Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Ronald Reagan

Chris Christie won't run but doesn't mind being asked

   Chris-Christie-Reagan-Library

Chris Christie, the wildly popular northeastern governor -- at least in GOP circles -- spoke in soaring terms on the subject of American exceptionalism Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in Simi Valley.

The theme of the official speech was American exceptionalism -- delivered to an audience that included Nancy Reagan, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

But the theme of the Q&A that followed was about whether the New Jersey governor would jump into the 2012 Republican presidential race.

(Ciick here and here for a two-part video; and here for the full text, courtesy of The Weekly Standard.)

But first, he was asked about a subject that caused some trouble for a declared candidate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, in the last GOP debate down in Florida. Defending his decision with the Texas Legislature to grant discounted in-state tuition rates to children of illegal aliens, Perry had said:

"If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart."

Christie took exception to that:

As for the education expense, I've dealt with this problem in New Jersey, and I need to be crystal clear about it. I want every child to be educated, but I do not believe that, for the people who came here illegally, that we should be subsidizing, with taxpayer money, through in-state tuition, their education.

Let me be very clear, from my perspective, that is not a heartless position. That is a common-sense position.

The next questioner addressed the presidential campaign: "Gov. Christie, you're known as a straight-shooter, not one given to playing games. Can you tell us what's going on here? Are you reconsidering or are you standing firm?"

"Listen," said Christie, "I have to tell you the truth -- you folks are an incredible disappointment as an audience." That got big laughs. "The fact that it took to the second question shows you people are off your game. That is not American exceptionalism."

That got bigger laughs.

But then the governor referred his listeners to Politico.com, which today posted a video compilation of Christie's denials that he's running.

Check it out below:

But that didn't retire the subject.

A few minutes later, after Christie told a story about his entitlement curbs earning him boos from some firefighters, ending with, "Real leaders, they don't read polls; they change polls" -- it came up again.

A former New Jersey resident, now in California, praised the governor, said he made her proud and then told him, "My Italian mother, she told me to tell you, you gotta run for president."

After a big burst of cheers and applause, Christie said, "Well, I'm going to press my luck here and respond to that. If I make you proud to be a New Jerseyan and proud to be an American, and your Italian mother wants me to run for president, what the hell are you doing in California? Get back to New Jersey.

"Let's go. Come home, for God's sake. What are you doing out here? I got a plane, you can come right back now if you want. Yeah, come on, meet me by the side over there, we'll take you home ... Getting more taxpayers, one at a time."

But it wasn't over yet.

The very next questioner, an older woman in the balcony, made an earnest plea for him to get into the race.

"Go home and really think about it," she said at the end. "Do it for my daughter, do it for our grandchildren, do it for our sons. Please, sir, don't ... we need you. Your country needs you."

The crowd roared and rose to its feet, while Christie stood, with a stricken and emotional look on his face. But, stricken or not, he had an answer, and here it is:

"This is all I'll say about this tonight, is that I hear exactly what you're saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it. It touches me. I can tell you, I'm just a kid from New Jersey who feels like I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state.

"So, people say to me all the time now, when folks like you say those kinds of things, for as many months as it's been said, 'Governor, why don't they just leave you alone? You've already given your answer. Isn't it a burden?'

"What I say to you tonight and say to everybody else who was nice enough to applaud what she said,  is that it isn't a burden.

"The fact of the matter is, anybody who has an ego large enough to say, 'Oh, please, please, please, stop asking me to be the leader of the free world, it's such a burden. If you could please just stop.' What kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say, 'Oh, please stop, stop.'

"It's extraordinarily flattering. But by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. The reason has to reside inside me.

"And so, that's what I've said all along. I know, without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment, to lead our country.

"And so, my answer to you is this, I thank you for what you're saying, and I take it in, and I'm listening to every word of it and feeling it, too. Please don't ever think for a second that I feel like I'm important enough in this world that somehow what you're saying is a problem for me. It's a great, great honor. I'm extraordinarily flattered, and I really appreciate you being willing to stand up and say it with the passion that you did.

"That's why this country is a great place, because of folks like you. So, thank you very much."

