Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Giant Sucking Sound of History Disappearing

I won't have a chance to write a post before the final episode of CSPAN's The Contenders airs tomorrow night, so I'll just copy an email that I sent a friend a couple of weeks ago:

Hey C..,

I saw this guy on TV back in Sept when the 3rd medicine was really wiping me out. I saw him a few times, and he always said something like:
Mr. Smith said he perceived "The Contenders" to be an alternative to the constant coverage of the current Republican primary campaign, but relevant to the coverage too. Take Mr. Perot, for instance. "Perot put the deficit on the agenda in a way that made it virtually impossible for whoever won to avoid doing something about it," he said. New York Times Sept. 8, 2011

He also implied that Perot gave the election to Clinton, which seems plausible, perhaps likely (to most people), but isn't backed by polling data. He never got challenged on either point. I don't really care about the election part, except or the fact it's a Republican talking point to try make Conservative Republicanism seem like the mainstream. If you look at the guy's bio, you'll see that he's a Repub at a school (a state school) that conservatives and libertarians are taking over.

Anyway, you were a Perot supporter, didn't he talk about two deficits? In fact, didn't he talk about the trade deficit at least much as, probably more than, the budget deficit? I'd have a lot more respect for Tea Party supporters if people who are old enough to remember when there was concern about two deficits, showed concern for both deficits.

The rest of the email was personal, but of course the answer was yes, Perot was at least as concerned about the trade deficit as the federal budget deficit. My memory is that from 1980 (the first election in which I was old enough to vote) until some point in the 1990's* there was roughly equal concern over both deficits, but I'll have more on that in another post.

I can't call Richard Norton Smith a lazy researcher with a biased memory or a partisan hack until tomorrow night's episode airs and I can see how much attention he pays to Perot's concern with both deficits, but the September promos all left out the same thing, and I thought I heard a giant sucking sound.

*Concern over trade imbalances possibly started fading with 1985 Plaza Accord, but I don't think it completely disappeared from the sphere of legitimate discourse until the passage of NAFTA divided the Democratic Party and globalization protesters were marginalized as kooks in the Nineties.

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