the Washington Generals (what with Mr. Anderson pledging to raise taxes on gasoline to encourage conservation).

(And just a side note: The League of Women Voters, sponsor of the debates, threatened to place an empty chair on the stage to represent the absent president — guess Clint Eastwood was watching.)

Mr. Carter agreed to attend the second debate (the only head-to-head between the two) as long as Mr. Anderson, now dead in the water, was excluded. Mr. Reagan opposed the move but finally gave in; the debate was held just a week before Election Day. Some 80 million people pulled up a chair in front of the TV.

The fireworks began quickly.

The incumbent lambasted the challenger: “Gov. Reagan, as a matter of fact, began his political career campaigning around this nation against Medicare. Now we have an opportunity to move toward national health insurance,” Mr. Carter said.

Mr. Reagan just smiled and shook his head. He didn’t interrupt; he wasn’t angry. When it was his turn to answer, he turned toward Mr. Carter, smiled again, shook his head, and said, “There you go again.” It was a line the former California governor would use again and again, always with a wry grin, a slight shake of the head. He was, of course, calling the president of the United States a liar, but in the nicest way possible. And Americans responded — “Hey, this guy isn’t as bad as I thought.”

The debate covered some weighty ground — the ongoing Iranian hostage crisis (Iran would set the 52 Americans hostage free the very day Mr. Reagan took the oath of office), the economy, nuclear proliferation and arms treaties. And it was the latter Q&A, at the height of the Cold War, that set Americans straight about Mr. Reagan’s ability to be commander in chief.

“I have seen four wars in my lifetime,” Mr. Reagan said. “I’m a father of sons; I have a grandson. I don’t ever want to see another generation of young Americans bleed their lives into sandy beachheads in the Pacific, or rice paddies and jungles in Asia, or the muddy, bloody battlefields of Europe.”

Mr. Carter, 56, looking pale, worn-out and old compared to the vigorous (and heavily makeupped) 69-year-old cowboy at the other podium, then tried to humanize the issue as well.

“I think to close out this discussion,” he said, “it would be better to put into perspective what we’re talking about. I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weaponry — and the control of nuclear arms.”

A nice line, but was the president actually taking counsel from his 12-year-old daughter? In the span of a few minutes, the challenger looked like commander in chief — and Americans knew it. The Republican, berated by a liberal press for months, had slipped past the media and dropped directly into living rooms across the country.

But it was Mr. Reagan’s closer that killed (as an actor and entertainer, he no doubt knew one must always go out on a high note). Looking into the camera, he laid out the simple choice America had:

“Next Tuesday is Election Day. Next Tuesday, all of you will go to the polls and stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision it might be well if you would ask yourself: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions ‘yes,’ why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for.

“If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have,” he said.

Mr. Romney will need to present just such a stark choice for voters in the debates.


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42 Comments Washington Times: 2012 is 1980 — but is Romney Ronald Reagan?

  1. geefo

    Nu pot sa-mi dau seama ce pot vedea romanii (in varsta de cel putin 37 de ani) la Obama. Nu-mi vine sa cred ca a putut fi „montata” o asmenea escrocherie gigantica, precum alegerea lui Obama si oamenii cu ceva mai mult in cap decat ata care tine urechile impreuna sa nu o vada exact ceea ce este.
    @johnny123, dar de manarirea  inregistrarii cu Romney si Ryan a MSNBC ce zici, este gafa sau este o sugere prin batista de cea mai joasa speta? Pe bune, e posibil sa te uiti in gura alora care fac valuri despre o parere a lui Romney obtinuta dintr-o inregistrare obtinuta ilegal, dar care refuza sa faca publica inregistrarea  legala ObamaKhalidi? Mai nou, l-au adus pe gunoierul care ridica (si) gunoiul lui Romney ca sa-si „aduca si el aportul la cauza”. 

