Blue Skies in Camelot: An Alternate 60's and Beyond

Chapter 100
  • Chapter 100: It’s a Long Way to the Top - The Democratic Race Narrows

    Above: Representative Wilbur Mills (D - AR) with Annabelle Battistella, better known as Fanne Foxe, an Argentinian stripper and, as The Washington Post would soon reveal, Mills’ longtime mistress (left); Senator Eugene McCarthy (D - MN) shortly before appearing at a news conference to confirm his own affair with Marya McLaughlin (right); before the end of 1975, both men would be forced to suspend their Presidential campaigns, before even having the chance to contest the Iowa Caucus.

    “A curious potential voter was seated at the back of an auditorium for a debate between Presidential candidates. He watched intently as a local preacher opened the event with an invocation. ‘Does the preacher pray for the candidates?’ he asked. ‘No,’ replied his companion, ‘he looks at the candidates and then prays for his country.’” - Representative Mo Udall (D - AZ), sharing a favorite joke with an adoring audience in Des Moines, Iowa, who immediately broke out into laughter, cheers, and applause.

    The campaign trail, especially during a Presidential primary is rigorous, challenging, and demanding, and can push even the highest minded of public officials to their absolute physical, mental, and spiritual limits. In order to succeed, a shrewd politician must develop means of coping with the unimaginable strain placed on them by the scrutiny, attention, amd meticulous watching placed upon them by the public. In the current primary cycle, Mo Udall had his brilliant sense of humor and endless humility. Shirley Chisholm could look at the example she was setting for women and people of color across the nation (even if she knew her chances of winning the nomination were slim). Others, meanwhile, struggled to keep up the pace. Only a month and a half after officially announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on October 25th, 1975, three term Governor of Minnesota Walter Mondale jokingly declared that “the only situation which could seem more exhausting to me at this point would probably be the outbreak of World War III!” Though Mondale had meant for his statement to be tongue-in-cheek, a jab at how difficult it had become for any single candidate to stand out in such a crowded field, the press and the public didn’t get the joke, and let Governor Mondale know that they hadn’t appreciated it. He saw interview opportunities dry up, and his already poor poll position slip into the realm of the truly dismal, barely appearing above 1% nationally. Nevertheless, Mondale had caught what his rival Udall referred to as “Presidentialitis”, and would not drop out of the race, so long as he had money left to spend and a fire burning in his belly. Mondale hoped to build up the center of the Democratic Party, reconciling the Liberal and Populist wings and ending the “north-south” divide which he worried would once again tear the Democratic Party asunder. He cared little and less for foreign policy, by his own admission, substituting substantive policy initiatives or criticisms of the current administration for platitudes about “peace and strength”, as well as a strong labor record. The Minnesotan believed he could attract blue collar workers who were bored by Senator John Glenn’s moderate economics, but found Udall, with his Social Democrat backers and strong support of the Kennedy clan a hard pill to swallow. In this, he was finding mixed results, especially as Udall had the strongest record of voting with the best interests of the AFL-CIO in Congress. On the other hand, Mondale was well liked in his state, and clearly committed. He vowed that even if he failed to win his party’s Presidential nomination, he would not seek a fourth term as Governor. He was putting it all on the line in this one.

    Governor Walter F. Mondale (D - MN) enters the race - Oct. 25th, 1975

    For Representative Wilbur Mills (D - AR) and Senator Eugene McCarthy (D - MN), the end of the line for their respective campaigns came far earlier in the process than either man would have liked. At two o’clock in the morning on October 9th, 1975, Congressman Mills was pulled over in his automobile in Washington, D.C. U.S. Park Police stopped the Congressman’s vehicle when he failed to activate his headlights despite the very late hour and unusually dark night. Mills was clearly intoxicated, and his face was injured, following a post-tryst scuffle with Fanne Foxe, the infamous Argentinian stripper, whom Mills was apparently trying to drive home without being seen. As the police approached the vehicle, Foxe leapt out of the car and dove into a nearby tidal basin, hoping to evade capture; she would be caught however, and taken immediately to St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital for treatment. This was not the first time Mills had been spotted in public with Foxe, as the pair had only a week before been caught by a photojournalist leaving one of her shows together in Boston in a van with dark tinted windows. It was also not the first time Mills had been caught driving while drunk. The police arrested him on the spot and brought him to jail for the night, which to his credit, the Congressman acquiesced to without a fight. Mills used his phone call to get a hold of his campaign manager and ask him to come bail him out, saying emphatically, “Well, I’ve really blown it now...” The next morning, the press got word of the incident and lay siege to the local jail, calling for statements from Mills, Foxe, his campaign, anybody. Mills was given a court date and charged with illegally driving under the influence. He shortly thereafter admitted that he was an alcoholic and needed help, the sort of help which would necessitate his terminating his campaign for the Democratic nomination. Mills’ candidacy was dead in the water and his rivals quickly swooped in to feed on his poll numbers, though several expressed their “sincere hope” that he recovered from his affliction. The entire Mills/Foxe incident was hilariously lampshaded on the inaugural episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, a comedy series created by Canadian-American producer Lorne Michaels, when on October 11th, in the soon-to-be perennial segment “Weekend Update”, original anchor Chevy Chase declared, totally deadpan, “Well, surely this isn’t the first time that Ms. Foxe and Congressman Mills were caught with their pants down. But in case there was any doubt before, we now know for sure that the Congressman was getting off his rocks in the box of Ms. Foxe!” The show, hosted for its first week by arguably the greatest comedian of all time, George Carlin, would develop a cult following, and go on to become a pop culture mainstay, especially for its iconic social and political commentary. First season cast member Dan Aykroyd in particular would be celebrated for his dorky, wimpy, yet endlessly energetic impersonation of President Bush.

    As for Senator McCarthy (D - MN), his campaign’s downfall had less to do with a single inciting incident than it did his overall attitude and demeanor, especially when reflected at the press and the American people at large. Forever caustic and miserable by nature, McCarthy loathed the supposedly hopeful parts of the political process, and as the strain of appearing for event after event weighed on him more and more, so too did his illicit relationship with Marya McLaughlin of CBS News grow difficult to endure. When McLaughlin told him she could no longer, in good conscience, write positive editorials about him from the perspective of a supposedly objective journalist, the Senator grew angry and accused her of “leaving him out to dry”. Fed up with McCarthy’s attitude, McLaughlin decided that she had finally had enough. She left the Senator at a hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire, then rushed back to CBS Headquarters in New York to inform their writers about her relationship with the Senator. In the aftermath of the Mills-Foxe incident only weeks before, and the memory of Ted Kennedy’s affair with and subsequent marriage to Sharon Tate still fresh in the country’s mind as well, yet another Democratic Presidential candidate carrying on with another woman than his wife in his private time seemed like front page news. To borrow another Udall-ism, “No one likes to admit it, but everyone loves a good scandal.” With McCarthy’s campaign already on the decline after his thorough trouncing by Representative Udall in the “UC Berkeley Debate”, the McLaughlin story proved to be the final nail in an already well boarded up coffin. McCarthy quietly dropped out of the race on November 11th, and returned home to St. Paul, vowing to leave public life for good. He even declined to run for reelection in the Senate, as his term was up in '76. “To hell with you all!” He was heard to have muttered into a still-hot microphone as he was heckled while walking away from his announcement that he was suspending his campaign. For all his attempts to bring down the Kennedy family and usher in a new era in Democratic politics, McCarthy fell victim to his own personal miasma of toxicity and shortcomings. Nonetheless, the race persisted. Most of McCarthy’s and Mills’ hurt, confused, and disgruntled supporters fanned out across the remaining liberal candidates. The more moderate among them were driven toward the arguable front-runner John Glenn (D - OH) or plucky outsider Walter “Fritz” Mondale (D - MN), while the lion’s share went to Mo Udall (D - AZ), whose electoral stock and appeal continued to steadily rise, and Ed Muskie (D - ME), who worked to combat his stuffy image by appearing in more informal settings and attire while on the trail.

