martes, 12 de junio de 2007

1980 GOP Presidential Primary

Ahora un poco de historia. Vamos a rememorar uno de los procesos de nominación más recordados de las últimas décadas. Me refiero a las primarias republicanas de 1980. Aquellas de las que saldría uno de los Presidentes más representativos de la era moderna. Ronald Reagan. Para ello voy a recuperar un capítulo del libro George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography de Webster G. Tarpley y Anton Chaitkin. El capítulo en el que se nos habla de la campaña del 80. Desde el enconado enfrentamiento en las primarias, hasta la selección de Bush como running-mate de Reagan, en lugar de Gerald Ford.

Hubo aquel año siete precandidatos republicanos: el ex Gobernador Ronald Reagan, de California; el Senador Howard Baker, de Tennessee; el ex director de la CIA, George Bush; el ex Gobernador John Connally, de Texas; el Congresista Phil Crane, de Illinois; el Senador Bob Dole, de Kansas; y el Congresista John Anderson, de Illinois. Todos ellos se proponían hacerse con la nominación republicana para derrotar al Presidente Jimmy Carter. Pero en realdiad la carrera fue una batalla a dos entre Reagan y Bush.

Es largo pero vale la pena leerlo. Está en inglés.

En la imagen: los precandidatos republicanos saludan antes de un debate en 1980.

by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin

(...) In 1980, the Republicans lined up to take on the weakened Carter. Reagan dominated the other candidates from the conservative wing while the more moderate vote was divided between several contenders. Another conservative, former Texas Governor John Connally, staked his hopes on a South Carolina win and dropped out after losing that state to Reagan.

As the 1970s came to a close, Former Governor Ronald Reagan was the odds-on favorite to win his party's nomination for president (after nearly beating incumbent President Gerald Ford just four years earlier). He was so far ahead in the polls that campaign director John Sears decided on an "above the fray" strategy. He did not attend many of the multicandidate forums and straw poll events held in the summer and fall of 1979. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for president in a speech at the New York Hilton, on November 13, 1979. Too late.

However, George Bush, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and chairman of the Republican National Committee, taking a page from the George McGovern/Jimmy Carter playbook, did go to all the so-called "cattle calls", and began to come in first at a number of these event.

Bush formally announced his presidential candidacy on May 1, 1979. One of Bush's themes was the idea of a "Union of the English-Speaking Peoples." Bush was asked later in his campaign by a reporter to elaborate on this. Bush stated at that time that "the British are the best friend America has in the world today. I believe we can benefit greatly from much close collaboration in the economic, military, and political spheres. Sure I am an Anglophile. We should all be. Britain has never done anything bad to the United States."

During the summer of 1979, Bush grappled with what has since been called "the Vision Thing." What could he tell the voters when he was asked why he wanted to be president? During that summer Bush invited experts on various areas of policy to come to Kennebunkport and give him the benefit of their views. Bush met with these experts from business, academia, and government in seminars three days a week from 9 to 5 over a period of six weeks. Many were invited to the family house at Walker's Point for lunch. In the evenings there were barbecues and cocktails on the ocean front.

En la imagen: George Bush en 1979.

It is an indication of the extraordinary intellectual aridity of George Bush that these blab sessions produced almost no identifiable policy ideas for Bush's 1980 campaign. Bush had wanted to avoid the fate of Ted Kennedy had been widely ridiculed when he had proven unable to respond to the question of why he wanted to be president. But Bush never developed an answer to this question either.

Or, more precisely, it was the imperative to avoid any identifiable idea content that emerged as Bush's strategy. For, just as much as Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, George Bush was one of the pioneers of the hollow, demagogic, television-based campaign style that had become dominant during the 1980's.

Together with James Baker III, always the idea man of the Bush-Baker combo, the Bush campaign studied Jimmy Carter's success story of 1976. They knew they were starting with a "George Who?", virtually unknown to most voters. First of all, Bush would ape the Carter strategy of showing up in Iowa and New Hampshire early and offer, attempting to ingratiate himself with the little people by assiduous cultivation. Bush spent 27 days in Iowa before the caucuses there, and 54 days in New Hampshire.

During this period, Bush was overheard telling a New York Times reporter that he didn't want to "resist the Carter analogy." Bush readily admitted that he was "an elitist candidate." "If Carter could do it with no credentials, I can do it with fantastic credentials," Bush blurted out. He conceded that the fact that nobody knew anything about his "fantastic credentials" was a little discouraging. "But they will! They will!"

the Bush campaign would advance on a cushion of money-- he spent $1.3 million for the Illinois primary alone. The biggest item would be media buys- above all television. This time Bush brought in Baltimore media expert Robert Goodman, who designed a series of television shorts that were described as "fast-moving, newsfilmlike portraits of an eneregtic, dyanimc Bush creating excitement and moving through crowds, with an upbeat musical track behind him. Each of the advertisements used a slogan that attempted to capitalize on Bush's experience, while hitting Carter's wretched on-the-job performance and Ronald Reagan's inexperience on the national scene: 'George Bush,' the announcer intoned, 'a President we won't have to train.'"

