We felt we wuz screwed. Now there’s proof: we wuz screwed

At 7:30 on the night of Tuesday, November 4, 1980, my cousin Janet and I were on the phone in a state of whatever kind of shock it is that isn’t usually fatal.

“This is a joke, isn’t it?” she said seriously. “It has to be a joke.”

It was the night the empty suit and minimal brain named Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter. And it was a joke. The GOP has been doing its best to extend the joke ever since.

Today, Peter Baker in the Times has a long, detailed article about the surreptitious plot to destroy Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid — a plot that succeeded. It had to do with Iran and American hostages held there since the Iranian fundamentalist “revolution.” During that period, a lot of people had suspicions the hostages would not be released while Jimmy Carter was in the White House.

And they were not. Immediately after Reagan won the election to our shock and modified horror (we didn’t know it was “modified” horror until Trump was elected), the hostages were released. That very immediacy was a sneering punch in the gut and sort of corroborated the possibly paranoid notion that Reagan’s team had something to do with all that.

(On a more entertaining note, the dazzlingly witty thriller, Argo, was an adaptation of a true story about how some of those hostages were rescued.)

Baker’s article is called “A Four-Decade Secret: The Untold Story of Sabotaging Jimmy Carter’s Re-election. Nearly 43 years later, a prominent Texas politician said he unwittingly took part in a Middle East tour with a clandestine agenda.”

So, Janet, you were right. It was a joke, a very nasty one. And the paranoids? They were right, too.

I’m sort of amazed at how bitter I remain about this ugly manipulation of our history. As I read the article, I tried to apply what I know about contemporary culture and politics to the story. Given our bangbang communications and the crowd of journalists and obsessed amateurs who live to dig up these stories, could such a secret be kept today?

I doubt it. But the fact remains. Jimmy Carter was screwed.

So were we.

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