    Mills’ departure was also a boon to Governor Lloyd Bentsen (D - TX), heir apparent to Lyndon Baines Johnson’s legacy, and rapidly becoming one of the most formidable candidates in the race. “Bentsen was so damned big because he had all the money.” Hunter S. Thompson would later write in Abject Terror and Absurdity, his account of the ‘76 Presidential race. “All over the country, the ‘practically minded’ Democrats who worshipped as often at the altar of LBJ as they did good old JC, bent themselves backward to spend enough to avoid another nominee like Humphrey, who, in their minds, got his ass beat by a surefire loser in George Romney. Worse yet, they feared another candidate like Jack Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt, a passionate liberal who could really get shit done. The last thing these so-called populists wanted was more ‘power to the people’. As far as they were concerned, the Swinging Sixties were over and it was time for the ‘serious’ folk to take back their position in leadership.”

    Though Thompson wrote with clear contempt for the party’s southern wing, his counterculture bias and ultimate support for Representative Chisholm were not shared by the majority of Democratic voters. Besides, Bentsen was counting on more than money to carry him to the nomination. He wanted to build on his mentor’s ‘72 strategy by cornering the solid South with early wins in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Florida, then turning sharply northward to shore up Christian Democratic support in Washington State and Pennsylvania. If blue collar, socially conservative, American Values types showed up to the polls in those states, Bentsen stood a real chance of winning the whole damn thing. In the meantime, as the nation lurched ever closer to the Iowa caucuses, Bentsen worked on his image, message, and pitch. The Texan made several issues key to his campaign platform: the creation of an employee retirement security act, which would solve a long-stalled pension reform problem by providing Federal protection to the pensions of American workers; spending cuts to New Frontier programs to lower the Federal deficit; and new tax incentives to open up more domestic land for exploratory oil drilling, hoping to put America on the path to energy independence. This last initiative did bring the Bentsen campaign the ire of the conservationist and environmentalist movements and set him squarely at odds with his rivals Muskie and Udall, but the Governor simply saw that as the cost of doing business. “For every tree hugger hippie that Bentsen turns away,” Thompson lamented, “two all-too-eager shits in hard hats arrive to take their place.” Carefully crafting an image for himself as a “pragmatic populist”, Bentsen touted his success in Texas - balanced budgets, lower than average unemployment, ever rising standards of living. His moderate appeal posed a real challenge to Senator Glenn’s “electability” argument, and the two soon found themselves neck in neck in the polls. While Glenn’s astronaut background and straightforward honesty were appealing, his speeches were often described by Walter Cronkite (and many, many others) as “dull” and even “hard to listen to at times”. To make matters worse, Glenn’s wife, Annie, suffered from a stutter, and was thus very uncomfortable being asked to speak in public, which made campaigning for her husband next to impossible. Meanwhile, Bentsen’s smile became, according to Thompson, “the most valuable asset in politics”. Amidst the swirling tides of foreign conflict and upheaval and the worst recession since the 1930’s at home, his calm, upbeat demeanor, personified by his pearly white grin, seemed to promise that everything was going to be alright. As the weeks wore on, and Iowa loomed in the distance, one message was clear: the race was narrowing.

    January 1st, 1976 - Gallup Poll of Likely Democratic Voters (Nationwide)

    Who Would You Most Prefer to be the Democratic Nominee for President?

    Governor Lloyd Bentsen (D - TX) - 24%

    Senator John Glenn (D - OH) - 22%

    Representative Mo Udall (D - AZ) - 22%

    Senator Edmund Muskie (D - ME) - 10%

    Senator Terry Sanford (D - NC) - 7%

    Governor Walter Mondale (D - MN) - 6%

    Representative Shirley Chisholm (D - NY) - 4%

    Other/Undecided - 4%


    The Angolan Civil War, which began in earnest late in the tumultuous year of 1975, traced its roots back to three rebel movements, each rivals with each other, dating back to the nation’s anti-colonial movements of the 1950’s. Divided along ethnic lines as well as urban v. rural class distinctions as well, the volatile and often violent groups seemed largely to agree only on the need for the Portuguese Empire to be removed from Angolan territory. With the collapse and removal of the Estado Novo regime in Lisbon early in the year, it was only a matter of time before Portugal’s overseas empire was lost to decolonization and independence. Almost with the same breath they used to celebrate this turn of events, however, the various rebel factions also decried one another, kicking off more than two and a half decades of political bloodshed over the future of the country. The population, mainly comprised of Ambundu, Ovimbundu, and Bakongo peoples, had been excluded from public office and education under imperial rule, and thus, when the Portuguese elite who made up a small minority of the population, but accounted for the majority of the country’s skilled workers in industry and agriculture departed for Portugal proper, the economy fell into a deep depression. Almost immediately, the new territory became a possible site for a proxy war in the ongoing Twilight Struggle of the Cold War, and sure enough, within weeks, the USSR was funnelling money and arms to the more left wing rebel groups, hoping that they would emerge as victors at the end of the ensuing power struggle. Zhou’s China too, not wanting to miss an opportunity to show its might and prestige, also chose a side to back. The third rebel group was given extensive support by the government of South Africa, with Prime Minister B.J. Vorster insisting that “leftist victory in Angola would be utterly unacceptable.” For the world, this meant another “proving ground” for the world’s various ideologies and paychecks for thousands of soldiers for hire. For the people of Angola, it meant bloodshed and terror.

    Though President Bush honored his vow to keep the United States neutral in the conflict, the Angolan Civil War did bring South Africa’s unfortunate state to the forefront of the American consciousness once again. Nominally an ally in the fight against global communism, South Africa was a friend however that neither the United States, nor its formal imperial overlord the UK wanted to openly embrace. The country’s vicious, barbaric policy of racial “Apartheid” was denounced by much of the world for what it was - an absolutely monstrous policy. Since 1948 officially, but really going as far back as before 1806 under Dutch rule, there existed racist and discriminatory laws in South Africa meant to limit and suppress the civil and even basic human rights of the black majority population there. This went far beyond even the oppressive measures of the Jim Crow-era Southern United States, and included, at times, the forced removal, relocation, and resettlement of native Africans out of the major cities to “reserves” or “homelands” further north. Accompanying this alienating set of policies was also a marked militarism, as South Africa’s defense budget accounted for nearly 30% of the government’s total expenditures by 1975. This funding was used primarily to fight guerrilla wars like the one in Angola, but it was also used for “civil priorities”, such as putting down riots and enforcing martial law whenever the government deemed it necessary.