One of these shorts showed Bush talking about inflation to a group of approving factory workers. In another, Bush climbed out of a private plane at a small airport, surrounded by supporters with straw hats and placards and yelled "We're going all the way" to the accompaniment of applause and music Goodman hoped would sound "presidential." The inevitable footage of Bush getting fished out of the drink off Chichi Jima shootdown was also aired.

Network camera crews were offered repeated chances to film Bush while he was jogging. This was an oblique way of pointing out that Reagan would be 70 years old by the begining of the primary season. "I'm up for the 1980's," was a favorite Bush quote for interviews. There were no attacks on Reagan; indeed Bush was seeking to come across as a moderate conservative, in order first to fend off the challenge of Sen. Howard Baker, who was also running, and to gain on Reagan.

En la imagen: Ronald Reagan hace campaña en New Hampshire.

In a rather slavish imitation of the Carter victory scenario, Bush also chose to imitate what had been called Carter's "fuzziness," or unwillingness to say anything of substance about issues. Bush was the unabashed demagogue, telling Diane Sawyer of CBS when he would finally talk about the issues: "if they can show me how it will get me more votes someplace, I'll be glad to do it."

On November 3, 1979, Bush bested Sen. Howard Baker in a "beauty contest" straw poll taken at the Maine Republican convention in Portland. Bush won by a paper-thin margin of 20 votes out of 1,336 cast, and Maine was really his home state, but the Brown Brothers, Harriman networks at the New York Times delivered a frontpage lead story with a subhead that read "Bush gaining stature as '80 contender."

Bush's biggest lift of the 1980 campaign came when he won a plurality in the January 21 Iowa caucuses, narrowly besting Reagan, who had not put any effort into the state. At this point the Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones media operation went into high gear. That same night Walter Cronkite told viewers: "George Bush has apparently done what he hoped to do, coming out of the pack as the principal challenger to front-runner Ronald Reagan."

In the interval between January 21 and the New Hampshire primary of February 26, the Eastern Liberal Establishment labored mightily to put George Bush into power as president that same year. The press hype in favor of Bush was overwhelming. Newsweek's cover featured a happy and smiling Bush talking with his supporters: "BUSH BREAKS OUT OF THE PACK," went the headline. Smaller picutres showed a scowling Senator Baker and a decidedly un-telegenic Reagan grimacing before a microphone.

The 'Newsweek' reporters played up Bush's plan to redo the Carter script from 1976, and went on to assert that Bush's triumph in Iowa "raised the serious possibility that he could accomplish on the Republican side this year what Carter did in 1976--parlay a well-tuned personal appetite for on-the-ground campaigning into a Long March to his party's Presidential nomination." So wrote the magazine controlled by the family money of Bush's old business associate Eugene Meyer, and Bush was appreciative.

'Time', which had been founded by Henry Luce of Skull and Bones, showed a huge, grinning Bush and a smaller, very cross Reagan, headlined: "BUSH SOARS." The leading polls, always doctored by the intelligence agencies and other interests, showed a Bush boom: Lou Harris found that whereas Reagan had led Bush into Iowa by 32-6 nationwide, Bush had pulled even with Reagan at 27-27 within 24 hours after the Iowa result had become known.

Savvy Republican operatives were reported to be flocking to the Bush bandwagon. Even seasoned observers stuck their necks out; Witcover and Germond wrote in their column of February 22 that "a rough consensus is taking shape among moderate Republican politicians that George Bush may achieve a commanding position within the next three weeks in the contest for the Republican nomination. And those with unresolved reservations about Bush are beginning to wonder privately if it is even possible to keep an alternative politically alive for the late primaries."

Robert Healy of the Boston Globe stuck his neck out even further for the neo-Harrimanite cause with a forecast that "even though he is still called leading candidate in some places, Reagan does not look like he'll be on the Presidential stage much longer." It was even possible, Healy gushed that Bush "will go through 1980...without losing an important Presidential primary." William Safire of the New York Times claimed that his contacts with Republican insiders across the country had yielded "a growing suspicion that Reagan may once again be bypassed for the historic role...a general feeling that he may be a man whose cause may triumph, but whose own time may never come."

NBC's Brokaw started calling Reagan the "former front-runner." Tom Petit of the same network was more direct: "I would like to suggest that Ronald Reagan is politically dead." Once again the choice of pictures made Bush look good, Reagan bad.

The Eastern Liberal establishment had left no doubt who its darling was: Bush, and not Reagan. In their arrogance, the Olympians had once again committed the error of confusing their collective patrician whim with real processes ongoing in the real world. The New Hampshire primary was to prove a devastating setback for Bush, in spite of all the hype the Bushman networks were able to crank out. How did it happen?

