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Why did Ted Kennedy run in 1980?

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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 01:30 AM
Original message
Why did Ted Kennedy run in 1980?
Please understand that this is not a Ted Kennedy-bashing thread nor is it meant to be any reference to anything happening now with the Obama Administration. I love Ted Kennedy -he's one of the truly progressive liberal bastions of the party who has done so much good for the nation and the world during his lifetime. I'm devastated that he's so ill now and I dread to think what will happen when he's gone.

But I've always been curious about this. Why did he chose to seek the presidency against an incumbent Democratic President in 1980? Any other election year he could probably have had the nomination on a silver platter. In 1968 there is evidence to suggest that Democratic powerbrokers, including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, were trying to draft him as an alternative to Hubert Humphrey. 1972 may have been difficult for him because it was straight after the fallout from Chappaquiddick but he probably would have been a frontrunner in 1976 had he decided to run.

Yet instead he chose to run in an election where the odds were overwhelmingly against him. President Carter had much of the traditional Democratic establishment on his side, he had the advantage of incumbency and he had a national security crisis which (in its earlier stages) worked in his favor. Why did Kennedy choose to run at that time?
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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 01:39 AM
Response to Original message
1. Even Ted didn't know the answer
to that question.

His defining moment in that ill-conceived run was when a TV newsguy - I don't remember which one - asked Ted why he wanted to be President, and Ted sat there, mute and blank.

He had no answer. That was where it ended for him.............................
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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:39 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. Was that Roger Mudd of CBS?
I've read Bob Shrum's autobiography and one or two other books about the Kennedy brothers in general and that interview has come up where he stuttered and stumbled all over the place.
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Tangerine LaBamba Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #7
18. I think it was Mudd -
Yes, that's who it was, I'm almost certain.

Good catch. Thanks....................
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DefenseLawyer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #7
19. Well there you have it.
He was taking advice from Bob Shrum.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 04:15 AM
Response to Original message
2. I didn't even remember that he ran in '80, and I have a pretty good memory for elections,
all the way back to my first presidential election, in which I voted for the "peace candidate" (LBJ).

(Sorry. It's seared into my memory.) (Beware of Democrats bearing peace!)

(Party loyalist here. Never voted for a Puke in my life. So there.)

Now then, Teddy. Why are you asking this question?

That's my main comment. Why are you asking this question? (It's not a hostile question.)

A guess: Teddy saw Jimmy Carter's demise coming? Saw what the Reagan thugs were doing? Thought the Kennedy name could possibly head off the Democratic Party's defeat? Or, wanted to lean Carter to the left, to counter the corpo/fascist face smashing and kneecappings he was being subjected to? Maybe couldn't believe (as I still find it hard to believe) that the American people would vote for Ronnie Raygun, maybe the worst actor Hollywood ever produced, and a fucking McCarthyite on top of everything else, and wanted to help set the agenda for Carter's second term?

Why does it matter to you?

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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:35 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. I'm asking this question because it has troubled me for a long time
As I said, I like Ted Kennedy but am extremely confused as to why he chose to run. It has just been at the back of my mind since goodness knows when so I decided to put it out there and see if anyone had any ideas

Thanks for your response and the other responses on this thread :hi:
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Yupster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #6
28. I was an exchange student in Austria at the time
and the Austrians were interested in the race, but they didn't understand the preimary system too well.

They kept asking me who would win the presidency Carter or Kennedy. They mostly all liked Kennedy. I kept telling them Reagan would win, and they just looked perplexed. Little did they know that by the time I left, they'd learn to hate Reagan and wear those little "Neklear, Nein Danke" happy face buttons.
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saltpoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 04:19 AM
Response to Original message
3. Carter was an admired man more than an admired president among
many traditional coalition Democrats. Kennedy was seen by many as closer to the faultline of what a Democrat was.

I supported Kennedy in that primary challenge. Even after it seemed clear that Carter would retain the nomination, and even after it also seemed as if 1980 was going to be a Republican year.

I don't blame Jimmy Carter for not being a Kennedy Democrat, but I prefered the Kennedy Democrat.

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Mudoria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 04:20 AM
Response to Original message
4. Ego probably had something to do with it..
Also the fact that his brothers both ran and perhaps he felt a little inner pressure to measure up to them. Maybe he felt he could do a better a job than Carter who was crippled by the economy at the time.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:32 AM
Response to Original message
5. For a number of reasons.
Probably some of the best information can be found in the book of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s "Journals."