    Since the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, the United States’ policy toward South Africa’s regime had become one of increasingly confrontational challenge. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued an arms embargo to the country, keeping in cooperation with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 181. As the Civil Rights movement took off at home, the American people came to see the South African government’s positions as ungodly. For his part, JFK had this to say about his administration’s position on the issue: “The foreign policy of the United States is rooted in its life at home. We will not permit human rights to be restricted in our own country. And we will not support policies in other countries which are based on the rule of minorities or the discredited notion that men are unequal before the law. We will not live by a double standard—professing abroad what we do not practice at home, or venerating at home what we ignore abroad.” This line in the sand showed that the Kennedy Doctrine had teeth, and was willing to confront anti-communist regimes which did not live up to their supposedly liberty-based ideals. Though the Romney and Bush administrations had continued Kennedy’s arms embargo (against the protests of right-wingers at home who supported South Africa’s fight against Communism), they had still disappointed liberals by their failure to escalate the confrontation with South Africa into the economic realm. The nation’s strongest champion in the fight against the Apartheid government was Representative Ron Dellums (D - CA), who in 1973 first proposed legislation in the House of Representatives which would impose economic sanctions on South Africa, until such time as the Apartheid policies were permanently ended. The sanctions would ban the filing of loans, and investment of capital by American businesses in the country, and was projected to pack some serious punch in the fight against Apartheid. The bill managed to pass the House, but languished in the Senate, where it was dubbed “too extreme” during filibusters by the likes of Senator Jesse Helms (R - NC) and Strom Thurmond (R - SC). After a month of languishing near the end of a session, the bill died in the Senate. This didn’t stop Dellums, however, and he continued to propose new iterations of the law with each new Congress. As of 1975 and the outbreak of the Angolan Civil War, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act was still viciously opposed by conservatives and lacked the outward support of President Bush, and thus, would not be passed during the current session of Congress. But an election year loomed, and for a President whose claim to fame was his “statesmanship” and foreign policy acumen... this seemed like the sort of thing a campaign could run with.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Pop Culture in 1975
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    Pop Culture 1975
  • 1975 in Pop Culture - Is This The Real Life; Is This Just Fantasy?

    Above: Her Majesty, Queen set the world on fire by becoming one of the hottest rock acts in history with their third studio album, A Night at the Opera this year.​

    Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1975 (Top Ten):

    1. “Annie’s Song” - John Denver

    2. “Kung Fu Fighting” - Carl Douglas

    3. “Fox on the Run” - The Sweet

    4. “Bohemian Rhapsody” - Queen

    5. “Ballroom Blitz” - The Sweet

    6. “Dollar Bill Blues” - Townes Van Zandt

    7. “Killer Queen” - Queen

    8. “Stand By Me” - The Beatles

    9. “Rock & Roll All Nite” - KISS

    10. “Boogie On” - Stevie Wonder

    News in Music

    February 21st - The Beatles released their fifteenth studio album, Photograph, to mixed reviews but wide commercial success. Critics praised Ringo and George’s increased contributions, including the album’s hit title track, but accused John and Paul of “phoning it in on this one”. Given John’s increasingly political attitude and Paul devoting most of his time to family life with wife Jane Asher and their children, as well as running the increasingly powerful Apple Records, many question whether it is time for the Beatles to call it quits and move on to other projects, though they predict a “lucrative career” for Ringo and George if this does happen.

    Track Listing - Title - Songwriter(s) - Lead Vocalist

    1. “Photograph” - Harrison/Starr - Ringo

    2. “Jet” - Lennon/McCartney - Paul

    3. “You” - Harrison - George

    4. “Mind Games” - Lennon/McCartney - John

    5. “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” - Lennon/McCartney - John & Paul

    6. “Tired of Midnight Blue” - Harrison - George

    7. “Always on the Run” - Lennon/McCartney - Paul

    8. “Scared” - Lennon/McCartney - John

    9. “You’re Sixteen” - Cover - Ringo

    10. “World of Stone” - Harrison - George

    11. “Nightmare #9 (This One is Real)” - Lennon/McCartney - John & Paul

    12. “Stand By Me” - Cover - John

    March 2nd - Paul McCartney and his wife, Jane Asher, welcomed their second child, a daughter named Penelope or “Penny”, into the world.

    March 21st - Beginning in Detroit, Michigan, Alice Cooper introduces an elaborate horror stage show to promote his album, Welcome to My Nightmare. It becomes an overnight sensation.

    April 7th - Ritchie Blackmore plays his final live show with Deep Purple before joining with singer Ronnie James Dio to form a new band, Rainbow.

    April 24th - Former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman and lead guitarist John Fogerty has his first major solo success with the single “We the People” - a politically charged protest song criticizing the Bush administration for its harsh economic policies. The single even reaches the coveted #1 spot on Billboard, something CCR had never managed.

    May 1st - The Rolling Stones open their North American tour in Baton Rouge, LA. The show marks their first official live show with new rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, formerly of the Yardbirds.

    May 10th - Stevie Wonder performs for 125,000 people in front of the Washington Monument as part of the Human Kindness Day festivities.

    June 20th - The Artistics, a new art rock group led by David Byrne and Chris Frantz, play their first show in New York City.

    June 30th - Cher and KISS frontman Gene Simmons are married in a Las Vegas hotel suite. That same day, the Jackson 5 left Motown for CBS Records, but are forced to change their name to “The Jacksons” as Motown owns the “Jackson 5” name. Jermaine Jackson remains with Motown as his brothers break their contract, causing him to be replaced by youngest brother, Randy Jackson on bass.

    July 4th - The Senate of the State of Texas declares the Fourth of July “Willie Nelson Day”, as more than 70,000 fans visit Liberty Hall for the third annual picnic and country rock show headlined by Texans Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson himself.

    August 4th - Robert Plant, lead singer of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin and his wife, Maureen, are tragically killed in a car accident while vacationing on the Greek island of Rhodes. Stunned, the world of Rock pays tribute to the fallen icon and the remaining three quarters of Led Zeppelin are forced into an early retirement due to the loss. They were only days shy of Robert Plant’s 27th birthday. Nonetheless, his status as a “God of Rock” would only grow in the decades following his death, and gather a cult following around him and the band he left behind.

    RIP Robert & Maureen Plant (1948 - 1975)

    September 15th - Pink Floyd release their eighth studio album, Wish You Were Here. Though the title track was actually written for Syd Barrett, their friend who tragically lost his mind through over-experimentation with LSD, Roger Waters added a last minute dedication to the album’s press - “In loving memory of Robert Plant - a dearly departed friend.”

    October 7th - Elvis Presley releases “Promised Land”, a funky Rock cover of Chuck Berry’s hit song from 1965, scoring himself yet another number one hit. He, Ann Margret, and their daughters Lucille Marie and Anna Regina are named “America’s Family” in a headline story by Life Magazine.

    October 9th - KISS earn free publicity for themselves by playing the homecoming dance of Cadillac High School in Cadillac, Michigan.

    October 11th - Bruce Springsteen appears on the covers of both Time and Newsweek on the same week.