George Bush had thus found it politic over the years to become a member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations. By 1979, Bush was a member of the board of the CFR, where he sat next to his old patron Henry Kissinger. The President of the CFR during this period was Kissinger clone Winston Lord of the traditional Skull and Bones family. George was also a member of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, which had been founded by Ambrose Bierce after the Civil War to cater to the Stanfords, Huntingtons, Crockers, Hopkins, and the other nouveau-riche tycoons that had emerged from the gold rush.

Then there was the Trilateral Commission, founded by David Rockefeller in 1973-74. One branch from North America, one branch from Europe, one branch from Japan, with the resulting organism a kind of policy forum aiming at an international consensus among financier factions. The Carter Administration was very overtly a Trilateral Administration. Popular hatred of Carter and his crew made the Trilterals an attractive target. Reagan promised that he would change all that, but his government was also dominated by the Trilateraloids.

En la Imagen: George Bush y su campaign manager James Baker, charlando con el Senador vasco-americano Paul Laxalt (R - Nevada) aliado de Reagan.

One who was caught up in the turbulence was William Loeb, the opinionated curmudgeon of Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts who was the publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader, the most important newspaper in the state. Loeb had supported Reagan in 1976 and was for him again in 1980. Loeb might have dispersed his fire against all of Reagan's Republican rivals, including Howard Baker, Robert Dole, Phil Crane, John Anderson, John Connally, and Bush. Loeb would launch a barrage of slashing attacks on Bush. The other GOP contenders would be virtually ignored by Loeb.

Loeb had assailed Ford as "Jerry the Jerk" in 1976; his attacks on Sen. Muskie reduced the latter to tears during the 1972 primary. Loeb began to play up the theme of Bush as a liberal, as a candidate controlled by the "internationalist" (or Kissinger) wing of the GOP and the Wall Strreet bankers, always soft on communism and always ready to undermine liberty through Big Government here at home. A February editorial by Loeb reacted to Bush's Iowa success with these warnings of vote fraud:

"The Bush operation in Iowa had all the smell of a CIA covert operation....Strange aspects of the Iowa operation [included] a long, slow count and then the computers broke down at a very convenient point, with Bush having a six per cent bulge over Reagan...Will the elite nominate their man, or will we nominate Reagan?"

For Loeb the most damning evidence was Bush's membership in the Trilateral Commission, the creature of David Rockefeller and the internmational bankers. Carter and his administration had been packed with Trilateral members; there were indications that the establishment choice of Carter to be the next US president had been made at a meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Kyodo, Japan, where Carter had been introduced by Gianni Agnelli of Italy's FIAT motor company.

Loeb simplified all that: "George Bush is a Liberal" was the title of his editorial published the day before the primary. Loeb flayed Bush as a "spoiled little rich kid who has been wet-nursed to succeed and now, packaged by David Rockefeller's Trilateral Commission, thinks he is entitled to the White House as his latest toy."

Shortly before the election Loeb ran a cartoon entitled "Silk Stocking Republicans," which showed Bush at a cocktail party with a cigarette and glass in hand. Bush and the other participants, all male, were wearing women's panty-hose. This was the message that Loeb had apparently gotten from Bush's body language.

Paid political ads began to appear in the Union-Leader sponsored by groups from all over the country, some helped along by John Sears of the Reagan campaign. One showed a drawing of Bush juxtaposed with a Mr. Peanut logo: "The same people who gave you Jimmy Carter want now to give you George Bush," read the headline. The text described a "coalition of liberals, multinational corporate executives, big-city bankers, and hungry power brokers" led by David Rockefeller whose "purpose is to control the American government, regardless of which political party--Democrat or Republican-- wins the presidency this coming November!" "The Trojan horse for this scheme," the ad went on, "is Connecticut-Yankee-turned-Texas oilman George Bush- the out-of-nowhere Republican who openly admits he is using the same "game-plan" developed for Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential nomination campaign." The ad went on to menmtion the Council on Fopreign Relations and the "Rockefeller money" that was the lifeblood of Bush's effort.

On February 24, Loeb trotted out Gen. Danny Graham, part of Bush's Team B operation, to talk about "George Bush's weakness as the head of the CIA and his complete failure to estimate correctly the Soviet threat." Bush had "stacked" the Team A-Team B debate, Graham was now claiming. Brent Scowcroft, Lt. Gen. Sam Wilson and Ray Cline all rushed to Bush's defense. "Any inference that George was too soft in his analysis of the Soviet Union was just dead wrong," responded Cline. "George is probably more skeptical and concerned about Soviet behavior than anyone in town." "Baloney!" was Graham's rejoinder.

Loeb hyped a demand from the National Alliance of Senior Citizens that Bush repudiate and apologize for a remark that Social Security had "become largely a welfare program." Here Bush was scourged for his "insensitivity to the independence of Social Security recipients." Right underneath was another article from a Union-Leader special correspondent in New York City reporting that Bush's delegates had been thrown off the ballot there by the Board of Elections because Bush's petitions "were illegal."

