The myth of the incumbent President: a look back at the Reagan/Carter race.
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This, said Jordan — correctly — was no longer true. In particular, in terms of a fall re-election campaign television and the performance of the President were now considerable concerns.
Citing the difference between the 1976 campaign when Carter was an ex-Georgia Governor running a guerilla campaign against first the Democrat Establishment and finally the GOP Establishment, by 1980 Carter was the sitting president. Now he commanded a veritable political army filled with professionals. And as the incumbent president, Jordan said, President Jimmy Carter faced a very central, very serious problem that ex-Governor Carter did not have. The problem for Carter and his team?
We will be re-elected or not re-elected based largely on your performance as President.
To understand what was really meant by Jordan when he used the phrase “performance as President” he wasn’t simply talking about the obvious: the economy or foreign policy. No, what was very much included in the term “performance” was the 1980 version of that old saying famously attributed to FDR’s longtime aide and strategist Harry Hopkins:
We will tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.
Carter and his liberal administration were, in 1980, the lineal descendants of FDR and his staff. They knew exactly what Harry Hopkins meant, and they went about the “spend and spend” part of their task with a vengeance, using every taxpayer dime available to curry favor for Jimmy Carter’s performance. Here are but a few examples:
• September, 1979 — $1.1 billion in loan guarantees to an electric cooperative in the key state of Florida
• September, 1979 — $19.9 billion to Dade County (Miami) for public housing
• September, 1979 — $6 million to Tampa for public housing
• September, 1979 — $4 million each for public housing in Polk, Orange and Hillsborough Counties.
All of this on top of $31 million for elderly housing projects throughout Florida, a grant for hurricane aid, another grant for Miami tourism. And so on, and on.
All for one purpose: carrying the state of Florida if there were a nomination challenge, and carrying the state in the fall election against whoever was the GOP nominee.
And so it went as hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars surged into places like the primary states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts (to keep Kennedy off-base on his home turf). There was money — $2 billion! — targeted for “disadvantaged youth” (read: the black community); a cut in price supports was abandoned to please Wisconsin dairy farmers; for the key state of New York it rained hospital support in Brooklyn, an Urban Development Grant for a new building for the American Stock Exchange in Manhattan. Harlem’s Congressman Charlie Rangel got a promise to build a new World Trade Center in Harlem.
If you were a Democrat and decided to go with Teddy? Chicago’s Mayor Jane Byrne learned the hard way. The Carter Secretary of Transportation suddenly announced that the Carter Administration had lost “confidence” in the Mayor — and federal funds already scheduled to expand O’Hare airport would have to go elsewhere.
This was hardball. It worked against Ted Kennedy, who on the day of his announcement of candidacy was presumed to be in a position to not only clean Carter’s clock but trounce any GOP nominee as well. By August of 1980, an embittered Kennedy appeared as the loser on the podium of the Democrats’ national convention.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?