Patterico's Pontifications


Don’t know much about 1980?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 2:26 pm

[Posted by Karl]

I probably should be finding some hot-button topic to blog, but my attention keeps drifting to what Erick Erickson calls his “Matt Lewis inspired ‘get off my lawn’ screed” about young pundits having no sense of history.  RTWT for some skewering of Juicebox Mafioso Matt Yglesias and others.  However, I would not limit the point to young pundits.  Older pundits and journos tend to have their own historical gaps and convenient memories, especially when it furthers their storylines (likely for reasons both ideological and dramatic).  Indeed, this — and the similar tendency to discount the economic fundamentals, campaign organization, campaign rules and calendars, etc.,  for similar reasons — is one of my motivations to blog in the first instance.

So I want to nitpick a later part of Erickson’s piece:

A few weeks ago I talked to a young conservative pundit who will go nameless (no offense for bringing this back up) who mouthed off the standard pablum that Ronald Reagain in 1980 was a shoo-in, everyone knew he would be the nominee, and it was nothing like this year’s primary. He did not know that there was an effort to get Gerald Ford to run in 1980. He did not know that Republican leaders in Washington pushed George H. W. Bush aggressively as a way to stop Reagan. He did not even know that John Anderson had been a Republican before bolting to run as an independent.

Mostly true, but not entirely accurate.  It is true that some in the GOP apparat urged Ford to run in 1980 — but after he declined, Reagan was the consensus choice of Republican voters.  Reagan collected almost 60% of the votes leading to his nomination.  He narrowly lost Iowa because he did not campaign there.  He then lost Puerto Rico, which people cared about then about as much as they care about it now.  In New Hampshire, Reagan collected as many votes as his six rivals combined.  On March 10, 1980,  TIME would report (in language familiar and yet Bizarro to anyone watching recent campaigns):

There is always a chance that the many Republicans who consider Reagan too conservative and simply too old to win the presidency will coalesce behind an alternative candidate. That could be Bush, Senate minority Leader Howard Baker, 54, or even ex-President Gerald Ford, 66, who appears sorely tempted to enter the race in an attempt to head off Reagan, his old nemesis from 1976. [Wishful thinking from the Left hasn’t changed much, has it? -K]

But Reagan at least deflated the balloon of Bush, his highest-flying early challenger…

Indeed he did.  Bush would go on to win in Massachusetts (narrowly), Connecticut (a Bush home), Pennsylvania, DC, Michigan and Maine (another Bush home).  The combined NotRomney vote — assuming it all went against Reagan — would have added only Vermont, Wisconsin, and Maryland.  Most of Reagan’s wins were in that overwhelming New Hampshire fashion.  In 1980, despite the liberal distaste for Reagan in both parties, he was indeed a shoo-in for the nomination.

To his credit, Erickson acknowledges he is guilty as any pundit when it comes to making mistakes.  But he ought to work extra-hard to avoid them when delivering the “get off my lawn” message.


28 Responses to “Don’t know much about 1980?”

  1. Ding!

    Karl (b2d339)

  2. It wasn’t that easy for Reagan. Besides the starting issue of “is he electable?”, his first Republican debate outing was a disaster — he seemed tired and, well, OLD. Apparently he had not listened to his advisers and spent the day campaigning where they wanted him to reset and bone up.

    A general election debate also went poorly as Reagan’s advisers tried to make him master of petty facts to compete with petty master of facts Carter. I think that the “let Reagan be Reagan” quote comes out of that. Needless to say, Reagan trying to quote statistics in depth was like a fish out of water. Luckily he reverted to form in the rest of the debates.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  3. OTOH, by the time the primaries actually started, it was Reagan vs Bush for the nomination, which lead to the famous New Hampshire two-man debate where Reagan tried to change the rules and let other candidates participate. During that discussion someone turned off Reagan’s microphone, and he bellowed loud enough for all to hear “Mr Green, I PAID for that microphone”, which was pretty much the Republican response to Democrat policy. It sucked to be GHWB that day.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  4. rest, not reset in #2. Now, Romney they reset.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  5. daughters and the sons
    we are the sons of no one
    the Bastards of Young

    Colonel Haiku (6794cb)

  6. Ah, 1980 primaries. I was but a wee lad, a junior in high school. For some reason Vermont was in play, so I played with the HS jazz band at a reception for Reagan, I tried to play a frozen-solid saxophone for GHWB in an airplane hangar, and the rest of the R crowd left us alone. We never got a call to appear at a D event (back in 1980 VT was still decidedly a Red State).

    ISTR my youthful idiocy (’twas but 16 at the time) had me campaigning for John Anderson in the general.

    Captain Ned (60bf84)

  7. My uncle, Lion, artillery Captain in WWII, Bronze Star was shocked to find his hippie nephew was vociferously pro-Reagan.

    Four years of bunny bane.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  8. Miracle on Ice.
    1980 Olympic Hockey Team.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  9. In 1980 I believe I had some Ronnie Ray-gun T-shirts to wear outside of work. Reagan on a horse like Don Quixote, with some sci fi type lance and a mushroom cloud in the distance instead of a windmill. Annoyed the libs to no end.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  10. How often has Erickson been correct in his prognostications and his predictions of the direction and campaign trends this past year? More often wrong than not and usually well off the mark, from what I’ve seen.