While all this was going on, Bush was prating about his "momentum" with campaign statements that focussed exclusively on technicalities rather than offering reasons why anybody should support Bush. Right after the Iowa victory, here was Bush: "Clearly, we're going to come out of here with momentum...We appear to have beaten both Connally and Baker very, very badly. The numbers look substantial. And they are going to have to get some momentum going, and I'm coming out of here with momentum." A few weeks later, Bush was still repeating the same gibberish. Bush told Bob Schieffer of CBS about his advantage for New Hampshire:

-What we'll have, you see, is momentum. We will have forward "Big Mo" on our side, as they say in athletics.

-Big Mo?

-Yeah, Bush said. "Mo," momentum.

While campaigning, Bush was asked once again about the money he received from Nixon's 1970 Townhouse slush fund. Bush's stock reply was that his friend Jaworski had cleared him: "The answer came back, clean, clean, clean," said Bush.

By now the Reagan camp had caught on that something important was happening, something which could benefit Reagan enormously. First Reagan's crony Edwin Meese piped up in oblique reference to the Trilateral membership of some candidates, including Bush: "all these people come out of an international economic industrial organization with a pattern of thinking on world affairs" that led to a "softening on defense."

That played well, and Reagan decided he would pick up the theme. On February 7, 1980 Reagan observed in a speech that 19 key members of the Carter Administration, including Carter, were members of the Trilateral Commission. According to Reagan, this influence had indeed led to a "softening on defense" because of the Trilateraloids' belief that business "should transcend, perhaps, the national defense." [fn 21] This made sense: Bush would later help enact NAFTA and GATT. Voters whose fathers remembered the complaint of a beaten Bonesman, Robert Taft, in 1952-- that every GOP presidential candidate since 1936 had been chosen by Chase bank and the Rockefellers-- found this touched a responsive chord.

Bush realized that he was faced with an ugly problem. He summarily resigned from both the Traileral Commission and from the New York Council on Foreign Relations. But his situation in New Hampshire was desperate. His cover had been largely blown. He stopped talking about the "Big Mo" and began babbling that he was "the issues candidate." This was an error in demagogy, also because Bush had nothing to say. When he tried to grapple with issues, he immediately came under fire from the press. Newsweek now found his solutions "vague."

The Washington Post reported that Bush "has been ill-prepared to respond to simple questions about basic issues as they arise. When he was asked about President Carter's new budget this week, his replies were vague and contradictory." The Wall Street Journal agreed that Bush's positions were "short on detail. In economics his spending and tax priorities remain fuzzy. In foreign policy, he hasn't made it at all clear how he envisions using American military power to advance economic and political interests."

These were the press organs that had mounted the hype for Bush a few weeks before. Now the real polls, the ones that are generally not published, showed Bush collapsing, and even media that would normally have been rabidly pro-Bush were obliged to distance themselves from him in order to defend their own "credibility," meaning their future ability to ply the citizens with lies and disorientation. Part of Reagan's support reflected a desire by voters to stick it to the media.

Bush was now running scared, sufficiently so as to entertain the prospect of a debate among candidates. One was held in Manchester, where Bush tried to bait Reagan about an ethnic joke the latter had told. "I was stiffed," explained Reagan, and went into his avuncular act while Bush squirmed.

En la imagen: Ronald y Nancy Reagan en Manchester, New Hampshire, 1980.

John Sears of the Reagan campaign signalled to the Nashua Telegraph, a paper published in southern New Hampshire, that Reagan would accept a one-on-one debate with Bush. James Baker was gulled: he welcomed the idea because the debate format would establish Bush as the main alternative to Reagan. "We thought it was the best thing since sliced bread," said Baker. Bob Dole complained to the Federal Elections Commission about being excluded, and the Reagan camp suggested that the debate be payed for out of campaign funds, half by Reagan and half by Bush. Bush refused to pay, but Reagan pronounced himself willing to defray the entire cost. Thus it came to pass that a bilateral Bush-Reagan debate was scheduled for February 23 at a gymanasium in Nashua.

For many, this evening would provide the epiphany of George Bush, a moment when his personal essence was made manifest.

Bush propaganda has always tried to portray the Nashua Teleghraph debate as some kind of ambush planned by Reagan's diabolical campaign manager, John Sears. Established facts include that the Nashua Telegraph owner, blueblood J. Herman Pouliot, and Telegraph editor John Breen, were both close personal friends of former Governor Hugh Gregg, who was Bush's campaign director in the state. Bush had met with Breen before the debate. Perhaps it was Bush who was trying to set some kind of a trap for Reagan.

On the night of February 23, the gymanasium was packed with more than 2400 people. Bush's crony Rep. Barber Conable (or "Barbarian Cannibal," later Bush's man at the World Bank) was there with a group of Congressmen for Bush. Then the excluded GOP candidates, John Anderson, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Phil Crane all arrived and asked to meet with Reagan and Bush to discuss opening the debate up to them as well. (Connally, also a candidate, was in South Carolina.)