First, there were serious divisions in the democratic party. In fact, it was those divisions that had allowed for Carter to become the candidate for president in 1976. As president, Carter's actions did not work towards healing the wounds. Quite the opposite.

Second, one of Cater's beliefs, post-Watergate, was that there was a need to reduce the power of the "Imperial Presidency." His actions were based on the theory that the US required a strong Congress. While good in theory, that did not translate well. This was due to his poor relationship with the still powerful "Kennedy wing" of the party, which had a significant share of power in Washington in general, and in Congress.

The result was that while Jimmy Carter was a decent man, his presidency was viewed by many as unfocused and weak. It's important to remember that the Jimmy Carter of today is not the same fellow that was in the White House in the late '70s. Many democrats were concerned that he would lose the '80 election to any strong republican contender. And, in fact, he lost to Reagan, who was not viewed as being among the strongest -- in fact, when he won the republican nomination, the Carter White House was relieved, because they did not think Reagan could ever be elected.
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JCMach1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:42 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. Carter as a political moderate (seems funny to think that now!)
Edited on Tue Aug-18-09 05:42 AM by JCMach1
often tried to bridge that gap between the Northern more liberal wing of the party and the Southern more typically moderate/conservative wing of the party. He wasn't so successful with that!

The Northern liberal wing (think Kennedy and Tip O'Neill)found Carter's moderate populism particularly distasteful. Add to that Carter's leadership style (over-working, detail oriented, policy wonk) and you have Kennedy's run in 1980 where here came within a sliver of taking the nomination.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:57 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. From the Kennedy wing's
perspective, there was disappointment that Carter largely ignored them, both as a candidate and as President. Arthur's journals are fascinating in this respect, because he details the "off the record" discussions that went on among the various members of that wing.

In my opinion, one of the best things Carter did was select Mondale for VP. However, the journals suggest that Mondale was frustrated in that position (I know -- rare for a VP to feel this way), and that his access to the Oval Office was restricted, and his influence small.

Another of the things they found distasteful was what they viewed as Carter's putting his religion in office. And, finally, they found him to be hard to relate to when they did have opportunity to meet privately with him.

These, of course, are the points that are made in Arthur's journals, and some other sources, rather than my own impressions.
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JCMach1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 06:22 AM
Original message
You are exactly right... Carter was way too often on his own page
Edited on Tue Aug-18-09 06:22 AM by JCMach1
i.e. hated consulting congress.

You are right there was real resentment over evangelical visitors to the WH, jeans and BBQ.

Carter was always just what you saw and heard... never a poser.

In some positions too much of that can be a bad thing...
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ParkieDem Donating Member (417 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #11
20. He should have run in 1976
Teddy would have had a much better chance in 1976 without an incumbent Dem, but since his brother-in-law jumped in the race, I guess that made it awkward.

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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 07:25 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. I think many saw Carter as a conservative Democrat not a moderate
It might have mattered where the viewer was on the political scale. I notice that you mention the "Southern more typically moderate/conservative wing" yet refer to the Northern more liberal wing. I saw many Northern politicians as moderate and virtually all Southern ones as conservative. So, I think it's a matter of perspective.

I suspect that the reason had much to do with Kennedy's assumption that he would run at some point and the perception that Carter was in danger of losing the general election. Given that 10, mostly liberal Senators also lost, it might have been that there was an overwhelming shift occurring pushing the country to the right and that that accounted for much of the negative perceptions of Carter.
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JCMach1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-19-09 04:12 AM
Response to Reply #14
29. I think it was ultimately the Iranian hostages that did it...
Edited on Wed Aug-19-09 04:13 AM by JCMach1
In that year, the right-ward groundswell was more nationalist-based than ideological.

People (for whatever damn reason) saw Reagan as 'bringing America back'...

