Daily News from New York, New York on October 31, 1980 · 82
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Daily News from New York, New York · 82

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Friday, October 31, 1980
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EDITORIALS The PresidencyIV: Reagan for President So it has come to this. After the great debate, after all the speeches, the charges and countercharges, after the insanely long primary trail, the American people must decide. - A political process, cruelly distorted by reform, has served up a poverty of leadership rather than the richness of talent the nation deserves and could provide. And yet the good citizen must still choose. For us, as for millions of voters, it is a close call and a difficult one. But with many misgivings, and more hope than certitude, we recommend the election of Ronald Reagan. In the conduct of foreign affairs,, during an hour of history when the danger is truly extraordinary, when the stakes are no less than peace or : war, Reagan and the men around him promise a clearer, more coherent and firmer direction than we have ever had from Jimmy Carter. In addressing the great challenges of a troubled economy, from inflation to the revitalization of industry, Reagan put forward some doubtful propositions during the campaign. But he has assembled an impressive group of advisers who have the wisdom and experience to replace Carter's disastrous zig-zag policies with an effective national strategy. - , Less discussed but perhaps most important of all, the Republican Party of 1980 is generating more fresh thinking about the problems we face than the government-weary Democratic establishment. The tremendous intellectual energies which, spawned and then sustained the New Deal philosophy down through the Great Society years are now largely exhausted. Indeed, we saw the spent remains in Sen. Edward Kennedy's failed primary campaign. I en. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Demo crat and a Carter supporter, recently made the point with customary candor: "Somewhere in the 1960s we ceased to be a party of ideas, but we then went on to become a party rather opposed to ideas." Because this is so, and because the need for new ideas is so urgent and immediate, a change in the White House seems justified, despite Reagan's own limitations as an! intellect or statesman. In the debate Tuesday night, Carter showed that he is a highly intelligent man. He handled the questions with clarity and precision. He was in full command of his subjects. He made good debating points and was especially skillful in marshaling last-minute arguments to appeal to disaffected Democrats. And yet, somehow, the capacity for leadership eludes him still. Perhaps it is the inanimately cold personality that millions saw on television; perhaps it is the political calculus that seems to influence so many of his decisions. Maybe it is his engineer's approach to problems, which buries him so deeply in detail that he cannot see larger issues in the context of current trends or past history. Perhaps it is all these things, but the fact remains: Carter is" strangely unable to pro- vide the vision or motivation to unite the nation and lead it well. Despite his eight years as governor of California, Reagan has a surprisingly limited grasp of the country's problems or knowledge of international affairs. In an age of staggering complexity, he tends to cling to simple general principles and expects these to be converted by some alchemy into practical programs and solutions. But he showed in the debate that he can deal with difficult issues more competently than many people had supposed. Even in the mystic realm of nuclear arms control, he skillfully fended off Carter's attacks and even landed some blows of his own. One of these was his argument that Carter himself had bungled the SALT-2 negotiations by first rejecting the nearly complete Ford-Kissinger plan and then making "unilateral concessions" by canceling the B-l bomber, delaying the MX missile, Trident submarine, and cruise missile, and shutting down Minuteman production. On perhaps the most emotional issue in the campaign, Reagan was persuasive. Carter has tried, with brutal cynicism and distorted rhetoric, to portray his opponent as a trigger-happy hawk who could impetuously plunge America into war. In the debate, however, Reagan made it clear ; that he is fundamentally a moderate who , simply believes that American strength is the best basis for resisting Soviet expansion and maintaining peace. This is a responsible position. It is also central to understanding both the shambles of Carter's foreign policy and the promise of improvement with a new administration. i.For Carter's.advisers have been orn during most of his term by two conflicting views: one that makes East-West relations and balance of power strategy the keystone of policy in the Kissinger moldand another that puts more emphasis on accommodation with Russia and improved Third World ties. Although some of these differences disappeared with Secretary of State Vance's resignation, the general chaos in the management of foreign policy continues. Both in private conversation and by public inaction, the President has indicated he has no plans to change his ways or advisers. The result is that Free World leaders everywhere shudder at the prospect of another four Carter years. Despite his own limitations, Reagan promises to rely on the advice of formidably experienced men like former Treasury Secretary George Shultz and, directly or indirectly, Henry Kissinger. With truly gifted statesmen in the White House and cabinet there would be some hope of reordering our priorities and developing a consistent and effective foreign policy something that is essential if we, are ever to restore world confidence in America's leadership and help to prevent Moscow from making danger-' -. ous miscalculations. mm A similar analysis applies in the case of the national economy, whose restored vigor is as important to our world leadership as it is to the future quality of American life. We happen to like Carter's latest economic plan better than Reagan's because it puts the main emphasis on modernizing industry and increasing productivity rather than on inflationary, across-the-board tax cuts. The President has produced so many different plans in the last few years, however, and run in so many different directions that we have no confidence that his latest proposals would really get off the ground before he would change course again. He has simply not been able to get his economic act together; he has not been able to develop a basic strategy. And here again the high caliber of Reagan's advisers offers the prospect of fresher ideas and sounder, more consistent policy. We have a lot of doubts about Reagan's urban views and give Carter credit for at least trying to address some of New York's problems. But in the long run, a strategy that gets the American economy rolling , again generating jobs and increasing pro- I ductivity will do more for the city than another round of patchwork local repairs. It is an imperfect world, as they say, and the presidential choices are uninspiring. The voter's dilemma is whether to endure another four years with an intelligent but ineffective leader, or to take a chance on a warmer, less complicated man, with only modest abilities but a reputation for attracting good advisers and using them well. On the decisive issues of foreign affairs and the national economy, we believe the risk of a new administration must be taken. We urge the election of Ronald Reagan next , Tuesday. K. ; , I a. 3

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