Reagan agreed to meet with them and went backstage into a small office with the other caandidates. He expressed a general willingness to let them join in. But Bush refused to talk to the other candidates, and sat on the stage waiting impatiently for the debate to begin. John Sears told Peter Teeley that Sears wanted to talk to Bush about the debate format. "It doesn't work that way," hissed the liberal Teeley, who sent James Baker to talk with Sears. Sears said it was time to have an open debate. Baker passed the buck to the Nashua Telegraph.

From the room behind the stage where the candidates were meeting, the Reagan people sent US Senator Gordon Humphrey out to urge Bush to come and confer with the rest of them. "If you don't come now," said Humprhey to Bush, "you're doing a disservice to party unity." Bush whined in reply: "Don't tell me about unifying the Republican Party! I've done more for this party than you'll ever do! I've worked too hard for this and they're not going to take it away from me!" In the back room, there was a proposal that Reagan, Baker, Dole, Anderson, and Crane should go on stage together and announce that Reagan would refuse to debate unless the others were included.

"Everyone seemed quite irritated with Bush, whom they viewed as acting like a spoiled child," wrote an aide to Anderson later. [fn 22] Bush refused to even ackowledge the presence of Dole, who had helped him get started as GOP chairman; of Anderson and Crane, former House colleagues; and of Howard Baker, who had helped him get confirmed at the CIA. George kept telling anybody who came close that he was sticking with the original rules.

The audience was cheering for the four excluded candidates, demanding that they be allowed to speak. Publisher Pouliot addressed the crowd. "This is getting to sound more like a boxing match. In the rear are four other candidates who have not been invited by the Nashua Telegraph," said Pouliot. He was roundly booed. "Get them chairs," cried a woman, and she was applauded. Bush kept staring straight ahead into space, and the hostility of the crowd was focussing more and more on him.

Reagan started to speak, motivating why the debate should be opened up. Editor Breen, a rubbery-looking hack with a bald pate and glasses, piped up: "Turn Mr. Reagn's microphone off." There was pandemonium. "You Hitler!" screamed a man in the front row right at Breen.

Reagan replied: "I'm paying for this microphone, Mr. Green." The crowd broke out in wild cheers. Bush still stared straight ahead in his temper tantrum. Reagan spoke on to ask that the others be included, saying that exclusion was unfair. But he was unsure of himself, looking to Nancy Reagan for a sign as to what he should do. At the end Reagan said he would prefer an open debate, but that he would accept the bilateral format if that were the only way.

With that the other candidates left the podium in a towering rage. "There'll be another day, George," growled Bob Dole.

Reagan and Bush then debated, and those who were still paying attention agreed that Bush was the loser. A staff member later told Bush, "The good news is that nobody paid any attention to the debate. The bad news is you lost that, too."

But most people's attention, and the camera teams, had shifted to a music room where the ejected hopefuls were uniformly slamming Bush. Anderson asserted that "Clearly the responsibility for this whole travesty rests with Mr. Bush." "He refused to even come back here and talk." Howard Baker called Bush's behavior "the most flagrant attempt to return to the closed door I've ever seen." Baker was beside himself: "The punkest political device I ever saw!" "He wants to be king, " raged Bob Dole. "I have never been treated this way in my life. Where do we live? Is this America? So far as George Bush is concerned he'd better find another Republican Party if he can't talk to those of us who come up here." "He didn't want us to debate. He can't provide leadership for the Republican Party with that attitude," Dole kept repeating.

Film footage of Reagan grabbing the microphone while Bush stewed in his temper tantrum was all over local and network television for the next 48 hours. It was the epiphany of a scoundrel.

En el Video: el famoso incidente del debate en Nashua.

Now the Bush damage control apparatus went into that mode it finds so congenial: lying. A radio commercial was prepared under orders from James Baker for New Hampshire stations: here an announcer, not Bush, intoned that "at no time did George Bush object to a full candidate forum. This accusation by the other candidates is without foundation whatsoever."

Walter Cronkite heard a whining voice from Houston Texas as he interviewed Bush on his new program: "I wanted to do what I agreed to do," said the whine. "I wanted to debate with Ronald Reagan."

Haynes Johnson of the Washington Post caught something of the moment: "It was Bush's own personal response to the controversy that destroyed him. The self-portrait of George Bush drawn these last few days before the balloting was singularly unattractive. Bush came over as a petulant politician, lacking grace and dignity, and complaining peevishly about being 'sandbagged' and 'ambushed' by all the other nasty politicians. He resembled nothing more than a spoiled child whose toy has been taken away." That was the talk of New Hampshire through the primary.

Bush's handlers were resigned; some of them knew it was all over. "What can I say? He choked up," said one. "George does not have a sense of theater," noted another.

The New Hampshire primary was a debacle for Bush. Reagan won 50% of the votes to George's 23%, with 13% for Baker and 10% for Anderson. Big Mo had proven to be fickle.

As for the old curmudgeon William Loeb, he was dead with two years.