I remember good labor Democrats using the phrase 'hold my nose and vote for Reagan'... Those were the people who became the 'Reagan Democrats'... :(
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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:44 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. Thank you very much for that -it was very illuminating
Edited on Tue Aug-18-09 05:46 AM by RFKHumphreyObama
Coincidentally, I ordered a copy of the Arthur Schlesinger book you referenced from Amazon a few weeks ago but it still hasn't arrived as of yet. When it comes, I'll read it and hopefully it will provide some further insight

And that's an interesting take on the Carter presidency, I was not born until eleven days before Carter left power so obviously I remember none of it. I have had read some biographies of Carter that do allude to his flaws such as what was mentioned above but I obviously need to do some more research in this area
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 06:03 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. It's one of
the best books that I've read in years. I've long found AS to be one of the very best historians, and so I have a good collection of his works. I was aware that some people in Washington, DC, found him to be at times annoying, because he was prone to the art of political gossiping. In is major works, of course, he rarely included anything of that nature. But his sons allowed the journals, published after his death, to include some outrageous (in the best sense) material.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 05:48 AM
Response to Original message
10. There wasn't as strong a norm that Democrats don't run against incumbent presidents
Edited on Tue Aug-18-09 05:56 AM by HamdenRice
In fact, Kennedy's disastrous primary challenge of Carter, which weakened Carter's re-election chances, is largely responsible for the norm that no one in the party is supposed to run against the incumbent president.

Carter was very unpopular with the left wing of the party on 2 issues. First, Carter proposed drastic increases in defense spending, and in particular a nuclear weapons system called the MX Missile. It's hard to believe, considering Carter's reputation now, but he was hawkish on nuclear weapons, having been a nuclear sub commander. The MX was seen as both a boondoggle and highly destabilizing of the nuclear balance of power with the Soviets. MX was basically a proposal for a mobile nuclear system that would constantly travel around the country on trains and trucks. Everyone on the left hated it, not just because of the expense, but because it meant that nuclear weapons would be cruising around our neighborhoods and highways. Here's a hawkish statement by Carter announcing the MX as well as dramatic increases in nuclear weapons spending:

Carter was also unpopular because of his budget priorities. He was basically a deficit cutter, and required all social programs to justify every dollar of spending under an accounting system called "zero based budgeting." Again, given the military spending increases he was proposing, zero based budgeting seemed quite reactionary.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 06:22 AM
Response to Original message
13. There were several factors
1. The Iranian Hostage Crisis. The Carter Administration was helpless to stop Khomeini from returning from Paris to Tehran and take over his country from the Shah. Carter couldn't allow the Shah to return to his country, our personnel was taken prisoner indefinitely in Tehran, their rescue by helicopter was an abysmal failure, America lost status in the world and within the country because of it. Carter's lack of results was interpreted as "hiding behind the rose garden".

2. The economy. There was inflation and the interest rates were double-digit, stifling business. And instead of being upbeat and optimistic about improving the economy, Carter had fireside chats, extoling Americans to pull on their cardigans and turn down the heat. That didn't sit well with Americans who were used to unlimited supply of anything. There was both a financial and psychological malaise.

3. Reagan as the potential republican nominee. I think the dems panicked and were worried about losing seats in Congress and there was a schism amongst them. There was an assumption that a "Kennedy" (any Kennedy) could save the country and could defeat RR.

Plus, Teddy was groomed to take over his brothers' legacies and the time was supposed to be 1980. He was more progressive than Carter so he had that appeal and generally the public had enough of Carter. They wanted a new brand but something familiar.

Enter Ted Kennedy.
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Freddie Stubbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 07:31 AM
Response to Original message
15. He may not have run in 1968 out of fear of what had happened to his brothers
He may not have run in 1976 because he believed that Chappaquiddick was still too big of an issue. But in 1980 the issue could be the failure of Jimmy Carter, rather than Ted Kennedy. He may have hoped to get by on anti-Carter sentiment alone.
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QC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 07:34 AM
Response to Original message
16. The Washington establishment considered Carter an interloper,
a hayseed who had come to a town that wasn't his and acted like he was somebody important.

Sound familiar?
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WeCanWorkItOut Donating Member (182 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 07:43 AM
Response to Original message
17. Health care inflation was doing a lot of harm then
Two major causes of inflation in the 70s were increases in health costs and the oil crises.

NHE: National Health Expenditures (Source: University of South Carolina, Samuel Baker)

A major driver of medical inflation was Medicare legislation
that was flawed because LBJ had compromised too much.