    1. DanCanada

       @quaddelta Asta e regurgitare MSM si din pacate asemenea gunoaie sint luate drept stiri.
      Maaarele Obama zice tot ce trebuie, si? Actions speak louder than words. De ex. MSM discuta toate nimicurile in legatura cu Romney (chestia cu 47% care de fapt nici nu e mare brinza) in schimb Obama e tratat cu manusi. De ex. sa afli ca amasadorul in Libia a fost omorit, consulatul distrus/vandalizat si sa te duci ca un bou nesimtit ce esti la un PR electoral in Las Vegas. N-a spus nimic, nu? A! Ba da, a spus „of course we’re sorry for the loss of the 4 americans” 🙂

      1. johnny 123

         @DanCanada  @quaddelta
         Nu e doar regurgitare, a aparut pe toate site-urile de stiri. Oricum, asta cu avionul e funny, n-ar trebui sa il afecteze electoral pe Romney. In schimb tampenia cu 47%, nu o spui nici cand lucrurile ar sta asa. Asta a fost o mega-gafa.

        1. Yeba

           @johnny 123  lucrurile stau cu mult diferit? Nu 47, ci 35? Nu 47, ci 2?
          Că altminteri mi se pare că trăim vremuri interesante, când exprimarea adevărului ajunge să fie considerată gafă cu consecințe planetare.

        2. DanCanada

           @johnny 123  @quaddelta Pai daca e pe toate site-urile de stiri si o repeti si matale aici, nu e regurgitare?
          Si de ce e treaba cu 47% o timpenie? Pentru ca asa spun CNN, MSNBC, Huffpost etc? Da, jobul lui nu e sa-i pese de toti, ce-i asa de extraordinar? Job-ul lu’ Maica Tereza era poate sa-i pese de toata lumea, nu a unui candidat la POTUS. Pentru MSM absolut orice spune Romney e o gafa. Ce spune Obama insa e bun si adevarat 🙂

        3. Bleen

           @DanCanada  @johnny 123  @quaddelta Îmi spunea cineva, nu spui cine, persoană importantă, rezidentă în US, că, fără MSM, democrații n-ar trece de 15%.

        4. johnny 123

          @DanCanada @johnny 123 @quaddelta
          1. N-am zis ca tot ce spune Obama e ok. De fapt n-am zis nimic de Obama.
          2. Chestia cu 47% e o gafa electorala. Nu e treaba lui Romney sa-i pese de toti americanii (desi asta e discutabil), dar e treaba lui sa fie ales. Si, sincer, afirmatia asta nu aduce vreun avantaj unuia care vrea sa atraga alegatorii de centru.
          3. Intre 47, 35 si 2 e o diferenta, macar din punct de vedere matematic. Cel putin intre 50 si 46,2 a fost o „mica” diferenta. Si daca la final Romney pierde la o dif. mica, va regreta treaba cu 47%.
          4. Exista vreo problema de compatibilitte intre Blogary si Android 4.0.3.? M-m chinuit sa postez reply-ul vreo 10 minute.

        5. BarbuMateescu

           @johnny 123  @DanCanada  @johnny  @quaddelta A dat-o în bară cu ceva important, şi anume faptul că oamenii ăştia îl votează exclusiv pe Obama:
          „According to the most recent Gallup polls of registered voters, 37 percent of those making less than $36,000 a year indicate they plan to vote for Romney. (…) According to a Rasmussen Reports poll of likely voters between Sept. 10 and 16, 40 percent of those making less than $20,000 said they plan to vote for Romney; 50 percent of those making between $20,000 and $40,000 said they supported Romney. The Pew Research Center similarly found in its latest poll that 32 percent of those making less than $30,000 and 42 percent of those making between $30,000 and $50,000 support Romney — as do a plurality of seniors.”
          Categoriile de venit menţionate în sondajele astea sunt cele care ar pica în cei 47% de care vorbeşte Romney. Omul ori nu ştie, ori dramatizează.

        6. Canadiana

           @DanCanada  @johnny 123  @quaddelta normal, MSM este detinuta de evrei. in mod traditional, astia sunt democrati. 

        7. Canadiana

           @meioza  @DanCanada  @johnny 123  @quaddelta sigur ca netanyahu il sustine pe romney. obama ii lasa pe toti araboii sa isi faca de cap, dupa care le zice „thank you, sir”.
          cu toate astea, in usa multi americani de origina evreiasca sunt democrati si au votat covarsitor cu roosevelt, truman, kennedy, carter, liebermann. la asta, mai adauga si faptul ca sunt puternic reprezentati in MSM, unii detin coorporatii media (bloomberg), actori, regizori etc. 