    November 6th - The Sex Pistols play their first concert at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, UK.

    December 25th - Heavy Metal Bassist Steve Harris forms the band Iron Maiden, taking their name from a medieval torture device mentioned in The Man in the Iron Mask.

    December 31st - Elvis Presley breaks the record for largest indoor concert attendance as he fills the Pontiac Silverdome and plays a concert attended by more than 78,000 screaming fans. Rolling Stone declares, “Even as he nears his 41st birthday, Presley still cannot help but ooze sex appeal, charisma, and a seemingly endless stream of top quality Rock N Roll. Long live the King!”

    1975 in Film - The Year’s Biggest

    Jaws - Thriller. Directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel, and starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Mark Hamill. The film which practically invented the modern Hollywood notion of a “blockbuster”, Jaws was also the film which launched Steven Spielberg’s career, arguably making it possible for him to direct 1977’s Superman and thereafter spawn the Superhero film as we know it. Jaws redefined the way movie goers saw special effects, was renowned for its score by the immortal John Williams, and confirmed Mark Hamill’s status as one of the premiere rising stars in the film business. A hit in its most straightforward form, Jaws quickly became the highest grossing movie of all time; it would not hold this distinction for long...

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Musical/Horror/Comedy; Directed by Jim Sharman and starring Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon. The cult classic to define all forthcoming cult classics, Rocky Horror is a hilarious, beautiful tribute to the Sci-Fi and horror films of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, while also being a film about fluid sexualities, Rock N Roll, and doing the Time Warp, again. Though initially deemed “too explicit” for mainstream audiences, it nonetheless became the year’s second highest grossing picture and would be a mainstay of midnight viewings across the world for decades to come.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Comedy/Drama. Directed by Milos Forman, based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, and starring Will Sampson as “Chief Bromden” and Star Trek alumnus Leonard Nimoy as Randle McMurphy, a role he originally played onstage during the play adaptations broadway run in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Though Nimoy was initially seen as an “unusual” choice for the part, Father-son producers Kirk and Michael Douglas were won over by his screen test, in which he managed to shatter his “type casting” as a reasonable, logical character, like Spock. The film became one of the defining performances of Nimoy’s career, and made him one of the most celebrated actors in the country. The film would eventually sweep at the Oscars, winning 5 Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Lead Actress for Louise Fletcher (who played the infamous Nurse Ratched and beat out Ann Margret, who was nominated for her role in Tommy); Best Director; Best Picture; and Best Lead Actor for Leonard Nimoy.

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    - Independent Comedy. Written, Directed, and Performed by the Pythons (Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Eric Idle); Holy Grail would initially not be too big of a deal at the box office. Its legacy however, is undeniable. In the decades since its initial release, the film has become one of the most popular comedy films of all time, and served as a gateway for the Pythons and Gilliam especially into the world of feature length cinema.

    News in Television and Film, Throughout the Year

    January 3rd - The original run of Jeopardy! Ends after almost 11 years and 3,000 episodes on NBC.

    January 6th - Wheel of Fortune airs its inaugural episode on NBC’s daytime schedule with host Chuck Woolery and assistant Susan Stafford.

    March 26th - The film version of The Who’s Tommy premieres in London.

    May - Having begun working on a script for Star Wars, a space fantasy film he hoped would be his masterpiece just after wrapping up American Graffiti in 1973, Director George Lucas formed Industrial Light and Magic with his wife, Marcia. The company is designed to handle special effects for the new film as it enters development.

    September 30th - The Muhammad Ali - Joe Frazier title fight from the Philippines (“The Thrilla in Manila”) is sent via satellite to the United States and shown on HBO.

    October 21st - NBC broadcasts the now legendary 12-inning long sixth game of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. The game ends with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk's home run to send the series to a climatic seventh game. In what has now become an iconic baseball moment, the NBC left-field camera caught Fisk wildly waving his arms to his right after hitting the ball and watching its path while drifting down the first base line, as if he was trying to coax the ball to "stay fair". The ball indeed stayed fair and the Red Sox had tied the Series. (According to the NBC cameraman Lou Gerard, located inside the left field wall scoreboard, cameramen at the time were instructed to follow the flight of the ball. Instead, Gerard was distracted by a rat nearby, thus he lost track of the baseball and instead decided to capture the image of Fisk "magically" waving the ball fair). The game would go on to be ranked Number 1 in MLB Network's 20 Greatest Games of all time.

    November - Sony introduces the Betamax video recorder in the United States, which comes in a teakwood console with a 19" color television set and retails for approximately $2,500.

    November 23rd - Sneak Previews premieres in the United States, launching the careers of Film Critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

    1975 in Sport

    Super Bowl IX - The Pittsburgh Steelers, led by Quarterback Archie Manning go 28 - 7 against the Minnesota Vikings.
    The following section was provided by @AndyWho:

    The Shift of the Draft

    Ask where the fates of two of the NFL’s most notorious franchises (as well as many others) had their fates changed, and one would simply look back to the 1970 NFL Draft to chart the beginning.

    The talk of the town that draft was over the top quarterback prospect in Terry Paxton Bradshaw (of Louisiana Tech) and out of the many teams with poor records, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears were tied 1-13 each. Settling the matter, the NFL Commissioner decided to leave the fate of the first overall pick to a coin flip. Other teams, ranging from the Green Bay Packers to the New Orleans Saints (Bradshaw’s fan team) attempted to cash in draft picks for a shot at the top pick (In a last second twist of fate, the Saints rescinded their trade of the 1973 1st round pick in exchange for further second rounders, along with the already offered 1st round picks).

    With the stage set, the two teams chose their side; the Bears with heads, the Steelers with tails. Ed Rooney, upon allowing the decision to be called mid-air, thought he had the flip in the bag.

    And then…heads.

    The Bears, elated with the realization, would go first overall and pick up the blonde bombshell from Shreveport (thanks to the shift, they would also pick up offensive guard Doug Wilkerson) and go on to set up a quiet, but promising season with Bradshaw sitting out the season while Jack Concannon. Following that 6-8 season, Bradshaw would begin for the Bears in 1971 to a decent, but sacked start of tied seasons, record sack numbers for Bradshaw, and some struggles of 7-7, 6-8, 5-9, 4-10, and 4-10 again. While the defense-strong team has been helped to that end, the addition of RB Walter Payton has given life for the Bears, posting a 8-6 record in 1975 and, with the build of pieces from OT Lionel Antoine to FB Roland Harper, begin a strong push for the Chicago Bears around their rocket arm QB in the hunt for the 1976 season.

    The Steelers, devastated at the sudden turn of luck, would look ahead for the season as they traded the second overall pick to New Orleans in exchange for some trades, picking up CB Mel Blount, WR Ron Shanklin, and S Jake Scott. However, thanks to the ‘70 trade, the Steelers would get a starting QB in Archie Manning and FB John Riggins in a back-to-back draft pick in the first round alone. With the stability and team unifying around Manning, the hard-luck Steelers went from 3-11 in 1970 to 5-9 in 1971 and then, by 1972 (after gaining FB Franco Harris), going 11-3. While a stunning team, the Steelers seem to have suffered a bout of hard luck in the 1972 AFC Divisional when a perceived touchdown by Harris was instead ruled an illegal reception and a turnover to Oakland. The game, forever regarded as the “Immaculate Deception” was the cause of the Three Rivers Riot in Pittsburgh that saw damage and several injuries, but became the chip on the shoulder for the team as they would grow in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Much like Bradshaw, 1976 seems to be the year for Manning to finally overcome and win Pittsburgh a title. Even if it meant to getting some shine on TV alongside his DE Ed O’Neil.