Anyway, a concern about health care might have played a role in Kennedy's
decision to run. Perhaps if the problem had only been the cost of oil
or a food crisis, he might have just gone with Carter.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 11:03 AM
Response to Original message
21. I voted for Ted Kennedy back then because I was so disappointed
with Carter. He'd promised so much, then seemed to back down on every issue.
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Zomby Woof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
22. Party factions at work
Carter himself has said it was the liberal wing of the congressional Democrats which gave him more trouble than most of the Republicans (and keep in mind, there were many more moderate Republicans back then, even as Reagan was rising). Carter was not adept at working with Congress, and when the liberals revolted, they left him hanging. Kind of the inverse of now, where the conservative Democrats are hamstringing Obama.

Kennedy was at that time, attempting to come out of the shadow of his big brothers, and trying to overcome the taint of Chappaquiddick. He was now the de facto leader of the liberals in the Senate, and the most outspoken critic of Carter of all the Democrats in either house of Congress. His decision to run against him was motivated partly out of desperation to prove he was his own person (the 'shadow' factor), partly because as a Kennedy, it was expected of him (noblesse oblige), and partly to consolidate his senatorial base in opposition to Carter and most of his policies. He felt Carter was too moderate (despite the fact that Carter was a pro-civil rights southern Democrat, which made him liberal in ways Kennedy failed to understand at the time).

Still, incumbency is a powerful tool, and Kennedy found out not only that, but that the liberal wing of the party was not destined to be its majority in Congress. The Reagan and Bush Sr. years allowed him to mature, and learn the finer arts of conciliation and compromise which are indispensable in the legislative craft.

Disclosure: I became a political junkie in 1980, and followed all of this closely, at the ripe old age of 13. My older sister was a volunteer with Carter's re-election campaign in Virginia. Despite his slim chances of re-election, and slimmer chances of winning Virginia, she fought for who and what she believed. It was the first time I followed campaigns so closely, and began to understand factional politics in both parties.
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Jennicut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 12:23 PM
Response to Original message
23. Very interesting comments from everyone here. I was born in '75 so I don't
remember anything about Carter at all. In 1980 I was all of five. I had no idea Carter had so many troubles with his own party.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
24. This thread has refreshed my memory and opened an old and deep wound.
Edited on Tue Aug-18-09 03:47 PM by Peace Patriot
If you had asked me, before I read this OP, which election or elections Ted Kennedy had run for president in, I would not have been able to say 1980 against Carter, but now I remember.

It was only 12 years, at that point, from the second Kennedy assassination--of Robert, just as he had won the California primary and was clearly on the road to the White House. One of Robert Kennedy's primary opponents had been Eugene McCarthy, whom I voted for in the California primary because he was the one who had stood up and challenged LBJ on the Vietnam War (early on, in New Hampshire--driving the incumbent LBJ out of the race). RFK had been more cautious, more political about it--gauging his chances. I knew that RFK would win California and go on to the White House. He was as charismatic as his brother John, and was riding a wave of American revulsion at the Vietnam War and an amazing American awakening on social justice. I voted for McCarthy to "send RFK" a message to keep his word about ending the war. I think now that he would have, and that's why...

Bang, bang, shoot, shoot.

Please read James Douglass' book, "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters." He makes an overwhelming case that the CIA assassinated JFK and the issue was war. JFK was initially a typical "Cold Warrior" but soon began to change as he faced the awful reality of nuclear warfare. He was the first and only president who faced that decision--who came within a hairsbreadth of "pushing the button." The Joint Chiefs believed they had the advantage of Russia on nuclear weapons in 1962 (during the Cuban Missile Crisis) and very much wanted to use them, and angrily pressured JFK to do so. They thought that hundreds of thousands of casualties here would be a 'win' because Russia would be totally annihilated. JFK refused and made his own deal with Krushchev, pulling US missiles out of Turkey, to avoid Armageddon. He opened back-channels to Krushchev and Castro, to get around CIA/Pentagon warmongering. The CIA was meanwhile instigating a proxy war in Vietnam. JFK had sought to counter the CIA after the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, early in his term. He vowed to smash the CIA "into a thousand pieces" after the Bay of Pigs, and fired the CIA Director. To counter the CIA in Vietnam, he began seeking neutral status for Vietnam, like Laos, with the CIA sabotaging him every step of the way. He was also the first president to propose limitations on nuclear weapons (the Test Ban Treaty), again totally opposed by the Joint Chiefs and the CIA.