    Colonel Haiku (6794cb)

  11. during the 1980 campaign – ” A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
    One of the best statements ever.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  12. 1980… working my engineering job and – in my off hours – working security for Devo during the SoCal leg of their “Freedom of Choice” tour.

    And voting for Mr. Reagan.

    Colonel Haiku (6794cb)

  13. After losing a land battle with the left in 1978. Mr. Reagan has always been my favorite vote of all time.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  14. 11, 13. My favorite votes too. Along with a couple for William Proxmire, whose hand I shook twice, and Michele Bachmann, the only really positive ones. Sensenbrenner was my Rep. for a few turns and that was Ok.

    When folks can’t even speak conservative, let alone distill the message like the ‘Great Communicator’, I’m way too old and crusty to be asked to vote for them.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  15. I’m sort of over Reagan. He was a nice little president and all but he never faced anything remotely comparable to the nightmarish and unsustainable fiasco our obama-raped little country has become.

    But I do think we tend to be best-served when we pick competent governors who’ve won reelection in their state.

    Providing they can make sentences out of words in common usage.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  16. “I’m sort of over Reagan” Not me, man, I would take 8 more years of Mr. Reagan, any day. He would tell the unions to jam it. And get the can-do attitude back in this country.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  17. well yeah but he’s not available so it’s time to move on cause he’s never coming back

    we have to go to war with the army we have, and that is one Mittens Q. Romneykins

    If elected, Mr. President Mitt be sorely tested by our little country’s plight I think, but should he have but a quarter of the success in his time in office as Reagan had in the 80s, history will judge that he had dwarfed Reagan in stature.

    Cause of that’s how bad things are now.

    Mayim Bialik (3c92a1)

  18. oops that wasn’t really Mayim she’s busy doing important neurosciencey things

    it was me!

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  19. It’s a good thing you confessed Mr. Feets because I don’t think anybody here would ever have figured it out otherwise.

    elissa (5d3fa4)

  20. I’d give my right arm for another eight years of Reagan, sickofrinos.

    I am not a fan of Romney, Sickofrinos, and I don’t think he’s similar to Reagan, but it is worth noting that many of Reagan’s positions in 1980 probably would have been called RINO by at least some of the pundits these days.

    But basically I think you have that one central thing Reagan had that really goes beyond policy. It’s just a can do attitude. Morning in America again. I think that’s actually one thing Romney can offer. He’s a good communicator.

    Dustin (330eed)

  21. Walt Kowalski made sure to put his rounds on target, which is why he had intense credibility even when armed with nothing more than a zippo lighter.

    Sorry if that’s a spoiler, but if you haven’t seen the damn movie yet, then —

    Get off my lawn!

    Beldar (f9f436)

  22. HI Beldar! Nice to see you here.

    Patterico (feda6b)

  23. One of the best movies, Beldar.

    Too bad about that damn superbowl commercial.

    Dustin (330eed)

  24. I was a George H.W. Bush man in 1979-1980 until the moment Reagan sewed up the nomination. I thought Bush had the best possible preparation to become president, the most balanced and impressive resume, with legitimate accomplishments in each position, of any serious POTUS candidate before or since.

    But I was wrong. Reagan was the better man in 1980, and Bush-41 was a much better president himself after serving as Reagan’s loyal Veep for eight years.

    I don’t think there’s much parallel between the GOP primaries and candidate-selection process this year and in 1980. And even Reagan’s original and most ardent supporters in 1980 didn’t appreciate just how transformative his presidency would turn out to be, although the clues are certainly there in abundance with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

    Beldar (f9f436)

  25. speaking of movies National Soros Radio takes another bite at Hunger Games – they’re gonna beat this poor little movie into the approved zeitgeisty mold if it kills them

    a totalitarian society where the war’s victors live in a shining city on a hill and keep the losers — the 99 percent? — in the direst poverty, living in 12 variously starving and miserable districts.

    The 1-percenters can’t help rubbing their dominance in, and Collins’ central notion — reportedly inspired by channel-surfing between reality shows and news reports of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — is that to be sure the losers never forget how completely they’ve been subjugated, the Capitol stages a televised ritual each year: kids fighting kids to the death.

    Occupy Panem?



    Hapless National Soros Radio propaganda whore Bob Mondello end up grousing that…

    the movie doesn’t actually have a lot to say about the social issues it brings up

    Nope. It’s just a plucky and well-armed kid defying an autocratic and fascist state.

    Nothing to see here.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  26. Actually, Sensenbrenner was my Rep when I voted for Ford in ’76. I may have voted for him half of my adult life through redistricting and my own moves.

    Unlike most of the Dear Readership, I’ve been blessed to live in conservative districts by birth and by choice a majority of my lifetime.

    Come to think of it, what possesses people to live with the enemy?

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  27. I remember the 1980 convention, when the big question was who was going to be VP. For a while it looked like it might be Ford and a “co-presidency” until Reagan finally appeased the establishment with GHWB.

    rbj (9ae8d9)

  28. And Californians seem to think that history started in 1849.

    Amphipolis (e01538)

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