To most Americans, bigotry in politics is a relic of bygone years. Through the diligent efforts of prominent citizens and anti-bias organizations, most blind prejudice has been erased from our public life, and candidates of all religious beliefs and races are now acceptable.
It is, therefore, a jarring note to reflect on the emotional opposition to Ronald Reagan’s candidacy for the Presidency. This has reared its ugly head in a frank admission recently by one of the country’s widely acclaimed writers on public affairs, whose columns appear regularly in 150 newspapers. Here is how Joseph Kraft described his own self-styled “prejudice”:
“I am enough of an intellectual snob to believe that a former movie actor shouldn’t be President of the United States. Public service seems to me by several notches a higher calling than playing George Gipp in ‘The Rockne Story.'”
Since this senior columnist allowed his prejudice to surface, the cartoonists have taken their cue and have been having a field day caricaturing Reagan with variations on the same theme.
It is hardly a self-evident truth that playing politics repre sents “a higher calling” than playing George Gipp in “The Rockne Story.” A good case might even be made for the exact opposite.
There never were any two men in the history of our country who had more experience and preparation for the Presidency than Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. They spent their entire lives in national politics, attaining even the Vice Presidency. They provide persuasive proof that a lifetime spent in political jobs is not the best training for the Presidency.
The real reason why certain people are grasping at any straw to attack Ronald Reagan is his program to cut Federal spending by $90 billion. This promise is to all the special-interest spending lobbies what the red scarf is to the bull. They feel threatened, see red, and are closing in to defend their private pipelines into the public purse.
Capitol Hill reporter Donald Lambro has spill.ed out in a new book called “The Federal Rathole” some $25 billion worth of waste which could be cut from the Federal budget. This includes the annual suns allocated to foreign giveaways, and the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities which funds plays like the one called “The Dirtiest Show on Earth” and gives $750 prizes to poems like the seven-letter one which runs, in its entirely, “lighght.”
Other places where Federal spending could be cut include the Overseas Private Investment Corporation which loaned $415,000 to a Haitian resort which advertises that it is “elegant, exotic, and erotic,” and the food stamp program concerning which Victor Riesel charges that “at least $1 billion a year is being ripped off through fraud, ineligibility and sheer waste.”
The 1976 presidential issues are important enough to be debated on their merits, rather than suppressed beneath bigotry against Ronald Reagan’s background.