Bang, bang, shoot, shoot.

JFK had been counting on a big win--the American peoples' desire for world peace--in 1964, to finally deal with the CIA and the war profiteers. And he was not wrong. After he was killed, the American people gave LBJ one of the biggest landslides in history, in 1964, running as the "peace candidate." (Oh God, the bitter memories!) (That was my first vote for president. I voted for peace.)

RFK was his brother's only ally within the top echelons of the US government on the matter of world peace. (I did not know this when I voted for McCarthy in the 1968 California primary.) The American people wanted peace. It was too late. The "military-industrial complex"--which Ike warned about--was already entirely out of control, and assassinated a president and a presidential candidate, to enforce their will. And we have been an increasingly nazified, war-mongering country ever since.

Douglass is a doing a trilogy. His second book is going to be on RFK. And I think he is going to say that the CIA assassinated RFK as well. The RFK assassination was more cunning. The JFK assassination had CIA fingerprints all over it. (Really, the case is shut--they did it.) RFK's murder has more mystery to it, and is much harder to penetrate. (My guess: the CIA learned more about how to create adequate cover within the US, in the five years between the two assassinations.) But the timing of the RFK assassination could not speak more eloquently of the motive and the perpetrators. He was "JFK on steroids" from their point of view.

We were at THE critical juncture in the history of war and peace, and in the history of our country, when RFK was assassinated: Would the American people consent to becoming the new Nazis--the militarized global empire that Hitler dreamed of--or would we fulfill our promise of democracy, generosity and peace, so evidently within our power as the victors of WW II? Would JFK's "new generation of leadership" turn back the monster of war, and seek a world of fair competition, and even some cooperation, between the capitalist and communist systems, and would the US recognize legitimate aspirations for social justice in countries like Cuba and Vietnam (as JFK evidently privately wished), or would we become...?

The Bush Junta, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent people to steal their oil...

1968: Bang, bang, shoot, shoot.

Yup, they did RFK too.

Twelve years later, when Ted Kennedy challenged Carter--whom I viewed as one of the "acceptable" Democrats, like Humphrey, who had resigned themselves to the "US as war machine"--we were a bitter people, with these profoundly disturbing wounds inside of us, of both of our best leaders having been assassinated, and their murders covered up, because the assassins were within our own government. Most of us had not quite made this reality conscious. We were a sick people, in many respects--like individuals in families with covered up secrets. And I remember now that I thought Teddy Kennedy shouldn't run, because he would be assassinated and we just couldn't take any more. Martin Luther King had also been assassinated a few months before RFK (that will be Douglass' third book). Bang, bang, shoot, shoot x 3. All dead.

I may have voted for Teddy in the primaries in 1980. I can't recall. I probably did. (Was he still in the race by the California primary? Memory blank.) I was bewildered and alienated (though I never stopped voting). And, looking back on the events in 1980, from the perspective of post-Bush Junta, I can only figure that the corpo/fascists who now run our government, not yet having the capability to directly miscount our votes with 'TRADE SECRET,' PROPRIETARY programming code throughout an electronic voting system, with no audit/recount controls--as they have now--used all their other powers over us to destroy even a mildly progressive government such as Carter's, in order to begin the Great Looting (Reaganism), which preceded the Great March To Corporate Resource Wars (Bushwhackism). I think Carter's demise was wholly manipulated--by the far rightwing, through the oil corps, the financial corps, the 'news' monopolies and the Pentagon (which permitted Reagan's thugs to commit goddamn treason in Iran--bargaining with the Iranians to keep hold of the US hostages until after the 1980 election). And we must also not forget Reagan's reign of terror in Latin America--which included the slaughter of two hundred thousand Mayan villagers in Guatemala, in addition to the wars on Nicaragua and El Salvador and other "dirty wars." I don't think Jimmy Carter--clearly a man with a conscience--would have let all that happen.