And with that, the governor left, perhaps finally putting this issue to rest -- or so he hopes, anyway.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul, who's on his third presidential run, and Gov. Mitt Romney, who's been running steadily since before the 2007 primaries, have to wonder, Where's the love? as the GOP faithful rush to Perry (at least they did, for a while), beg non-candidates Christie and Sarah Palin to run, and deliver longshot Herman Cain a decisive win in the Florida GOP straw poll.

There still seems to be a hole in Republican hearts.

RELATED:

Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll

Rick Perry's underwhelming debates: Do they matter?

GOP debate: Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, plus Gary Johnson and some dogs

-- Kate O'Hare

Photos/videos: Chris Christie speaks at the Reagan library. Credits: Fox News (screenshot of Christie); Livestream.com/ReaganLibrary (screenshot of Christie and audience).

Rick Perry's new video zeroes in on 'President Zero'

Our perspicacious colleague Robin Abcarian notes over here that much of what Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been doing during his first two Republican primary debates has resembled the successful, communicative mannerisms of Ronald Reagan.

There's another debate tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific on Fox News Channel. See if you agree.

Something else Perry has also been doing, like Mitt Romney too until recently, has been focusing his attacks on President Obama, as if the Texas governor was already running a general election campaign. (Scroll down for links to those attacks.)

There's a good reason behind that strategy: Polls of Republicans all along have shown they care more about defeating Obama than about the personalities and policies of individual GOP candidates. And this morning a new Gallup Poll shows more registered voters are considering voting for Romney (62%) than either of his two main rivals, Perry (53%) or Obama (54%).

Then Wednesday, RickPerry.org released a devastating video on 'President Zero.'

"We don't need a president who apologizes for America," says Perry.

Watch the new video below. Let us know what you think.

And see if the images and narrative remind you of anything from our not-too-distant-political past. (Our answer is below this video.)

OK, did this video remind you of anything?

Perhaps of the classic 1984 Ronald Reagan reelection campaign ad, "Morning in America." For old time's sake, we'll throw that one in right here.

 

 

For last year's powerful midterm takeoff ad, "Mourning in America," click here to watch.

RELATED:

Plaintive Obama says: 'I can't do it alone'

Perry on Obama's Israel policy: 'Naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous'

Obama's urgent jobs plan: 'Right now' really means sometime next month maybe 

--Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here.

Rick Perry's debut gives MSNBC top GOP debate ratings so far

    Rick-Perry-Republican-presidential-debate-Reagan-Library

You could call it the Rick Perry bump.

Fox News trumpeted its ratings after the Aug. 11 Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, and now MSNBC is snapping its suspenders about its numbers for Wednesday's GOP debate from beneath the wings of Air Force One inside the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Wednesday was the much-anticipated debate debut for Texas Gov. Perry, who announced his candidacy Aug. 13 and is already the field's front-runner. The debate aired on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, and streamed live on Politico.com.

It drew 5.4 million viewers for MSNBC, with 1.7 million viewers in the key Adults 25-54 demographic. It's the highest-rated of the four Republican debates aired so far in 2011, with two previous ones on FNC and one on CNN.

MSNBC's predictable main post-debate "analysis," which spanned the cable channel's ideological spectrum from Ed Schultz to Al Sharpton, lost half the viewers, down to 2.7 million total, with 817,000 in the target demographics.

Also on hand were Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and, for hAmericas-Got-Talent-Silhouettes-Dance-Troupeumor, Chris Matthews, who got no tingle from Perry.

But while MSNBC fielded its "A" team on analysis, no MSNBC personalities participated in the debate itself.

Moderators were Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and John Harris, Politico's editor-in-chief, with a cameo question period by Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart for the immigration interrogations.

By contrast, June's CNN New Hampshire debate featured anchor John King, and both Fox News debates -- May in South Carolina and August in Iowa -- featured FNC anchors Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

The next GOP debate is Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific in Tampa, Fla., co-sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express. It will be carried live on CNN, CNN International, CNN.com and CNN Radio. Also available via live-stream in the CNN Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

While MSNBC got the Wednesday numbers, NBC was actually Politico's co-sponsor.