    As for the Saints, they would make a small victory in the end after finding tanking seasons under Phipps. Trading the QB to Houston, the Saints would make good on the effort with drafting hometown star Bert Jones and G John Hannah, but would have a long way to go with a team that found themselves still stuck in a rut and a stable, but flailing offensive line.

    All in all, the day of the draft in 1970 would forever change the fate of two key franchises and set up one on a different path. Now, with Terry Bradshaw and Archie Manning in altered fates for the both of them, the two quarterbacks may end up in the Super Bowl before too long.

    OOC: Thank you to AndyWho for this wonderful addition to the TL! :D


    World Series - In what is widely described as “the greatest World Series of all time”, the Boston Red Sox barely edge out the Cincinnati Reds in Game 7 to break the “Curse of the Bambino” and win their first championship in 56 years.

    NBA Finals

    The Golden State Warriors win 4 games to 0 over the Chicago Bulls.

    Hockey - The Stanley Cup

    The Buffalo Sabres defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 4 games to 2.

    Time Magazine’s Person of the Year - “American Women” - Represented by First Lady Barbara Bush, Associate Justice Carla Hills of the Supreme Court, Billie Jean King, Carol Sutton, Susan Brownmiller, Shirley Chisholm, and Senator Shirley Temple Black. With the ratification of the ERA as the 27th Amendment and naming of the first female Supreme Court Justice, it seems that women are finally on the road to equality.

    Other Headlines, Throughout the Year

    The Suez Canal re-opens for the first time since the Six Day War.

    The “Green March” Occurs in Morocco.

    350,000 unarmed Moroccans crossed the border into the Spanish controlled area of the Western Sahara demanding the return of Moroccan Sahara Desert following the death of Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco.

    Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is convicted of electoral corruption, but Remains in Office due to her widespread popularity.

    Inspired by Bill Gates and Paul Allen of new company Microsoft, Atari technicians Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak join up with Xerox to work at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, known as Xerox PARC. There, they will develop the world’s first modern personal computer in 1976.

    Motorola Obtains a Patent for the first portable telephone.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: To Boldly Go to a Galaxy Far, Far Away...
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    Chapter 101
  • Chapter 101 – Space Talk – A New Phase for Star Trek and the Launch of Star Wars

    OOC: This opening section on Star Trek was provided, once again, by the brilliant @Nerdman3000. Please enjoy his wonderful work!​

    For five years, thousands of devoted fans of the hit late 60s TV series, Star Trek, had patiently waited for the day that they would once again be able to sneak in another glimpse at the future. That patience would be rewarded when in the fall of 1976, exactly ten years after the debut of its predecessor, Gene Roddenberry would present fans with the next exciting chapter of the adventures of the Starship USS Enterprise. This new series, titled Star Trek: Phase II, would be set more than ten years in-universe after the finale episode of the original series "These Were the Voyages", and offer audiences new adventures and stories of the future they had taken their first glimpse at ten years before. Yet the making of this series would not be made without intense difficulty on the part of Gene Roddenberry, largely due to intense internal strife between both him and NBC which plagued it’s early production.

    Above: Early test photographs of the original model used for the USS Enterprise-II, which was featured throughout the first season of Star Trek: Phase II. A slightly updated version of the model would premiere in Season 2 and beyond, with a newly corrected registry number labeled as NCC – 1701-II, as well as various other minor changes, such as making the ship slightly more greyish in color and the removal of the yellow bands on the saucer section.

    Though the success of the original series had made it almost guaranteed that there would indeed eventually be a new series in the works, and in fact Roddenberry had for the last five years sketched out his plans for what he wanted to introduce in said new series, many of those plans would come under intense scrutiny by NBC. After the rather nightmarish and infamous production of the final season of the original series (which is often known today by fans as Star Trek: Phase I), many NBC execs wanted slightly more input in the production of the new series in order to avoid some of the mishaps that led to the embarrassing conflicts that plagued the original series final season. The problem NBC execs found however is, though they owned the rights to the original series, the rights for new Star Trek series were technically not completely owned by them, but were instead co-owned by Roddenberry himself, who had managed to secure a deal with former NBC President Julian Goodman during the airing of the fifth season of the original series in early 1970, to the right to co-own any future sequel Star Trek series or films, in return for Roddenberry's continued involvement, a deal which had proved to be controversial with many NBC execs and nearly led to Goodman getting canned from NBC.

    With Roddenberry technically now co-owning the rights to the show and getting a much bigger say in what happened in the series despite the desires of many NBC execs, it is perhaps unsurprising that this led to various spats between Roddenberry and said various NBC suits, such as NBC TV President Robert T. Howard, whom Roddenberry found himself disliking immensely. Roddenberry would eventually remark to close friends, such as Phase II series writer George R.R. Martin, that he had come to feel as though he needed to fight tooth and nail for every choice he made in order to secure his vision for the new series, despite technically owning the whole thing.

    One of the very first of such conflicts came in Roddenberry’s decision to not bring back most of the original cast. Roddenberry made the decision both due to not wanting the new show to be forever bound to the original series and its characters, as well as feeling that he had been able to successfully tell the stories of most of the original cast of characters, such as Kirk and Spock. Though more than a few execs at NBC, including NBC President Herb Schlosser, were in fact supportive of the direction, due to many of them not desiring a return of the ego filled spats and conflicts which had reared their head between the various actors of the original series, a vocal number of NBC execs, led by Howard, vocally opposed the move, as they were uncertain whether the show would be as successful without a returning William Shatner, Lenord Nimoy, and Deforest Kelly. This sentiment would only be exacerbated by just who exactly Roddenberry had decided he wanted to replace those three actors and helm the new series.

    Above: George Takai (left) would return to his role from the original series as Hikaru Sulu, this time though serving as the Captain of the USS Enterprise-II. As shown above (right), the series would also introduce new uniforms, which, though still retaining the yellow, blue, and red color scheme of the original series, would be designed to feel like ‘something that would that one could truly expect to see in an actual space organization’, as NBC President Herb Schlosser was reported to have said to friend and Paramount President, and later CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner.

    Joining a returning James Doohan as Montgomery Scott, the Ship’s Engineer and George Takai as Hikaru Sulu, the former helmsmen of the original Enterprise-I and the new captain of the USS Enterprise-II, would be Lesley Ann Warren as Doctor Joanna McCoy, who would reprise her role from the original series as the daughter of the original Doctor Lenord McCoy, a role which she famously first played when she was 23 in the episode named after her character, Joanna, and then in the final episode of the original series, when she was 25. Further additions to the cast would be newcomers David Gautreaux as the Vulcan Science Officer Xon and Persis Khambatta as the bald-headed alien Deltan and ships navigator Ilia. Finishing off the new cast was the ship's First Officer, Willard Deckar, played by a 39 year old up and coming African-American actor by the name of Morgan Freeman, whom before his appearance in the new series would be most known for his work in the children’s show The Electric Company. The thirty-nine year old found his big break in February 1976, following an encounter at a Hollywood café with Gene Roddenberry, who recognized Freeman due to him often watching The Electric Company with his young son Rod Roddenberry. The two hit it off and Roddenberry eventually invited Freeman to audition for the still yet uncast role of Willard Decker, a role for which Freeman would eventually win weeks later.