Bush played out the string through the primaries, but he won only four states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Michigan) plus Puerto Rico. Reagan took 29. Even in Pennsylvania, where the Bushmen outspent Reagan by a colossal margin, Reagan managed to garner more delegates even though Bush got more votes.

Sometime during the spring of 1980, Bush began attacking Reagan for his "supply-side" economic policies. Bush may have thought he still had a chance to win the nomination, but in any case he coined the phrase "voodoo economics." Bush later claimed that the idea had come from his British-born press secretary, Peter Teeley. Later, when the time came to ingratiate himself with Reagan's following, Bush claimed that he had never used the offending term. But, in a speech made at Carnegie-Mellon University on April 10, 1980, he attacked Reagan for "a voodoo economic policy." He compared Reagan's approach to something which former Governor Jerry Brown of California, "Governor Moonbeam," might have concocted.

Bush was able to keep going after New Hampshire because Mosbacher's machinations had given him a post-New Hampshire war chest of $3 million. The Reagan camp had spent two thirds of their legal total expenditure of $18 million before the primaries had begun. This had proven effective, but it meant that in more than a dozen primaries, Reagan could afford no television purchases at all. This allowed Bush to move in and smother Reagan under a cascade of greenbacks in a few states, even though Reagan was on his way to the nomination. That was the story in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The important thing for Bush now was to outlast the other candidates and to build his credentials for the vice presidency, since that was what he was now running for.

En la imagen: Ronald Reagan haciendo campaña en Columbia, Carolina del Sur, 1980.

One of Bush's friends did not desert him. When Bush came to Houston on April 28 for a lunchhour rally, he was introduced by former Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, a man devoted to his cause. Jaworski condemned Reagan as an "extremist whose over-the-counter simplistic remedies and shopworn platitudes of solutions trouble open-minded and informed voters." Jaworski assailed Carter as a "Democrat in despair," and called on the Texas voters "to pay no attention to the also-rans who marched to the altar of public opinion, wooing the voters with large campaign chests and who are now back home licking their wounds as rejected suitors." This was a veiled attack on Connally, who had spent $12 million getting one Arkansas delegate, dropped out, and endorsed Reagan. Jaworski's Watergate-era loyalties ran deep.

Bush still claimed that Texas was his home state, so he was obliged to make an effort there in advance of the May 3 primary. Here Bush spent about half a million dollars on television, while the Reaganauts were unable to buy time owing to their lack of money; Reagan had now reached his FEC spending ceiling.

The secret society issue was as big in Texas as it had been in New Hampshire; during an appearance at the University of Texas Bush delivered a whining ultimatum to Reagan to order his campaign workers to "stop passing out insidious literature" questioning Bush's patriotism because of his membership in the Trilateral Commission, which Bush characterized as a group that sought to improve US relations with our closest allies. He wanted Reagan to repudiate thie entire line of attack, which was still hurting the Bushmen badly. During a five-day plane-hopping blitz of the state, Bush came across as "cryptically hawkish".

Despite the lack of money for television, Reagan defeated Bush by 52% to 47% of the half a million votes cast. But because of the winner-take-all rule in individual precincts, Reagan took 61 delegates to Bush's 19. Bush's only areas of strength were in his old Houston liberal Republican enclave and in northwest Dallas. Reagan swept the rest, especially the rural areas.

The issue became acute among the Bushmen on May 20. This was the day Bush won in Michigan, but that Bush win was irrelevant because Reagan, by winning the Nebraska primary the same day, had acquired enough pledged delegates to acquire the arithmetical certainty of being nominated on the first ballot. In the tradition of Dink Stover at Yale, which says that one must not be a quitter, Bush made some noises about going on to Ohio and to California on the outside chance that Reagan might self-destruct through some horrendous gaffe, but this was merely histrionics.

Bush allowed himself to be convinced that discretion was the better part of valor by David Keene and speechwriter (and later red Studebaker biographer) Vic Gold. His campaign was now $400,000 in debt, but Mosbacher later claimed to have wiped that slate clean within two months. Bush officially capitulated on May 26, 1980, and declared that he would support Reagan all the way to November. Reagan, campaigning that day at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, commended Bush's campaign and thanked him for his support.

All the money and organization had not sufficed. Bush now turned his entire attention to the quest for his "birthright," the vice presidency. This would be his fifth attempt to attain that office, and once again, despite the power of Bush's network, success was uncertain.

Inside the Reagan camp, one of Bush's greatest assets would be William Casey. As the Republican convention gathered in Detroit in July, 1980, the problem was to convince Reagan of the inevitability of tapping Bush as his running mate. But Reagan did not want Bush. He had conceived an antipathy, even a hostility for George. One factor may have been British liberal Peter Teeley's line about Reagan's "voodoo economics." But the decisive factor was what Reagan had experienced personally from Bush during the Nashua Telegraph debate, which had left a lasting and highly derogatory impression.

