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    Anecdotal Observations On History & Politics

    Entries in 1976 (4)


    Primary Season Tribute: 1976-2008

    I cut a "greatest hits" montage of Primary Season Moments from the campaigns of 1976 - 2008 for The Chris Matthews Show and First Read at NBC. Featuring Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Teddy Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan, Al Gore, George Bush, John McCain, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. A fun retrospective for political junkies, check it out here:

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    Jimmy Carter's Controversial Playboy Interview

    Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter caused a stir in 1976 when he gave a controversial interview to Robert Sheer for Playboy magazine. After admitting that he had "committed adultery in my heart many times," the Georgia Governor encountered serious political fallout that threatened to derail his underdog campaign. His comments were as follows:

    Christ said, "I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery." I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.

    While he said his comments were "just part of being a human being," and that Playboy Magazine was "just another forum," voters across the country were aghast and negative reactions flowed into the mailboxes of newsrooms across the country. Some choice words for the president-to-be: 

    If this is the 'born again' christian we've heard so much about, I'm glad he's not teaching Sunday school to my grandchildren. -St. Petersburg Times Reader

    I am in a state of shock. I disagree with everything he said and I think it's unfortunate he said it. -Daughter of Democratic Senator and former VP nominee in 1952, John Sparkman

    I had some doubts about voting for him, but I certainly can't now. -Monroe, LA

    Whether Carter was merely over-sharing or attempting to live up to his pledge to "never lie," he remained unapologetic as the controversy hit the fan. A few defended his candidness, comparing his "shacking up" quote to first lady Betty Ford's frank comments on premarital sex:

    In the Vice Presidential Debate, Republican Veep Nominee Bob Dole attempted to capitalize on the Playboy interview, saying, "I couldn't understand frankly why he was in Playboy magazine, but we'll give him the bunny vote," at 5:03 below:



    Ford Dumps Rocky, Picks up Dole for '76

    President Gerald Ford dropped Vice President Nelson Rockefeller for Senator Bob Dole a full year before the 1976 general election after much deliberation. Disguised as a "decision of his [Rockefeller's] own," Ford was concerned that Rockefeller might cause him to lose support amongst the conservative wing of the party, thus threatening his nomination at the '76 RNC. It was a decsion that he later came to regret, as Thomas DeFrank reported in his 2007 book Write It When I'm Gone (which, to the consternation of his publisher, was originally titled Write It When I'm Dead). Saying he was, "embarrassed that I didn't tell the hard right-wingers that Rockefeller had done a good job and would be a good vice president for a four-year period," Ford bowed to the pressure from his cabinet.  

    What's more interesting is that it was his chief of staff at the time, Donald Rumsfeld, who pushed President Ford the hardest to replace the veep -- which DeFrank contends was namely because Rumsfeld hoped to replace Rocky himself. While Dole was an acceptable candidate, it was in his VP debate against Walter Mondale in which he crudely remarked that World War I, WWII, Korea and Vietnam were all "Democrat Wars":

    While Ford survived a convention challenge against Ronald Reagan (who had previously run a low-key battle for the GOP nom against Nixon and Rockefeller in 1968 -- a little discussed fact), he would eventually lose the 1976 general election to Gov. Jimmy Carter. Confessing to his own "cowardice" in his memoirs, Ford's politically expedient move begs the question: is it ever prudent to drop a sitting vice president? 


    America the Psychedelic 

    This unbelievably psychedelic (and campy) short film, made by San Francisco animator Vincent Collins, was funded with a Bicentennial Project Grant and produced by the United States Information Agency. Intended to celebrate America's 200th anniversary, this groovy animation ran on public TV though until July 4th, 1976. The original guideline for the project was simply "to animate symbols of USA," which Collin's piece certainly achieved.
    Featuring images of Independence Hall, American Gothic, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial, the Liberty Bell, the Jefferson Memorial, Washington crossing the Delaware, Whistler's Mother, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and even Smokey the bear and KFC's Colonel Sanders, as well as numerous bald eagles, US flags, Ford Model T's, cheeseburgers and hotdogs -- this little animation packs quite a punch and should be considered quintessential Americana kitsch.
    It certainly seems drug induced but whether Collins on hallucinogens at the time is not necessarily known --those with epilepsy should be forewarned, this is not for the light of heart and might have even made Hunter Thompson feel a little woozy after viewing. This should be comforting to those with young kids: Collins also produced various animations for Sesame Street. Far out!
    Unfortunately for Collins, demand for these trippy projects vanished fast: "Somewhere in the 70's they [the government] stopped buying films - about the time everything sort of stopped for avant-garde underground scene," he said.