Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the last book I ever read (Rachel Maddow's Drift, excerpt five)

from Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow:

The treaty squeaked through by a single vote, but it gave Reagan and the right wing of the Republican Party an issue that kept on giving. The next two election cycles were bloodbaths for the Senate Democrats. That New Hampshire senator lost his seat; so did the treaty's floor manager, four-term senator Frank Church, who could not overcome a last-minute conservative ad blitz funded by the National Conservative Political Action Committee: "Now that all the shouting is over, remember the Panama Canal, built with American blood and treasure. Frank Church voted to give it away." Birch Bayh of Indiana lost to a callow, lightweight Republican named Dan Quayle, and the 1972 presidential nominee George McGovern lost his South Dakota seat in an embarassing 58-39 landslide.

But the Reagan assault didn't stop at the party line. A slew of moderate Republicans who had supported the treaty were swept aside for being weak-kneed, such as Kansan James B. Pearson, who retired amid catcalls that he was not "Republican enough," and old lions like Clifford Case and Jacob Javits, who lost ignominiously in the primary to a county supervisor from Long Island named Alfonse D'Amato. In November 1980, when Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time since the end of 1954, this was not your father's Republican Party. The Senate newbies were amped up, doctrinaire, undistracted by facts on the ground, and primed for a fight in which America could prove itself mighty once again. And at the head of the parade was the new president-elect, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

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