    To some at NBC however, the idea of replacing Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley with, as some NBC execs were said to have crudely put it, ‘an Asian man, a black man, and a woman’, seemed like too big a pill to swallow, even to the usually supportive NBC President Herb Schlosser. Not even former NBC President Julian Goodman, one of Roddenberry’s biggest supporters before his retirement, was not without skepticism at the choice to have Takai, Freeman, and Warren headline the new show, and reportedly called Roddenberry after he heard and have advised him to consider changing his tune and perhaps replacing either Takai or Freeman. Roddenberry however stubbornly refused to budge, leading to weeks long tension that drove production of the series to a halt, nearly coming to a head when Robert Howard himself attempted to fire Freeman without Roddenberry’s knowledge. The attempt failed when Freeman approached Roddenberry after he had been told the news, and Roddenberry responding by threatening to publicly walk out of the project entirely and literally take the show with him, leading Freeman to being rehired, and NBC execs begrudgingly accepting Roddenberry’s desires on the shows casting.

    Above: Actor Morgan Freeman (left) and actress Lesley Ann Warren (right); The thirty-nine year old Morgan Freeman and the thirty year old Lesley Ann Warren would join George Takai as the main leads to the new Star Trek series, leading to both finding a great deal of success later in life due to their work in the series. Freeman in particular would later remark during an interview in 1994 when he was promoting one of his films, The Shawshank Redemption, that his role as Will Deckar was the one for which he had become most proud of and the one which he had come to consider his favorite.

    Though the threat of publicly walking out had worked in convincing NBC to allow Gene Roddenberry’s casting decisions to go through, and prevented Freeman from being fired, it would not be the end of conflict between Roddenberry and NBC, which would plague the shows production all the way to the show’s premiere in September of 1976. Most of these conflicts would be due to Roddenberry’s many bold choices in the series, which left many NBC execs wary and suddenly skeptical if the show would be as successful as the original series. One such example of this was Roddenberry’s choice to make Joanna McCoy’s character a single mother, especially when said son, Thomas, was heavily implied, and later confirmed two years later in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, when the cast of the original series and Phase II united, as the illegitimate son of James T. Kirk. This decision would even divide fans, some of whom mocked and derided Kirk’s new status as a ‘deadbeat dad’ and for having ‘knocked up his best friend’s daughter’. Yet just as some criticized and poked fun at the move, many more came to praise the bold decision for showcasing the harsh realities some single, unwed mothers face, as well as facing head on the often-criticized womanizing status which Kirk was infamous for in the Original Series. Thomas Kirk would later appear in Star Trek: Phase III, played by Jonathan Frakes, as a Star-fleet officer and reconcile with his father, bringing much contention in the fandom, at last, to an end.

    Yet for with every conflict Gene Roddenberry would have with various execs at NBC that would end in victories for Roddenberry, there would be others where he would in fact be forced to concede on many decisions. Yet despite all that, Roddenberry himself would eventually be vindicated when Star Trek: Phase II premiered in September 9th, 1976 on NBC with the pilot episode "The New Voyages". Much to Roddenberry’s delight, the show quickly proved itself to be an instant smash hit with both fans and critics, who lauded the shows new cast, especially that of Morgan Freeman’s character of Willard Decker, who quickly became a fan favorite, and that of Warren’s Joanna McCoy.

    Above: Three years after the premiere of Star Trek: Phase II, the decision to have Original Series character Captain James T. Kirk be the father of Joanna McCoy’s son Thomas would even be made fun of on Saturday Night Live in a skit staring John Belushi which made fun of Kirk’s father status by having Kirk, as played by Belushi, confront all the women in the galaxy he impregnated.

    Some of the most notable episodes which would both define and be commonly remembered by fans of the first season of Star Trek: Phase II would include:

    • Behind Walled Fences: The highly acclaimed sixth episode of the season, written by star and actor George Takai based on his childhood experiences, would feature Captain Sulu and First Officer Deckar being transported back in time to California during the Second World War after Pearl Harbor, only for Sulu to be detained and taken to a Japanese internment camp, with his only hope of rescue being Deckar. The episode would eventually win an Emmy and would be regarded as one of the best episodes of the first season, and would do much to highlight and bring attention to audiences the injustices endured towards Japanese-Americans during the Second World War and resulted in the US government and President Bush, under mounting pressure, to publicly ordering a investigation into whether the internment camps had been justified by the government and also to formally issue a official apology to all Japanese-Americans who were sent to the Internment camps during the war. The investigation would eventually find little evidence of Japanese-American disloyalty at the time and would conclude that the incarceration by the US government had been the product of racism. To this day, George Takai considers the episode, "the most important thing I've ever done."
    • Parallel Mirrors: The seventeenth episode of the first season of Phase II, beginning when a normal survey of a planet leads the Enterprise-II to discovery what seems seems to be a impossibly intact USS Enterprise-I (later revealed to be the ISS Enterprise-I of the Mirror Universe) would feature the return of both the Mirror Universe and the Genderbent Universe, both of which were first seen in the original series episodes Mirror, Mirror and Parallel Lives. One point of controversy and difficulty behind the scenes in the episode took place as a result of Roddenbery’s attempt to bring back Jane T. Kirk, as played by Sharon Tate in the original series episode in which she was featured. Due to the real life controversies involving Tate with her affair and recent marriage to Ted Kennedy, her difficult divorce to her ex-husband Roman Polanski, as well as the birth of their twin children Gwen and James Kennedy, NBC felt that Tate had simply become too controversial and was thus extremely hesitant to ask to bring her back, eventually advising Roddenberry to remove Jane Kirk from the episode entirely. Though initially hesitant, Roddenberry eventually rewrote the episode to replace Jane Kirk with the female Spock of the Genderbent universe, as played by actress Tuesday Weld.
    • Without Color: The 12th episode of the first season, remembered for having featured a cameo appearance by Reverand Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., would center on the character Willard Deckar finding himself straddled alone on a planet, struggling to survive with nothing but memories of his past. The episode, which would also showcase much of Deckar’s past told through a series of flashbacks and featuring Dr. King playing a cameo as Deckar's father Admiral Raymund Deckar, would allow Freeman to really show and impress with his acting chops, leading to Freeman eventually getting nominated for an Emmy (though he would ultimately fail to win). The episode was also notable for attempting to highlight a future where Dr. King's dream had indeed come true, and blacks and whites had truly become equals in society, for which the episode was praised. Sadly though, Dr. King himself would never live long enough to see the episode in question, having passed away in his sleep less then four days before the episode's premiere, leading to the episode to eventually be dedicated to him.


    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    January 15, 1929 - November 21st, 1976

    Ultimately, with Phase II quickly showing itself to be NBC’s highest rated series of the year, Roddenberry soon found that many of the voices which had for the past two years lambasted his every decision soon became quiet, allowing him to continue working on the show in relative peace, for now at least.