Drew Lewis was a leading Bushman submarine in the Reagan camp, telling the candidate that Bush could help him in electoral college megastates like Pennsylvania and Michigan where Ted Kennedy had demonstrated that Carter was vulnerable during the primaries. Lewis badgered Reagan with the prospect that if he waited too long, he would have to accept a politically neutral running mate in the way that Ford took Dole in 1976, which might end up costing him the election. According to Lewis, Reagan needed to broaden his base, and Bush was the most palatable and practical vehicle for doing so.

Much to his credit, Reagan resisted; "he told several staff members and advisers that he still harbored 'doubts' about Bush, based on Nashua. "If he can't stand up to that kind of pressure,' Reagan told one intimate, 'how could he stand up to the pressure of being president?' To another, he said: "I want to be very frank with you. I have strong reservations about George Bush. I'm concerned about turning the country over to him.'"

As the convention came closer, Reagan continued to be hounded by Bushmen from inside and outside his own campaign. A few days before the convention it began to dawn on Reagan that one alternative to the unpalatable Bush might be former President Gerald Ford, assuming the latter could be convinced to make the run. Two days before Reagan left for Detroit, according to one of his strategists, Reagan "came to the conclusion that it would be Bush, but he wasn't all that happy about it." But this was not yet the last word.

Casey, Meese, and Deaver sounded out Ford, who was reluctant but did not issue a categorical rejection. Stuart Spencer, Ford's 1976 campaign manager, reported to Reagan on his contacts with Ford. ''Ron,' Spencer said, 'Ford ain't gonna do it, and you're gonna pick Bush.' But judging from Reagan's reaction, Spencer recalled later, "There was no way he was going to pick Bush,'and the reason was simple: Reagan just didn't like the guy. "It was chemistry,' Spencer said.

Reagan now had to be ground down by an assortment of Eastern Liberal Establishment perception-mongers and political heavies. Much of the well-known process of negotiation between Reagan and Ford for the "Dream Ticket" of 1980 was simply a charade to disorient and demoralize Reagan while eating up the clock until the point was reached when Reagan would have no choice but to make the classic phone call to Bush.

It is obvious that Reagan offered the Vice Presidency to Ford, and that the latter refused to accept it outright, but engaged in a process of negotiations ostensibly in order to establish the conditions under which he might, eventually, accept. Casey called in Henry Kissinger and asked him to intercede with Ford. What then developed was a marathon of haggling in which Ford was represented by Kissinger, Alan Greenspan, Jack Marsh, and Bob Barrett. Reagan was represented by Casey, Meese, and perception-monger Richard Wirthlin. Dick Cheney, Ford's former chief of staff, also got into the act.

The strategy of Bush and Casey was to draw out the talks, running out the clock until Reagan would be forced to pick someone. Inside the negotiations, the Ford camp made demand after demand. Would Ford have a voice on foreign policy and defense? Would he be a member of the cabinet? Would he become the White House chief of staff? At the same time, leaks were made to the press about the negotiations and how sweeping constitutional issues were being haggled over in a classic smoke-filled room. These leaks became more and more embarrassing, making it easy to convince Reagan that his imnage was being tarnished, that he ought to call off the talks and pick Bush.

This complex strategy of intrigue culminated in Ford's notorious interview with Walter Cronkite, in which the CBS anchor man asked Ford if "It's got to be something like a co-presidency?" "That's something Governor Reagan really ought to consider," replied Ford, which was not what a serious vice presidential candidate might say, but did correspond rather well to what "Jerry the Jerk" would say if he wanted to embarass Reagan and help Bush. As for Cronkite, was it possible that his coining of the term "co-presidency" was stimulated by someone from Prescott Bush's old circles at CBS?

Bombarded by the media now with the "co-president" thesis, Reagan began to see foreshadowings of a public relations debacle. Television reporters began to hype an imminent visit by Reagan and Ford to the convention to present the "Dream Ticket." Meese was despatched to Kissinger to demand a straight answer from the Ford camp. "Kissinger told Meese that the Ford side might not be able to have an answer until the next morning, if then, because there were still many questions about how the arrangement might work." Reagan called Ford and asked for a prompt decision.

Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger concluded at this point: "Hey, we don't think this is going to work, and these guys are kind of stalling for time here." Nofziger suspected that Ford was trying to back Reagan into a corner, going down to the wire in a way that would oblige Reagan to take Ford and accept any conditions that Ford might choose to impose. But then Ford went to Reagan's hotel room to "give him my decision, and my decision is no." "As Ford left, Reagan wiped his brow and said, 'Now where the hell's George Bush?'" Reagan had been so fixated on his haggling with Ford that he had not done anything to develop vice presidential alternatives to Bush, and now it was too late.

The best indication that Ford had been working all along as an agent of Bush was provided by Ford himself to Germond and Witcover: "Ford, incidentially, told us after the election that one of his prime objectives at the convention had been 'to subtly help George Bush get the [vice-presidential] nomination.'"

