October 18, 2004

What do you mean there was no Reagan Revolution?

In the third debate, John Kerry offered an interesting insight into his political mind:

like Franklin Roosevelt, I don't care whether an idea is a Republican idea or a Democrat idea. I just care whether it works for America and whether it's going to make us stronger.

I did a little political science experiment with John Kerry and the transcripts of the presidential debates to ask the question who does Kerry hold out as his political role model?

The answer was surprising, indeed.

Affirmative presidential citations by John Kerry in the 3 debates:

1. Ronald Reagan (8 citations)

2. tie---JFK and Bill Clinton (6 citations)

3. Franklin Roosevelt (3 citations)

4. Dwight Eisenhower (2 citations)

5. Harry S Truman (1 citation)

6. Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson...... you get the drift. (0 citations)

That's right: according to John Kerry, the president he looks on most authoritatively is Ronald Reagan.

The first debate featured three Reagan references: one in context of his antiterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, and one in context of building quality alliances. This quote was a twofer:

We need to be smarter about now we wage a war on terror. We need to deny them the recruits. We need to deny them the safe havens. We need to rebuild our alliances. I believe that Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, and the others did that more effectively, and I'm going to try to follow in their footsteps.

JFK was cited three times: once in the quote above, once in context glowingly of needing to gain the approval of Charles de Gaulle, and once in context of the test ban treaty.

The only other Democratic president to show up was FDR, only in the boneheaded response about FDR invading Mexico in retaliation for Pearl Harbor. Of course, FDR actually invaded Morocco, but that's another post. (Operation Torch anyone?)

In the second debate, a similar pattern was formed.

One reference authoritatively to JFK, Eisenhower, and Reagan on the subject of building alliances, combined with a mention positively on Reagan and Eisenhower on the subject of force structure of the military. Reagan was authoritatively mentioned two other times: once, in reference to Nancy Reagan on stem cell research, and once on....wait for it....wait for it.....disciplined fiscal policy.

Democrats? Besides the one mention of Jack Kennedy together with the Gipper and Ike, Clinton was dropped three times, once in reference to getting tough with North Korea, once on the the go-go stock market, and once on.....anybody? Bueller?.....getting tough on Saddam during Operation Desert Fox.

The third debate was the one where Kerry actually started citing, like, Democrats. Clinton was cited positively twice, once on affirmative action and once on gun control. JFK, FDR, and that great Democrat stalwart Ronald Reagan were again cited for their alliance building, while Reagan was separately cited for his role in......tax cuts and fiscal policy. FDR was cited for his pragmatism noted at the beginning, and JFK cited JFK on being Catholic.

The odd conclusion to this is that Jimmy Carter was completely absent, while Dwight Eisenhower---EISENHOWER!---passed J. Francois' lips more often than Harry Truman.

What would Adlai Stevenson think?

Posted by Steve at October 18, 2004 11:11 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?