    Above: The Cast of Star Trek: Phase II (Photo Credit to Nerdman3000)​


    Above: Director George Lucas and star Mark Hamill on the set of Star Wars, sometime in late 1976.​

    “This film is technically Sci-Fi, but it’s not about the future. It’s a fantasy, much more closely related to the Brothers Grimm than it is to 2001.” So began George Lucas’ “elevator pitch” for what would go down as one of the most popular and iconic films in cinema history. Years later, he would explain in an interview with Roger Ebert: “My main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind my generation had. We had westerns, pirate movies, all kinds of great things. Now they have The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak. Where are the romance, the adventure, the fun that used to be in practically every movie ever made?” Gene Roddenberry, seen as the King of Sci-Fi in the late 70’s with the success of Star Trek: Phase II would later agree that Star Wars was also “mislabeled” as science fiction by film producers who “didn’t know what they were really dealing with.” Lucas concurred. “I’ve always been an outsider to Hollywood types. They think I do weirdo films.” The film faced immense concern over its potentially gigantic budget, as well as Lucas’ constant, last minute rewrites and creative spats with his production staff, whom he often felt compromised his “vision” for the project. The influence and editing work of his wife, Marcia, however, would be highly valued and prove invaluable in the film’s ultimate success and iconic status. What Lucas and his team managed to create, as Sci-Fi came back to popularity in the late 70’s, was a Space fantasy film which perfectly captured the essence of Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Hero’s journey and played it out in cinemas around the world, capturing the hearts and imaginations of millions, and changing the film industry forever.

    Since beginning his writing process in January of 1973, Lucas completed "various rewrites in the evenings after the day's work." He would write four different screenplays for Star Wars, "searching for just the right ingredients, characters and story-line. It's always been what you might call a good idea in search of a story.” By May of 1974, he had expanded the film treatment into a rough draft screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a general by the name of Annikin Starkiller. He later changed Starkiller to an adolescent boy named Luke, and he shifted the general into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarves. Lucas initially envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills, though he was of course, later convinced to rewrite Han as a human. He conceived Chewbacca based on his Alaskan Malamute dog, Indiana (whom he would later use as namesake for his beloved character Indiana Jones, played by the suave, mustachioed Tom Selleck), who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car. By March of 1976, Lucas was on his fourth (and ultimately final) script and was ready to film. Final edits included removing Luke Skywalker’s father, Annakin, from the plot and replacing him with Obi Wan Kenobi, an old friend of Luke’s father’s and a Jedi Master. The film took on a “fairy tale” plot, heavily inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films in Japan, and finally centered around Luke, Obi Wan, Han and his co-pilot “Chewie” locating and rescuing the headstrong, independent Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader aboard the “Death Star” - his battle station. With the lore of the Jedi, Sith, and the “force” left purposefully mysterious, Lucas hoped to one day expand on this universe he was building by turning the film into a trilogy about the relationship between Luke and his lost father, Annakin. For the time being however, he focused on the initial film, and getting it to be the success he always dreamed it could be.

    In designing the world of Star Wars, Lucas was careful to avoid the cliches which had befallen Science Fiction in recent years. Namely, Lucas felt that Sci-Fi always had a “polished” feel to it, with clean, chromatic surfaces, pristine computers, and neatly pressed uniforms. He wanted his world, this fairy tale place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” to feel worn and lived in. He wanted the spaceships, uniforms, and weapons to appear used and beat up. There was a coat of dust, grime, and dirt on everything in the movie’s concept art, and that alone was enough to excite many in the business who were a little bored by the “neatness” of usual science fiction. Expectations for the film slowly began to rise, and by the time he actually got around to releasing it, the world waited with baited breath for George Lucas' "weird" creation.

    With Lucas’ writing and design finally complete, it came time to cast the film. Though Lucas was wary of working too frequently with the same actors (he preferred to work with relative unknowns and let his vision for the characters shine through), he knew right out of the gate that he wanted to work again with American Graffiti alumni Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Though both were in increasingly high demand, especially Hamill after his role in the blockbuster Jaws the year before, Lucas managed to convince both Hamill and Fisher to work on the project, taking the roles of Luke and Leia respectively. Though Lucas was not initially sure that Luke and Leia would turn out to be siblings when he set out to make the first film, their prior portrayal as brother and sister in Graffiti would influence his later decision to write the characters that way, as would his desire to develop stronger, close working and creative relationships with his actors, something Lucas had often been reluctant to do in the past. He promised them it would be a decision that they would not live to regret. More than 100 actors would audition or screen test for the part of the handsome, charismatic smuggler Han Solo, including Sylvester Stallone (who would soon hit it way big with Rocky), Al Pacino, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Perry King, Burt Reynolds, Billy Dee Williams (who would later play the suave Lando Calrissian), and Kurt Russell, whom Lucas strongly liked, but ultimately passed over in favor of Harrison Ford, who won his first major role in a blockbuster motion picture. Ford’s character would later be credited as one of the “strongest in the film” and became an instant favorite with audiences for his cocky, brusque demeanor. He was the ultimate “cool guy”.

    Though Lucas’ preference for working with relative unknowns was maintained in casting Fisher and Ford, it was strongly opposed by Executive Producer Francis Ford Coppola and the studio executives. They demanded that Lucas cast a star for the leading role (which in part influenced his decision to call upon Hamill once again), as well as renowned, established actors for the “more challenging” roles of Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Obi Wan was seen as difficult to cast because, according to Producer Gary Kurtz, “the role required a certain stability and gravitas as a character... which meant we needed a very strong character actor to play the part.” Though several well-known thespians would be considered, there was only one Lucas really wanted: legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. Best known for his samurai roles in Kurosawa’s iconic films, Mifune was celebrated throughout the world for his imposing bearing, acting range, and facility with foreign languages, the last of which became pivotal in Lucas’ campaign to convince the studio to pay the large figures Mifune would want to star in the film. Though at first Mifune was suspicious of the project, as he did not wish to be part of a production which would “cheapen” the idea of the samurai, he was eventually convinced by his daughter, as well as personal appeals by George Lucas (who demonstrated just how big of a fan he was of Mifune’s other work) to accept the part of Obi Wan Kenobi, in exchange for 2.25% of the one-fifth gross royalties paid to George Lucas, and the understanding that he would not be asked to perform any publicity for the film. Lucas immediately agreed, and just like that, the film had its first world-famous star on the cast. The other performers would later credit Mifune’s tireless work ethic and good humor on set with always pushing them to do their best, even when the production grew tiresome and difficult at times. Next came the equally critical role of the film’s villain, the Sith Lord Darth Vader. Though David Prowse would provide the “body in the suit” for Lucas’ villain, Prowse’s English West Country accent left a lot of menace to be desired, and would lead the cast to refer to the character (when voiced by Prowse) as “Darth Farmer”. In order to rectify this position, as well as mollify studio concerns about casting mostly lesser known actors, Lucas reached out to Orson Welles, one of the most celebrated performers in film history, and offered him the role. Welles was eager to accept the part, especially after Mifune signed on, as he had always wanted to work with him, and viewed this “darling little project” as a true labor of love, not the “Hollywood wash that comes out year after year”. Employing his powerful, booming bass, Welles turned Darth Vader into arguably the greatest villain in the history of cinema. Joining Mifune, Welles, Hamill, Fisher, and Ford were Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, and several others in smaller parts.

