Tags: Reagan | Johnson | FDR | landslide

Author Darman Looks at Landslides

By    |   Monday, 27 Oct 2014 07:50 AM

With the 2016 election season heating up, author Jonathan Darman, former political correspondent for Newsweek, appeared at the home of FDR to look back at landslides that took place 50 years ago. His book Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America contends that LBJ's landslide win in 1964 and Ronald Reagan's election to the governorship in California in 1966 were pivotal events that influenced the course of American in the wake of the assassination of JFK in 1963.

Also, one might ask what he thinks about the other landslides that occurred during the period, Nixon's landslide victory over George McGovern in 1972 that was quickly followed by his resignation in disgrace in 1974, and Reagan's landslide victory re-election in 1984, carrying every state but Walter Mondale's home state of Minnesota, followed by a typical floundering second term marked by the Iran-Contra scandal and boarding by a damage control team of RINO to augment those who already infested the Reagan administration.

Darman was introduced by Jack Rosenthal, interim director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, who speculated that the Roosevelts would be fascinated by both sides of the conversation that was about to take place. The interviewer was the famous political observer Sam Tanenhaus, who has worked at The New York Times as an op-ed editor and as editor of both the Book Review and the Week in Review and author of both a biography of Whittaker Chambers and a book on the death of conservatism and is now "inching along" on a biography of William F. Buckley, who also wrote a landmark biography of Chambers called Witness. One wonders why he felt the need to write that biography after Buckley had done one, but it must have been a good reason.

As a touchstone for his presentation, Darman pointed out that Johnson and Reagan, despite their association with different political philosophies, were contemporaries born less than three years apart who both idolized FDR. He characterized their different reactions to FDR as Johnson trying to re-create FDR by creating as many programs to help people as he could, where Reagan took away the extraordinary ability to communicate with people he didn't know. (This writer's view is that Reagan ended up, with the help of Tip O'Neill, as a big spending pump primer who, despite his conservative rhetoric, never strayed far from his liberal roots.)

Tanenhaus added that Reagan had protested that he was misunderstood as someone who wanted to roll back the New Deal when actually he just wanted to roll back the Great Society. He then asked Darman to elaborate on what might be a common thread besides the admiration of FDR. Darman argued that the course of politics changed when Johnson's drive to prove that government could be the salvation of millions of people in need created the opportunity for Reagan to make the case that government is itself the problem and not the solution.

This writer would take issue with the notion that anything fundamentally changed, but this event offers an opportunity for readers and viewers to reflect on this persistent and important question.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
With the 2016 election season heating up, author Jonathan Darman, former political correspondent for Newsweek, appeared at the home of FDR to look back at landslides that took place 50 years ago.
Reagan, Johnson, FDR, landslide
529
2014-50-27
Monday, 27 Oct 2014 07:50 AM
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