Tuesday, June 08, 2004

What if Reagan [had] won in 1968?

Enter Stage Right's Bruce Walker poses the question, and thinks that Reagan would have won the election handily and been a good president.

I'm not sure that is the case. Here's why.

1) As The Making Of The President 1968 documents, Barry Goldwater was working hard for Richard Nixon in 1968. He was making the sort of "Just win [with Nixon], baby" arguments that are often so seductive to conservatives. Lots of conservatives had a great personal trust in Senator Goldwater that would have been hard to shake off.

The right was uneasy about Reagan's governing strategies in California in 1968. Read Kent Steffgen's books on Reagan to understand why.

2) It was not really credible to suggest that someone who had been governor of California for just over 18 months could be the a good President. Someone who had governed California for two terms is a different matter entirely.

Ronald Reagan's on-the-job political education would make him a much better president in the 1980s, when he served.