Part of my judgement of how Carter was ousted derives from Carter's activities since 1980. It's hard to see politicians through the thick fog of the corpo/fascist press. Out of the limelight, he has shown some amazing visionary qualities. For instance, the Carter Center's work on honest elections in Latin America has been one of the transformative elements of the region. It has resulted in the present, amazing reality: leftist governments elected in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay (!), Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. So, thinking back to why Carter got "rabbited" by the corpo/fascist press (rather like "Swift-boating" or "scream taping"--obsessive focus on irrelevant issues or incidents, to destroy a progressive leader; Carter said he encountered a giant rabbit while he was on vacation fishing--and the corpo/fascist press went wild), it was likely because of this tendency of Carter's to promote good government, with the rich and corporate lusting after the Great Looting, which requires bad government.

In short, I had lost hope by the time Teddy Kennedy ran against Carter in 1980. There were still a few good guys in our government--Teddy was one; and others in Congress (those who did investigations of Iran/Nicaragua, and the banking scandals, or who investigated and debunked the "lone gunman" bullshit about the JFK assassination). But I, like everyone else, was brainwashed into thinking that the American people had "chosen" Ronnie Raygun as president--which just added to my state of depression and alienation. I no longer believe that, after seeing how the corpo/fascist press covered up Bush Jr.'s election thefts. I think Ronnie Raygun's 'election' was as manipulated as Bush Jr's in 2000 (pre-'TRADE SECRET' code voting systems). With the power to "Swift-boat" and to "scream tape," and the EASY power, now, to directly miscount the votes, they don't have to assassinate good leaders. Good leaders cannot be elected here (except for a few tokens) unless they agree to corpo/fascist rule and the Forever War. We are seeing that with Obama (whom I think won by a bigger margin than we know, on the issue of the Iraq War, and also on the projection of hope onto him of real reform, whose mandate was shaved to curtail his reformist tendencies, and who was vetted by the Corporate Rulers and made deals with them in order not to be Diebolded. One of the deals was immunity for the Bush Junta principles. Another may have been giving Clinton and the Bushwhacks a free hand in Latin America, where they are setting up Oil War II.)

By 1980, I and my country's political establishment were at very great odds. I had lost my country by that time, and it was little more than a curiosity to me that Teddy Kennedy was running for president. Why would he do that, and be killed? --I remember wondering. John Lennon was assassinated that year--late 1980. The door on change had closed. We were now a venal, greedy, bloodthirsty, militaristic empire. Our great opportunity to be something better was over.

I am an American patriot. I love my country and its people and our greatest ideals of democracy and social justice very, very much. I think we are the greatest experiment in democracy that has ever occurred, with our astonishing mix of cultures abiding in peace together, across this vast landscape. But I have been in a state of trauma, from all of those assassinations, all these years. Two things have begun to heal me. One is James Douglass' book on JFK, which directly addresses the spiritual wound to our country of that assassination. The other is the heartening success of the leftist democracy movement in Latin America. I am grateful to Carter for his part in that. That is likely among the reasons he was ousted. He wanted peace with Latin America. Another was the peace he brokered in the Middle East. But the main one was the preliminary to the Forever War--destroying the great, progressive American middle class, and utterly devastating the poor--by the Great Looting. On our backs now, from the Great Looting, we have no defenses against the "military-industrial complex." They can do with us as they will. They even achieved direct, 'TRADE SECRET' control of our vote counting system! Obama is out, in case you were wondering. And the next war will be against South America, for their oil.

Unless we rise up peacefully, like the South Americans are doing, and reclaim our democracy.

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SemiCharmedQuark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
25. Thanks for posting this. I was born in the Reagan administration and I often wonder how we ended up
there. Blah.

There are a lot of heartfelt stories here that I am enjoying. Thanks for asking the question.
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Hidden Stillness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 11:00 PM
Response to Original message
26. Kennedy was Trying to Save the Party, and the Country, from Corporate Conservatism
I don't know why Kennedy ran exactly that year as opposed to another, but I will try to recall the general atmosphere, as explanation. First, some of your premises are wrong: "the odds were overwhelmingly against him," I remember clearly a strong attitude of people waiting for Kennedy to run, and a feeling that the Presidency would have been won easily any time Kennedy wanted it; "President Carter had much of the traditional Democratic establishment on his side," as a matter of fact, the Party was badly split at that time, and many people wanted the economically conservative Carter out. Carter also arrogantly made members of Congress come to the White House at the early meetings, rather than the traditional President-going-to-Congress, and that offended many people, because it was so odd.

