Tags: Presidential History | wilson | carter | kremlin | candidate

Names Are Not Always What They Seem

us president ronald reagan first inaugural
U.S. President Ronald Reagan (center) gives his inaugural speech after being sworn in as the 40th president of the United States during inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 20, 1981. Behind him is vice-president George W. Bush. (AFP via Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 17 March 2020 11:22 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The candidate had been dogged for months about his mental acuity, age and stamina.

Was he up to the job of being president, which, as many including Woodrow Wilson knew, was a stress-filled job? President Wilson had been put out of action while in office by a severe stroke due to the strain of running the world. That stroke partially paralyzed the man and debilitated the remainder of his presidency, and his wife, Edith, effectively ran the office until 1921 (she humbly called it a "stewardship").

The candidate been around the track twice before, trying for his party’s nomination.

But he’d lost both times.

And now, at his advance age, he was making one last grasp for the brass ring. He’d been on the national stage for years, but deep down few thought he had what it took to be leader of the free world.

His campaign staff all year had not performed well, missing many opportunities, stumbling, especially against a well-financed and impressive group of primary challengers.

One was self-funded and spent untold amounts, only to crash and burn early on with little to show for his quixotic mission, having neither message not momentum.

Still, he was on his way to the nomination.

Another more liberal primary challenger would not go away, did not engender must respect, and frankly irritated the candidate and others in the field. Even the candidate’s hair was often discussed and derided. Whispers were then made about it. In the left pocket of his suit jacket was often a neatly folded handkerchief.

His son was frequently a source of irritation and controversy, but the father stood loyally by him. Controversy would surround his son, as opponents on the other side of the aisle would use him as cannon fodder.

He’d been an enthusiastic admirer of Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and was one of the few politicians, along with Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina — a fire breathing conservative — to welcome the famed Russian dissident to the United States after the Kremlin had expelled him.

The candidate been a close friend of Helms for years and was sometimes criticized for this, as he was by the Washington kommentariat for welcoming Solzhenitsyn in the first place.

His campaign has bumbled along, often stubbing it toe over his mangled syntax and misstatements and his eventual and final opponent, the incumbent president, had little respect for him.

The incumbent himself has come out of nowhere four years earlier, beating again some impressive, more qualified and experienced primary challengers. The incumbent’s election was a shock, rattling the political world both intentionally and domestically.

The incumbent president, four years earlier, had run a decidedly unconventional campaign and had been literally an asterisk in the polls before winning his party’s nomination and then the presidency. Each time he went up in the national surveys, his critics dismissively said, "Well, he’s peaked."

The incumbent president’s men openly mocked the verbal miscues of the challenger, and in so doing, unwittingly lowered his expectations for a forthcoming debate, while unnecessary inflating those of the incumbent.

Yet he was seen as the vanguard of new political party, unscrambling the old and creaky alliance which had previously consumed the party. Unlike so many of his predecessors, the incumbent had no ties to Washington.

As a result, the incumbent was often attacked by Washington insiders and was confronting a national crisis that had potentially grave consequences for America.

But in November, on Election Day, the challenging candidate, despite the trail and the travails, in the end, triumphed, defying all the odds as he defeated Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States.

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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In November, on Election Day, the challenging candidate, despite the trail and the travails, in the end, triumphed, defying all the odds as he defeated Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States.
wilson, carter, kremlin, candidate
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2020-22-17
Tuesday, 17 March 2020 11:22 AM
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