        8. geefo

           @johnny 123  @DanCanada  @johnny  @quaddelta 
          Din tot  ceea ce a spus obama nu a fost nimic OK. Lui Romney i se numara dintii in timp ce lui Obama i se trec cu vederea lucruri care in mod normal s-ar fi lasat cu suspendare cel putin.

  2. johnny 123

    Nu sunt nici republican, nici democrat convins (nici mie nu mi-e clar de ce parte a baricadei sunt), dar Romney a facut mai multe greseli, cea cu 47% care voteaza Obama no matter what fiind doar ultima dintre ele. Nu stiu foarte multe amanunte despre cum a fost ales Reagan, dar ma intreb daca si in 1980 candidatul republican a fost atacat de oameni din propriul partid. La fel, am indoieli ca in 1980 vreuna din figurile importante ale republicanilor a tinut la RNC genul de discurs pe care l-a avut anul asta Chris Christie. De prestatia lui lui Clint Eastwood cu aceeasi ocazie, n-are rost sa mai vorbim.
    Sincer, ma intreb daca republicanii chiar vor ca Mitt Romney sa castige.

    1. EroulBula

       @johnny 123 Intrebarea asta mi-am pus-o si eu. Cei doi candidati republicani nu-mi inspira deloc incredere, nici ca aparitie nici ca discurs.
      Si acum 4 ani mi-am pus aceeasi problema: combinatia de mos cu un picior in groapa + mama de hocheisti care credea ca dinozaurii au trait acum 5000 de ani.

  3. DanCanada

    Superb articolul! Pacat ca marea masa a  americanilor nu citeste asa ceva. La citi idioti vad pe Huff Post de exemplu, nu am mari sperante pentru Nov. Pacat! O tara atit de frumoasa cu niste traditii la care orice tara tinjeste, sa se duca de ripa. Pentru ca nu cred ca America isi va mai putea reveni dupa inca 4 ani de Obama.

  4. Dragos

    nu. Romney a comis’o rau de tot cand s-a lasat inregistrat spunand ca votantii lui Obama sunt ciori lenese nespalate asistate social. echivaleaza cu balaceala lui Geoana in SPA-ul lui SOV.

    1. Nea

      @Dragos Da, a greşit. Nu sunt doar ciori lenese nespalate asistate social. Sunt şi porumbei leneşi şi asistaţi social.

  5. BarbuMateescu

    Florida şi nordul (Minnesota-Wisconsin-Michigan) sunt pe muchie şi decid tot. În statele astea sunt 85 de electori. Sunt cei decisivi. Restul SUA e deja „alocat” sau sunt state pe muchie care sunt foarte, foarte mici.

    1. Canadiana

       @BarbuMateescu problema cu michigan sta cam asa: procentaj mare de populatie de culoare, deci pro-obama. muti dependenti de ajutor social etc. in acelasi timp,  democratii nu au facut nimic pentru industria de automobile predominanta in stat si care realmente isi taraie zilele. s-ar putea ca, pe acest fundal, lumea sa doreasca o schimbare. eu una, ma ingrozesc la perspectiva a inca 4 ani de conducere democrata. 

        1. Canadiana

           @Pataphyl  @supastaru  @BarbuMateescu  imi place linkul lui @Pataphyl . fac si eu ca michael moore: ma uit numai la datele care imi convin mie. 

        2. BarbuMateescu

           @supastaru  @Canadiana  @Pataphyl M-am uitat. La motivaţie/explicaţii, e ca la noi:
          1. Se vor fura alegerile, şi sondajele favorabile lui Obama o să ascundă asta.
          2. Oamenii renunţă să mai voteze cu cel care ar pierde conform sondajelor.
          Punctul 2. mă distrează ori de câte ori îl aud, în România sau în afară. Pentru că dacă ai votanţi atât de manipulabili şi care au o susţinere atât de slabă pentru tine că sondajele le schimbă punctul de vedere şi îi fac să nu mai voteze… meriţi să pierzi.
          Vorbind serios, site-ul e de urmărit. Mi se pare a fi o operaţiune de „Sus inima” pentru activiştii republicani care sunt amărâţi de sondajul X sau Y. Dar poate fi ceva acolo. Nu există niciodată certitudini.


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