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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Reagan Painted a Pretty Gloomy Picture in 1980

In a New York Times article titled "Gloomy Republican Campaigns Leave Behind Reagan Cheer," Jeremy Peters claims that GOP candidates are painting a gloomy picture of the country, in contrast to the Gipper's optimism.

This article distorts history very badly.  In the 1980 campaign, Reagan did what out-party candidates always do:  talk at length about the country's problems and blame the in-party for them.  Here are just a few examples:
  • "Double-digit inflation has robbed you and your family of the ability to plan.  It has destroyed the confidence to buy and it threatens the very structure of family life itself as more and more wives are forced to work in order to help meet the ever-increasing cost of living.  At the same time, the lack of year growth in the economy has introduced the justifiable fear in the minds of working men and women who are already over extended that soon there will be fewer jobs and no money to pay for even the necessities of life.  And tragically as the cost of living keeps going up, the standard of living which has been our great pride keeps going down." (Announcement of candidacy, November 13, 1979)
  • "Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity.: (Acceptance speech, July 17, 1980)
  • "Soviet leaders talk arrogantly of a so-called “correlation of forces” that has moved in their favor, opening up opportunities for them to extend their influence.  The response from the administration in Washington has been one of weakness, inconsistency, vacillation and bluff.  A Soviet combat brigade is discovered in Cuba; the Carter Administration declares its presence 90 miles off our shore as “unacceptable.”  The brigade is still there.  Soviet troops mass on the border of Afghanistan.  The President issues a stern warning against any move by those troops to cross the border.  They cross the border, execute the puppet President they themselves installed in 1978, and carry out a savage attack on the people of Afghanistan.  Our credibility in the world slumps further.  The President proclaims we’ll protect the Middle East by force of arms and 2 weeks later admits we don’t have the force." (VFW speech, August 18, 1980)
  • "Eight million out of work.  Inflation running at 18 percent in the first quarter of 1980.  Black unemployment at about 14 percent, higher than any single year since the government began keeping separate statistics.  Four straight major deficits run up by Carter and his friends in Congress.  The highest interest rates since the Civil War--reaching at times close to 20 percent--lately down to more than 11 percent but now going up again--productivity falling for six straight quarters among the most productive people in history." (Speech at Liberty State Park, NJ, September 1, 1980)
  • "They're leading us into an economic dark ages," (Speech in Houston, October 29, 1980)