Drew Lewis helped Reagan make the call that he found so distasteful. Reagan came on the line: "Hello, George, this is Ron Reagan. I'd like to go over to the convention and announce that you're my choice for vice preident...if that's all right with you."

"I'd be honored, Governor."

Reagan was still reluctant. "George, is there anything at all ...about the platform or anything else...anything that might make you uncomfortable down the road?"

"Why, yes, sir," said Bush "I think you can say I support the platform --wholeheartedly."

Reagan now proceeded to the convention floor, where he would announce this choice of Bush. Knowing that this decision would alienate many of Reagan's ideological backers, the Reagan campaign leaked the news that Bush had been chosen to the media, so that it would quickly spread to the convention floor. They were seeking to cushion the blow, to avoid mass expressions of disgust when Bush's name was announced. Even as it was, there was much groaning and booing among the Reagan faithful. (...)

by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin

28 comentarios:

octopusmagnificens dijo...

¿No fue en estas primeras en las que en un debate televisivo Reagan dijo que no utilizaría electoralmente la "edad" y la inexperiencia de su contrincante? Ese fue otro golpe muy bueno.

Cormac Milius dijo...

Je,je,me parece que eso lo dijo en el 84 frente a Mondale,pero da igual,les barrió a todos.Muy interesante el artículo,si lo complementas con el libro La revancha y la utopía.La nueva derecha americana, de Alain Finkielkraut(donde se estudia como los conservadores asimilaron las estrategias de penetración en la sociedad de la contracultura para la campaña del 80)comprendes los cambios de la época.

Cormac Milius dijo...

La verdad es que viéndolo con perspectiva asombra que Bush padre y los suyos creyeran que por ser la élite ya iban directos a WH. A lo mejor pensaban que la idea genial era esa mezcla de petimetre de New England mezclado con Texas the Biggest,lo mejor de dos mundos o algo asì.¿Hablaría con diferente acento según el lugar?Y lo de la sobreactuación yankee con Britain¿posible conexión con Thatcher?

octopusmagnificens dijo...

Ah sí sí, debió ser contra Mondale.

Antxon G. dijo...

Lo que dice octopusmagnificens fue en el 84 sí. Deshizo los cuestionamientos sobre su edad con una sóla afirmaicón. La afirmación fue esta: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

Y esto se lo dijo a un tipo de 55 años que había pasado media vida en el Congreso y un mandato como Vicepresidente xDDD

A Jimmy Carter en 1980 lo destrozó con una sóla frase. Cada vez que el presidente defendía su política doméstica, Reagan decía There you go again" ("y dale con lo mismo") Aquí está:

En cuanto a lo de Bush... siempre ha llamado la atención que un hombre que apenas tenía experiencia en cargos electos, pudiera estar considerado como uno de los front-runners en esa carrera. Es algo muy curioso porque Bush fue congresista durante 4 años me parece en los años 60, y después ya todos losc argos que ocupó erna por designación presidencial, embajador en la ONU, embajador en China, director de la CIA... y la úncia vez que itnentó rpesentarse al Senado en 1970 saliód errotado.

Por eso llama Muchísimo la atención que alguien sin apenas experiencia en ganar elecciones a pequeña escala y en el contacto con el electorado, estuviera tan bien considerado para esa elección presidencial. Lo cual hace sospechar que evidentemente utilizara las viejas redes de los Rockefeller y compañía para posicionarse como un candidato viable. De lo contrario no se explica. Ni siquiera era el ma´s destacado de los ex directores de la CIA. Ni mucho menos.

Está claro que toda suc arrera se construyo alrededor de las pdoerosas influencias y el enchufismod e su padre el ex Senador Prescott Bush. Sin ir más lejos, en 1968 estuvo considerado por Richard Nixon para ir de candidato a VP. Cuando apenas llevaba 2 años como congresista. Todo porque Prescott escribió a Nixon para que escogiera a su hijo, diciéndole que así ganaría Texas, entonces bastión demócrata.

La victoria de Reagan en als primarias de 1980 era en cierto modo algo lógico. El aparato tradicional del partido ya en el 76 había dado síntomas de debilidad en su apoyo a Ford., y por otra aprte, el público después del Watergate no tenía ningún interés en ir detrás de candidatos bien situados en Washington. Querían outsiders. Jimmy Carter ya era un outsider. Una experiencia fallida. Los republicanos escogeiron a su propio outsider con Reagan.

Y la elección de Bush para la vicepresidencia le sirvió para paaciguar a aquellos que le consideraban un imprudente incontrolable. Reagan fue inteligente y supo utilizar a muchos insiders para garantizarse el éxito en un mundo que no conocía. Y evitar que le ocurriera lo que a Jimmy Carter.

Por lo demás, la elección natural comoc andidato a VP para Reagan, la elección que él quería hacer, era el Senador Paul Laxalt. Un hijo de pastores vascos al que conocía desde que ambos eran Gobernadores de los estados vecinos de California y Nevada. Un hombre al que algún día le tengo que dedicar un post entero.

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