Going for the Collar:
For some time now, Ronald Reagan has been all over the blue-collar voter like a cheap suit. Every October day seems to bring from one more key industrial state one more photo of the Republican presidential nominee obviously enjoying the the conversation of five or six fellows who could be regional semi-finalists in the Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike contest.
But the census confirms what we sensed already: the ranks of the American bluc collars have grown thin and will grow thinner. Like the cowboy, the blue collar is now celebrated more for his values than for his votes.
Polar opposite blue-collar values characterized two immensely popular television series: Jackie Gleason's "Honeymooners" and, later, Norman Lear's "All in the Family." It might be helpful to know which of the two TV blue collars Reagan, and his opponents as well, believe most closely approaches the genuine article.
The presidential candidate who says it is Ralph Kramden of the "Honeymooners" can immediately put his bumper sticker on my Detroit car. Gleason's Kramden could be just as dypeptic as Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker. But Kramden's anger was directed at someone, a noisy upstairs neighbor or even his beloved Alice. While that rage was occasionally out of proportion to the offense, it always had a real person as its object.
Carroll O'Connor can be quite funny, but Archie Bunker isn't. His malaprops, are somehow supposed to vaccinate us against his bigotry, his dislike of groups rather than individuals. His hates, in roughly descending order, are Catholics, Puerto Ricans, Jews, blacks and liberals.
Long before the introduction of the Earth Shoe and its subsequent displacement by the cowboy boot, television provided America with a real semi-authentic Blue Collar: Ralph Kramden. Brighter Sides to the Campaign:
-- When anyone considers both the posiblities for, the past exhibitions of, bad taste and vindictiveness by candidates' former spouses, now may be the time to take notice of the dignity and the class of Jane Wyman throughout this entire political season. Not even the grocery store checkout press has alleged to have an "exclusive" on her voting preference.
-- How about a collective thank you to all the presidential candidates, especially the challengers, for resisting the politically lucrative temptation of demagoging the explosive refugee issue?
It is a sincere tribute to the candidates' character and maturity that in a time of severe economic dislocation and uncertainty, no candidate even subtly tried to pick up points in Arkansas or Florida or anywhere else by urging a "get tough" policy.
-- Refugees and the administration's recent initiatives in Florida serve as a reminder of what "responsiveness" can really be like. Unlike government, campaigns must be responsive or perish. Would that administrations were as responsive as the campaigns that elected them. Sports and Political strategy Overlap:
The World Series recalls one of badeball's true charms -- the absence of any kind of a clock. It is impossible in baseball, as it is not in football or basketball or even sometimes in presidential campaigns, to stall and sit on a lead simply waiting for the final gun to sound.
Ronald Reagan, whose lead is fading as fast as John Anderson, chose early to go to a political "four corners." The four corners is an offensive pattern in basketball where the team in possession of both the ball and the lead spreads its players out over half the court and does not try to score. Instead the team waits for the opposition to make a mistake, usually by committing a personal foul.
In spite of entering his political consent order with Barbara Walters last, week (he denied that he had done anything wrong, and promised not to do it again), President Carter in his strategy has shown the nerve and the daring of a cat burglar. He seems to have won the big gamble of refusing to debate with John Anderson.
Carter has also consciously traded some of his nice-guy reputation just to focus public attention on the war-peace issue. The very fact that Reagan is considering a network speech to rebut the Carter insinuations is evidence of the success of the Carter strategy. Reagan, who is actively reconsidering a two-man-debate offer, is now on the defensive. At least for the time being.
Is there a candidate who dares to say: "I am personally in favor of abortion but I will vote the other way because I believe in my right to reelection"?