15 September 1980

A look at the 1980 presidential contest between President Carter, Gov. Ronald Reagan, and Rep. John Anderson (R-IL) by Time Magazine on this date, 24 years ago.

A very interesting historical perspective.

(Hat tip, Dave.)


Mattson's Musings

While I intend to remain part of the Points West team, I've started me own blog. A place I intend to record commentary on the coming election and, after that, political issues of the day (regardless of who wins the November presidential contest).

Come take a look and let me know what you think (comments will be up and running soon). It's basically "Points West Redux," but it's my own baby. I will "double post" long form posts from time to time, but many of my shorter outbursts will be reserved for the solo site.




Another plea to John Kerry: GET A CLUE!!

Both Bill Clinton and the Kerry campaign went under the knife over the Labor Day weekend. The former president had his chest cut open, and John Kerry's lagging campaign fortunes were dissected by media talking heads all across the cable channel spectrum.

The post-convention bump in the polls for President Bush is heard by many as the tolling of the bells for the hope of homeland regime change.

It does take a willing suspension of disbelief to conclude there was no coordination between Karl Rove and his old Texas buddies bankrolling the attack Swift Boat ads. The timing of the anti-Kerry ads is the smoking gun: tucked between the two conventions, their attacks on Kerry's military service dominated campaign news and provided background to the charges leveled at the Republican convention.

Kerry, alas, didn't (and still hasn't) effectively challenged the ads. The Republicans understand this campaign is the first post-Florida 2000 national contest, and they are running it as they ran their after-election effort back then: Take no prisoners. The White House knows it is in the fight of its life, yet Kerry thinks he can still go windsurfing in the waters off Nantucket without being lampooned by his detractors (and supporters).

A presidential race, like the office itself, requires self-sacrifice -- something Bill Clinton never quite understood. But George W. Bush's public life is just that: a show for the public. Kerry has climbed upon a national stage, but doesn't seem to realize he is so completely on display. America is not Massachusetts, where Kerry's own tastes and idiosyncrasies are well-known and tolerated.

The Bush team has made this campaign about the future (because the administration's past isn't anything to run on). But Kerry played into the Bush teams' hands by making his campaign about the past. What Kerry must do is make the remaining weeks about the future, too: what the future will look like if Bush gets a second term.

The GOP convention made that future clear: tax cuts for the wealthy made permanent, continued deficits that mortgage our childrens' future, a Supreme Court packed with activist God-fearing conservative justices (modeled after Bush's favorite, Clarence Thomas), rash military adventures anytime, anywhere, the list goes on and on. (Right now my hunch is Bush squeaks in on November 2nd and by late 2005 voters will have the deepest case of buyer's remorse in the history of our great nation.)

Kerry needs to broadcast that future. Swing voters are legitimately confused by the Bush presidency: Deficits that are generational transfers of wealth from the middle class to the rich, government handouts to the fattest corporations that swear allegiance to the White House, guns and butter no-bid contracts for the likes of Halliburton.

The Republican convention outlined a future full of fear. Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush elevated the terror alert for the next four years. The threat of nuclear annihilation has been privatized. The Soviet Union once caused Americans to duck and cover; now Bush's vaunted "ownership society" lets terrorists buy nuclear weapons from international providers.

What the Bush campaign is selling to the public is that President Bush will kill more Islamic malcontents than Kerry ever will in response to such threats. Bush will not hesitate to make that call, whereas Kerry might think about it for a while. In order for that bloody message to resonate, it must be heard in a state of fear. And when Kerry windsurfs, many voters doubt that he is sufficiently scared -- or scary. That is why, when Bush vacations, he prefers to be photographed wielding a chain saw.

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