Since it's summer, it's a bit surprising that NBC didn't air its own debate -- except that Wednesday is the night of the "America's Got Talent" results show, which easily trumps choosing a presidential nominee.

The "AGT" show drew 7.9 million viewers, giving NBC the win for the evening in total viewers, and tying it with second-place CBS for the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo.

When it comes to competitions, Americans are still more interested in who will wind up with the $1 million and headline a Las Vegas show than who might move into the White House in January 2013.

RELATED:

GOP debate scores big ratings for Fox News

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at Reagan Library GOP debate

Presidential debate: The most entertaining, unexpected, weirdest and awkward moments

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the retweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Rick Perry on a monitor at the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library; dance group Silhouettes on "America's Got Talent." Credits: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images (Perry); Trae Patton / NBC (Silhouettes).

Presidential debate: The most entertaining, unexpected, weirdest and awkward moments

presidential debate Reagan library Nancy reagan 8-9-7-11

Quick take-aways from last night's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library:

BIGGEST WINNERS: Rick Perry, who did much better than not bomb, and Mitt Romney, who looked presidential again and magnanimous.

BIGGEST LOSER: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who wasn't there, but will learn this morning that he'll be joining the 14 million unemployed if virtually any of these Republicans get to the White House.

BEST PRESIDENTIAL PUT-DOWN: Romney calling the president a nice fella but one who's clueless about economics.

MOST OUTSPOKEN LIBERTARIAN: Ron Paul.

MOST ELOQUENT: Newt Gingrich warning moderators probing for differences among the eight Republicans that any minor distinctions pale in comparison to their unity over defeating Barack Obama.

LOUDEST APPLAUSE: See Most Eloquent.

BIGGEST AIRPLANE EVER HANGING OVER DEBATERS: President Reagan's Air Force One 707.

PINKEST TIE: Rick Santorum.

MOST ENTERTAINING CHRIS MATTHEWS BLOOD PRESSURE RAISER: Perry on this whole global warming hoax.

WARMEST FAMILY MENTION: Michele Bachmann, as message-disciplined as ever on Obama killing jobs, also recalling raising five biological and 23 foster children.

MOST PUZZLING PLAN ABOUT SOMETHING: Herman Cain's 9-9-9.

BEST FINANCIAL TIP IF THE GOP WINS NEXT YEAR: Buy stock in border fence companies.

MOST UNEXPECTED APPLAUSE-GETTER: NBC's Brian Williams asking Perry about Texas executing 234 convicted murderers.

BEST FIVE-WORD ANSWER: Perry asked to explain that applause: "I think Americans understand justice."

CALMEST CHINESE-SPEAKING EX-AMBASSADOR: Jon Huntsman.

MOST AWKWARD MOMENT: Moderator John Harris introducing a gotcha video clip of Romney that wouldn't play. So, the gotcha guy got got.

UNDECLARED CANDIDATE WHOSE ABSENCE WENT LEAST NOTICED: What's-her-name from Alaska.

WEIRDEST SUGGESTED ECONOMY MOVE: Ron Paul's idea to save billions by bringing home air conditioners cooling troop tents in Afghanistan.

BIGGEST UNANSWERED QUESTION: What in the world did Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart do to be denied a chair on stage like Williams and Harris had?

RELATED:

Ron Paul's federal disaster relief plan: Kill FEMA

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at GOP Reagan Library debate

Gov. Jon Huntsman's jobs plan: 'Straightforward and common sense'

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the re-Tweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Chris Carlson / Associated Press (Nancy Reagan and the eight Republican presidential debaters in the library's reconstructed Oval Office).

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at Reagan Library GOP debate

  Reagan-Library-Plaque-Presidential-Oath
Texas Gov. Rick Perry came under fire as Republican aspirants to Ronald Reagan's old job gathered under the wings of his former Air Force One tonight, for another debate aired on national TV.

Fresh from surveying wildfires in his home state, Perry was the shiny new toy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. It was his first presidential debate, and moderators Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and Politico editor-in-chief John Harris called on him at most every opportunity.

And he didn't disappoint, particularly in pointed exchanges with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was the presumptive front-runner until Perry entered the race on Aug. 13, the day of the Ames straw poll in Iowa.

Consider this exchange on the question of job creation:

Perry: "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt." (A grin and a "whaddya Rick-Perry-Mitt-Romney-GOP-Debate-Reagan-Library gonna do?" sort of shrug followed.)

Romney: "George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor."

Perry: "That's not correct."

Romney: "That is correct."

Williams: "Nice to see that everybody came prepared for tonight's conversation."

Or, when Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said Perry wrote a letter in the '90s "supporting Hillarycare."

Perry countered that he was his state's agriculture commissioner during the Clinton administration and that he was urging Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the first lady, not to forget rural healthcare in her proposal to overhaul healthcare policy. Then he looked at Paul and said, "I was more interested in the one you wrote to Ronald Reagan, saying, 'I'm going to quit the party because of the things you believe in.' "

"Oh," said Paul, "I need an answer on that!"

He went on to explain how he'd supported Reagan in 1976, and supported his....

Continue reading »

Tonight's Republican debate may really be between 2 Texans, Rick Perry and Ron Paul

Republicans Governor Rick Perry and Representative Ron Paul of Texas

Eight Republicans will line up for the debate in the shadow of Ronald Reagan's Air Force One in his presidential library this evening.

But the most interesting debate dynamic will likely be between the two Texans onstage with the same pair of initials -- Rick Perry, the governor, and Ron Paul, the representative.

This was supposed to be the second GOP panel for Perry, the late-comer and new front-runner. But he pulled out of Sen. Jim DeMint's values forum in South Carolina Monday to fly home and be governor during the giant state's wild wildfires.

Tonight, everyone will pay verbal tribute to Ronald Reagan, who might have some trouble winning the presidential nomination of the new Grand Old Party these days. The debate will be carried live on MSNBC at 5 p.m. Pacific.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman will be asked about their jobs plans. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich will chime in. For an interesting look at the surviving GOP field, check out Chris Stirewalt's perceptive rundown here.

Obama will be a certain target but less so because Republican House Speaker John Boehner saved the Democrat from himself. Obama wanted to talk jobs tonight too to a joint session of Congress. Boehner suggested Thursday was better and the president acquiesced.

Cross-state rivals Perry and Paul have already been sniping at each other. The 11-term congressman has criticized the nation's longest-serving governor as not a real conservative and dismissing him as more of the status quo.Texas Republican governor Rick Perry listens to wildfire victim Cindy Cruz in Bastrop 9-5-11

Tuesday Perry's surprisingly well-organized camp fired a salvo at Paul, citing his 1987 resignation letter from the Republican Party in which he criticized the president now entombed just steps from tonight's debate site.

"There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government," Paul wrote near the end of Reagan's second term before Paul ran for president on the Libertarian ticket. "That is the message of the Reagan years."

“It will be interesting," a Perry spokesman suggestively suggested, "to hear Rep. Paul explain why Reagan drove him from the party at tomorrow’s debate on the grounds of the Reagan Library."

Recent polls have confirmed Perry's rapid surge to the front of the Republican field. He appears to have most hurt Bachmann, another tea party favorite who can be expected to attack. A Gallup Poll this week found Perry and Romney to be about equally well-liked among Republicans (seven-out-of-ten).

But Gallup's intensity score gives Perry twice the rating of Romney, 25-12.

A larger question many ask is how good is Perry at debating? Put another way, how bad can he be? He's never lost an election.

It's still almost a year out from the GOP convention in Tampa. Ahh, Florida in August. Who wouldn't want to wear funny hats in that weather?

But this month is already crucial. It's the last in the second quarter of campaign fundraising. We'll soon see how big a money bump Bachmann got for winning the Ames Straw Poll. If Paul's $1.6 money-bomb was a one-day explosion?

And how big are the bundles being assembled by Perry's reputed hundreds of newly-recruited, enthusiastic bundlers, including some well-connected folks in California, where Perry will forage for cash all day Thursday.

RELATED:

Here's how President Obama wants 9/11 observed

77% of Americans say Obama leads nation down wrong track

Obama's approval now lower than his uncle's blood-alcohol level

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: David J. Phillip / Associated Press (Perry, left); Mary Ann Chastain / Associated Press (Paul); Alberto Martinez / Associated Press (Perry listens to wildfire victim Cindy Cruz in Bastrop, Sept. 5).

Marco Rubio at Reagan Library: 'Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up'

   Marco-Rubio-Reagan-Library-1
If you're hale, hearty and running for president on the Republican ticket, you might be out of luck adding Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to your team. More on that in a bit.

At the personal invitation of former first lady Nancy Reagan, the first-term U.S. senator spoke Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Scroll down for Rubio's full text and click here for a video version.

It was something of a West Coast political coming-out party for the Floridian, who's been more focused on things Florida and Washington is his early months in office.

The 40-year-old former state legislator told the overflow audience about his Cuban-immigrant roots, his family, his experience coming of age during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, his belief in the American free enterprise system and his conviction that America can be both a prosperous and compassionate nation.

But some of the most interesting parts of the evening came before and after the formal remarks.

Rubio entered to the cheers of the crowd with former first lady Nancy Reagan on his arm. She'd written to Nancy-Reagan-stumbles-Marco-Rubio invite him to speak.

Before Rubio took the podium, there was an incident the Ticket described earlier today, when the 90-year-old presidential widow started to fall.

After the speech, there were written questions submitted earlier by attendees and some from the audience.

The first was, "If your mother asks you to accept the V.P. spot, what would you say?"

There was much whooping and cheering at that, including someone who yelled out what sounded like, "Stop Obama!"

Rubio cracked, "Am I getting heckled at the Ronald Reagan center? Is there another question there?"

He continued, "I'm just going to say this -- it's a great honor to be thought of in that way. As I

Continue reading »

Marco Rubio to the rescue! Freshman senator saves a falling Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan and Marco Rubio enter the auditorium at the Reagan Library for his speech 8-23-11

It all began with smiles Tuesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library.

In a kind of West Coast political coming-out party, newly-minted conservative U.S. Sen. Marco....

Former first lady Nancy Reagan acknowledges the Reagan Library crowd's applause on the arm of Sen. Marco Rubio 8-23-11

....Rubio of Florida, a tea party favorite, had been invited to speak as part of the Simi Valley institution's prestigious speakers series. His name keeps surfacing in 2012 GOP vice presidential chatter.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, now 90 years young, plays an active role in the frequent events, which she sees as an important ongoing part of the political legacy of her husband. Ronald Reagan was the 40th president. He died in 2004 and is buried a few yards from the auditorium.Nancy Reagan's cane appears to slip 8-23-11

On Sept. 7 the library will be the site of the next Republican presidential primary debate.

According to tradition, as hostess of the speaking events, which are live-streamed on the library's website, Mrs. Reagan enters the packed house on the arm of the evening's speaker.

Tuesday night Mrs. Reagan and the 40-year-old Rubio walked slowly down the aisle to the enthusiastic applause of some 1,200 guests, plus an overflow crowd.

Mrs. Reagan acknowledged with nods and smiles some familiar faces in the crowd.

But as they neared Mrs. Reagan's front row chair, something happened.

She seemed to lurch to her right. Her cane appeared to slip on the floor.

And the frail first lady lady began to fall toward a hard landing on her right side.

Many in the crowd were still buzzing with excitement and could not see what....

ReaganNancyFallDownRubio8-23-11APJaeCHong

.... was unfolding near the front. Others nearby could and there were audible gasps.

Fortunately, Rubio sensed the stumble. He braced his legs and caught the president's widow by her left arm as she swung into him.

Secret Service and other crowd members quickly rushed in to assist Mrs. Reagan to her feet and a chair. She appeared to be uninjured and after some moments, the program proceeded. Mrs. Reagan previously suffered a fractured pelvis in a 2008 fall that required hospitalization.

Click here for a separate item with video on Rubio's 23-minute remarks and Q and A session with audience members.

We also have video of the incident here from MyFoxOrlando.com.

VIDEO: Nancy Reagan falls : MyFoxORLANDO.com

RELATED:

Television review: 'Nancy Reagan' and 'Reagan'

Reagan Centennial: PBS looks at Nancy; HBO looks at Ron

Nancy Reagan, Clintons, Bush to attend Betty Ford memorial

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo series: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press.    Video: MyFoxOrlando.com

Iowa GOP Debate: No Perry or Palin, but plenty of verbal punches

   GOP-debate-Ames-Iowa
Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann swiped at each other; Rick Santorum and Ron Paul traded shots; Newt Gingrich slapped Fox News; Mitt Romney was all business but was nice to Herman Cain; and Jon Huntsman Jr. said his economic plan "is coming."

The GOP debate Thursday night in Ames, Iowa (on a far less glitzy set than CNN used for its June debate in New Hampshire), two days before the Ames Straw Poll, was hardly the lovefest that some critics might have expected, with half of the press panel drawn from the perceived conservative stronghold of Fox News Channel.

The candidates went after each other, went after the president, and a few times, went after the questioners.

(Only candidates polling 1% or higher in nationally recognized polls were invited. Among those left out was Thaddeus McCotter, who is nevertheless participating in the straw poll.)

Held at Iowa State University, the debate featured questions from Fox News Channel anchors Bret Baier ("Special Report") and Chris Wallace ("Fox News Sunday"), and Washington Examiner writers Byron York and Susan Ferrichio.

Among the highlights ...

Continue reading »

Space shuttle ascends in down times -- 1981-2011

   Space-shuttle-Columbia-lifts-off

Once before, NASA and its shuttle program helped to lift America's spirits in times of political and economic uncertainty; now both are victims of changing times and shrinking budgets.

The nation at the beginning of the shuttle program in 1981 was eerily similar to the one at the program's end in 2011, which came Friday morning at Cape Canaveral, Fla., as the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on the 135th and final mission, to the International Space Station.

"Employment displayed sluggish growth as auto manufacturing failed to keep pace with other industries and homebuilding remained depressed; unemployment held close to the late 1980 levels."

That's the sub-headline from a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also states that during the first half of 1981, unemployment was 7.4% after years of recession, stagflation and oil embargos.

President Reagan got to preside over the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, but it was hardly his first momentous event of the year -- or of his presidency.

Reagans_wave_after_returning_to_WH_1981 On Jan. 20, he was inaugurated after a landslide victory over former President Carter, and the American hostages in Iran were released minutes afterward.

Then on March 30, only 69 days into the new administration, John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan in the torso outside a Washington, D.C. hotel.

The 70-year-old president was released from the hospital on April 11, a red sweater concealing his bulletproof vest.

The next day, he, the nation and the world watched as Columbia lifted off, launching a new era of manned spaceflight.

Today, with a thankfully uninjured president but a persistently ailing economy, the launch of the shuttle Atlantis means the end of that era, with a loss of many jobs in both NASA -- particularly in Florida -- and in aerospace

NASA has no manned missions planned and will rely on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Ironically, for an administration that seems eager to involve goverment in many aspects of the economy, the White House now is urging the private sector to fill the gap in low-Earth-orbit transportation.

But in 1981, it was all a brave new world, and the excitement was clear in the voice of ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds, especially when he said, "Go, baby, go ... oh, honey, go, fly like an eagle, go."

Unfortunately, we can't embed the video, so click here and enjoy (Reynolds' exclamation comes at about the 5-minute mark).

After the jump, enjoy the live Tweeting the Ticket's Andrew Malcolm delivered.

RELATED:

Atlantis space shuttle unveiled for last flight

Obama on future space U.S. space exploration: Yes, but ...

Behind the scenes at the last Atlantis launch; What to watch for as the shuttle program ends

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment-news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos, from top:  Screenshot of Atlantis launch on ABC News (Credit: Kate O'Hare); Nancy and Ronald Reagan (www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/)

Andrew Malcolm is on assignment

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics


Categories


Archives
 



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: