No, Ronald Reagan Didn’t Launch His 1980 Campaign in Philadelphia, MS

RS: No, Ronald Reagan Didn’t Launch His 1980 Campaign in Philadelphia, MS

Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, left, moves through the crowd shaking hands at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi on Sunday, August 3, 1980. There crowd was estimated at 20,000. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)

One of the wearying things about arguing with liberal/progressives is that they never stop trying to rewrite history; a bogus claim that is debunked only stays debunked if you keep at debunking it year after year after year. So it is with the hardy perennial effort to tar the reputation of Ronald Reagan by claiming that his 1980 presidential campaign and subsequent two-term presidency was tainted from the outset by having kicked off his campaign with a speech about “states’ rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi – Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel was retailing this one on ABC’s Sunday show The Week just two weeks ago, trying to compare Reagan to Donald Trump:

There’s all this nostalgia about Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site for where three civil rights workers were killed by white supremacists.

There are many other sources that assert this as fact – see, for example, this Huffington Post column from April by Nicolaus Mills, Professor of American Studies, Sarah Lawrence College:

[I]n going to Patchogue, Long Island this coming Thursday to speak at a controversial Republican fundraiser, Trump is taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook. He’s following the path that Reagan took in 1980 when he began his presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Long Island? Forget it, he’s rolling. More examples from one presidential cycle to the next can be found from David Greenberg at Slate, William Raspberry in the Washington Post, Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert in the New York Times, and so on. Wikipedia even has a page for “Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair “states’ rights” speech”.

Where to begin? This particular canard has so many things wrong with it, I feel obligated to set them all down in sequence. Hopefully, doing so here should – at least for a little while – collect the context in one place.

Continue reading No, Ronald Reagan Didn’t Launch His 1980 Campaign in Philadelphia, MS

Remember Joseph Warren This Memorial Day

RS: Remember Joseph Warren This Memorial Day

In this age of debased political leadership, it is worth remembering this Memorial Day one of the Founding Fathers who gave his life on the field of battle: Doctor Joseph Warren, killed in action June 17, 1775 at Bunker Hill at the age of 34.Warren was a doctor, a man of learning and distinction in that era (he graduated from Harvard), but he was more than that: along with John Hancock and Samuel Adams, he was one of the inspirational leaders of the Sons of Liberty, the patriot group that led the Massachusetts rebellion against British authority that grew after Bunker Hill into a national war for independence.  Warren was there at the creation: he was on the field of battle at Lexington and Concord, and it was he who dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes to raise the minutemen with the news that “the British are coming!” (possibly due to information from the wife of British General Gage – perhaps one of Warren’s intelligence sources; some sources speculate that Warren may have had an affair with her, although this remains unproven).  He was responsible for dispatching Benedict Arnold to take Fort Ticonderoga; Arnold did not do so alone, but the capture of the fort would prove indispensable later on to breaking the seige of Boston when its guns were towed there by Henry Knox in March 1776.

Warren had every reason to seek safety, being the widowed father of four, but instead sought the most dangerous location on the Bunker Hill field of battle and fought in the ranks until he ran out of ammunition, at which point he was shot in the head and his body hacked to pieces by redcoats with bayonets.  His body was not discovered by his brothers until the following April, after the siege of Boston was raised, and identified by Revere by dental analysis.

This Is Not 1980, And Donald Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan

RS: This Is Not 1980, And Donald Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan

Every piece of evidence we have about the 2016 general election and the world around us points in the same direction: if nominated, Donald Trump would lose, and likely lose badly. The fact that Trump has defied expectations in the primary and survived numerous incidents (seemingly almost daily) that would end any other political career has given pundits and analysts an almost superstitious, gunshy awe of predicting failure for him – thus the “lol nothing matters” response you often get when you discuss both Trump’s obvious, glaring weaknesses and his pitiably weak standing in the polls. But the one straw commonly grasped by Trump supporters when confronted by the evidence is Gallup’s polling from early 1980 showing that Ronald Reagan was some 30 points behind Jimmy Carter, who of course he went on to demolish in the fall.
The Gallup 1980 polls are a weak analogy, for several reasons.

Continue reading This Is Not 1980, And Donald Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan