In a column at the Weekly Standard website, former New York Times columnist Bill Kristol opines that “assuming that presidential field remains as it is” for the GOP, “2012 won’t be a repeat of 1980”. He is referring to the election of Ronald Reagan after Jimmy Carter’s single term in the White House.
The column itself is a semi-rhapsodic invocation of what is apparently to Kristol a sacred date, “November 4, 1980, the instant when we knew Ronald Reagan, the man who gave the speech in the lost cause of 1964, leader of the movement since 1966, derided by liberal elites and despised by the Republican establishment, the moment when we knew—he’d won, we’d won, the impossible dream was possible, the desperate gamble of modern conservatism might pay off, conservatism had a chance, America had a chance”.
Kristol quotes a passage from William Faulkner’s 1948 novel, Intruder in the Dust which says for a certain species of Southern teenager, it is permanently the eve of the battle of Gettysburg, the high-water mark of the Confederate effort in the Civil War. Kristol casts the Southern struggle in 1863 as that of the American conservative, the victory in 1980 forming a kind of bulwark in their ongoing war to win out “over decadent liberalism”.
Many on the right are dreaming that the next presidential election will return the country to Republican rule, but Kristol’s column appears to pour cold water on those hopes. “(W)e’re not going to have a chance to replay that election,” he says, with the current crop of candidates, in spite of the fact that he refers to President Obama as “an icompetent incumbet”.
These candidates are going to be the only ones the Republicans have, however. The filing deadlines for the primary elections in Florida and South Carolina were October 31 and November 1, respectively.
image by Gage Skidmore, via WikiMedia Commons