Carter was a trickle-down, corporate-tax-cutting, deregulating, anti-union President, a real disappointment to those who wanted Democrats back in the White House after Watergate. I remember many comments about lowering taxes, "free markets," not turning to Government for help--even as the unemployment rate jumped, inflation got worse, and there were returns of long gas lines. Carter was not a populist by any "New Deal" type sense, and was as anti-worker as Clinton later was. One quote from Carter, ("The Politics of Rich and Poor," Kevin Phillips, p. 48-49), was "Government cannot solve our problems. It can't set our goals. It cannot define our vision. Government cannot eliminate poverty, or provide a bountiful economy, or reduce inflation or save our cities." Carter cut capital gains taxes, deregulated, began the shift of Social Security funding from income taxes (the rich), to increased payroll taxes (middle class and poor). Carter did not support union protections, strikes, safety regulations, and Kennedy was a champion of unions and workers, against management. Carter was a "new type of Democrat," before the Clinton lobbyist "D"LC gave that phrase such a manacing meaning.

Carter pretended to be a "peanut farmer," if you will recall, like a small-time family farm, but actually ran a huge factory-farm agribusiness, and was always on the side of corporate interests; a real corporate conservative who did nothing active with Government to help the worsening economy. Arthur Schlesinger accused Carter then of "an eccentric effort to carry the Democratic Party back to Grover Cleveland," the horrific corporate conservative of the Gilded Age.

Ted Kennedy was and is the great liberal, union champion, middle class supporter over corporate/management interests, the fighter for universal medical care--and Carter was killing everything, not using Government to help people, and losing union support. Kennedy, who would famously also hate the Clinton-corporate crowd controlling the Party, possibly could tell what was coming. Carter arranged for some arcane Party rules to be changed, making it harder for a challenger to get the nomination, but I can't remember now which change it was. This was publicly known then and a few years ago when PBS did a documentary on Carter. Carter was a conservative and many people couldn't stand it anymore, and Ted Kennedy would have been a great President; and has been since, one of the greatest Senators.

Why did Ted Kennedy run for President, 1980? Because many people, among them me and my family, wanted Kennedy for President.

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-19-09 05:17 AM
Response to Reply #26
31. thanks for that. i had great hopes for carter (mostly based on hunter thompson's rec,
i was very naive at the time) & he was a disappointment, but i'd forgotten some of the reasons why.

later, after he'd left office, i worked on an international environmental conference where i was aide to someone trying to get carter to speak.

i was disillusioned again to see how large the fees were (double my yearly income at the time for a stupid 5 minute speech which wound up being delivered via tv) & how hard-line the negotiations were.

despite carter's public good works since, i've not liked the guy.
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Naturyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-18-09 11:04 PM
Response to Original message
27. Could Kennedy have beaten Reagan?
I think maybe he could have. Think about how different this country might be if that had happened...
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-19-09 05:01 AM
Response to Original message
30. I think carter didn't have an independent power base; he was the front man
Edited on Wed Aug-19-09 05:08 AM by Hannah Bell
for a set of interests who wanted certain things done. we forget that carter initiated the rollback of new deal policies ("neoliberalism," "third way") that's continued from the right (pubs) & from the left (dems) to the present day. also the seeds of our present involvement in afghanistan, anti-soviet arms build-up

the kennedy family had an independent power base (history, money, connections & political chits to call in, name recognition, & catholics), a base that's been under attack & dissipated since jfk.

i see kennedy's 1980 run in that light.

Brzezinski's trajectory (advising or being in admin of dem pres from kennedy to carter, then moving right to endorse bush 1 in 1988, then moving left to endorse obama) is interesting too.

also this:

"Edward Kennedy challenged President Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination, and at the convention Kennedy's delegates loudly booed Brzezinski."

also that foreign policy wonks Kissinger & Brzezinski, one associated mostly with pubs, the other mostly with dems, are both closely linked to the Rockefellers.

hard to tell what the story is behind the scenes. it just seems to me the kennedy nexus isn't quite on the same page with the sponsors of the "left" carters/clintons/obamas (presidents who came to office without the extensive political histories of people like e.g. johnson or humphrey or even ed muskie).

otoh, they don't seem to be on the same page with the "right" reaganites or bush people either.

& these days, the "left" & "right" pages seem different mostly at the margins; left = gay marriage/abortion, right = god, guns, no gays.

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