    (Photo Credit for Mifune as Obi Wan to Nerdman3000)​

    A film plagued by a long, drawn out production involving countless shooting locations and a grueling schedule, the finished product still needed to be “saved in post” by Marcia Lucas, whose editing is often credited by fans of the franchise with bringing the best out of the originally slow, flat, boring final sequence in which the Rebel Alliance destroy the Death Star. The final product, however, was worth the incredibly long and difficult road it took to get to the finish line. Eventually released in theaters on May 4th 1977 (a date which would forever afterward be known as ‘Star Wars Day’, Star Wars lived up to the hype and shocked countless film studios and the world by going on to become one of the most financially successful films of time, By the end of 1977, the film raked in more than $220 Million dollars within its initial, six-month North American release, smashing the previous box office record set only recently by Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. When combined with the worldwide gross it earned over the course of 1978, Star Wars’ total box-office drawings in less than two years was $410 Million, nearly $2 Billion in today’s dollars. Monetary gains were not the only boons awaiting George Lucas at the end of his own long and arduous hero’s journey. Critics were tripping over themselves to lavish praise and accolades upon the film. Roger Ebert called Star Wars, “An out of body experience,” compared its special effects favorably to the great 2001: A Space Odyssey and opined that “the film’s greatest strength is its ‘pure narrative’.” Lucas’ attempts to draw audiences back into the realm of romance and adventure which had captured his own imagination as a child had worked, BIG TIME. It was only a matter of time before Fox returned to Lucas and quickly greenlit a sequel, especially as the mountains of cash started to roll in from the myriad of merchandise tied to the film after its initial release. Star Wars was only the beginning of the Skywalker saga that happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The Democrats Battle for the Presidential Nomination
    Batman Casting Retcon
  • Greetings all! In response to some wonderful feedback and advice that I've received from you, my amazing audience, I have decided to issue a minor retcon concerning the casting of the Joker in TTL's 1984 live action Batman film. :) Because of his strong live action career as a star ITTL, I am going to have Mark Hamill play the Joker in TTL's Batman and any other appearances in its sequels (and animated spin-off series!).


    This makes the new main cast for 1984's Batman:

    Batman/Bruce Wayne - Kevin Conroy
    Dick Grayson/Robin - Kiefer Sutherland
    The Joker - Mark Hamill
    Vicki Vale - Sean Young
    Alexander Knox - Robert Wuhl
    Police Commissioner James Gordon - Tom Skerritt
    Harvey Dent - Billy Dee Williams
    Alfred Pennyworth - Jon Pertwee

    I look forward to casting more movies with you all in the future as TTL moves forward! :D
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    Chapter 102
  • Chapter 102: Dream On - The 1976 Democratic Primaries and National Convention

    Above: Governor Lloyd Bentsen (D - TX) (left); Representative Mo Udall (D - AZ) (center); and Senator John Glenn (D - OH) (right); by the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, these three men had become their party’s leading contenders for the Presidential nomination.

    “Since launching my campaign, I have had the good fortune of having one of my dear constituents back home explain to me the difference between a cactus and a caucus. On a cactus, I have learned, the pricks are on the outside.” - Mo Udall​

    The crowd of prospective Democratic voters, packed like sardines into a Des Moines high school auditorium in an attempt to beat the winter chill, and exhausted after weeks and weeks of the same old promises, platitudes, and piles of shit from other campaigns, cheered and laughed themselves red in the face. They found Congressman Mo Udall a funny, honest breath of fresh air. This last trait, Mo’s honesty, had been the cornerstone not just of his Presidential campaign, but also his six and a half terms in Congress as well. Arizonans who consistently voted for Barry Goldwater for the U.S. Senate would also almost always pull the level for Udall as well, because he was seen to share Barry’s forthright authenticity, even if they occupied opposite ends of the American political spectrum. Desperate to counter Udall’s growing momentum, his detractors in the race for President claimed that he was underqualified. Thirteen relatively undistinguished years in the House of Representatives made up the entirety of his experience in national politics. Not even a term as Governor or in the U.S. Senate to his name, how could this wisecracking Southwestern liberal expect to be taken seriously against Democratic behemoths like former astronaut John Glenn, or the heir to LBJ’s southern machine, Lloyd Bentsen? The answer lay in highlighting not just Udall’s sterling personal qualities, but the nature of his time in Congress as well. A tireless crusader for the environment and conservation, women’s rights, civil rights and protections for minorities, the New Deal and New Frontier, and leader of a Quixotic campaign against a bloated, ancient seniority system in Congress, which hoarded political power in the hands of a few key older legislators, rather than distributing it based on merit, Mo had by no means spent his thirteen years in Congress sitting on his hands. Besides, though it had been a while since a sitting member of the House had been elected President, if Udall managed to win the whole thing, he wouldn’t be the first. Udall’s ever more numerous and enthusiastic backers were quick to point out that even Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s greatest President, had only served a single term in the House of Representatives before being called upon to save the Union. Though Udall would never presume to compare himself to the Great Emancipator, as his humility and modest attitude were far too great for such a claim, between his impeccable honesty, impressive height, and irresistible humor, the Congressman was nonetheless racking up polite comparisons to Lincoln everywhere he turned. Liberals across the country were also embracing him for his bravery in staying true to his progressive ideals despite the conservative political landscape around him. The New York Times wrote of him, “In a Southwestern den of Lions, Mo Udall stands as a liberal Daniel.” Unabashed in his desire to move the country forward, he easily won the support of the Kennedy Family, including the former President JFK (who, in slightly improving health, made his first public appearance in two years to stump for Udall across New England), in his quest for the nomination, and made rural Iowa, a state full of tiny farming communities just like the one he had grown up in, St. Johns, Arizona, the focal point of his early campaign.

    1976 would be the first year that most states had an open Democratic Primary and Udall’s campaign wanted to make the most of the new system by racking up as many early victories as possible, to build Mo’s name recognition and snowball momentum until he could get the media to call him the front-runner. That dubious, unreliable at best title had been traded back and forth over the preceding autumn and early winter by Governor Bentsen and Senator Glenn, who by turns amused, angered, and despised each other. Political campaigns are not for the faint of heart, and as Senator Glenn soon learned, Governor Bentsen had learned from the best how to get down in the mud and play political hardball. Bentsen accused Glenn of being “wishy washy” due to his changing record on labor issues and abortion, and “downright tedious to listen to; a lousy campaigner”. The Ohio Senator, incensed by Bentsen’s comments, gave it back as good as he got. He lambasted Bentsen as a “do nothing Governor”, with “less to say and even less he plans to do if elected.” These attacks did little to persuade undecided or on-the-fence voters, however. If anything, they drove voters away from the Bentsen and Glenn campaigns. With the economy as bad as it was, the people didn’t want to hear whiny politicians toss the buck back and forth and call each other names. They wanted someone who would tackle the country’s problems head on, like an adult. It would be even better if they could do it with a smile on their face. No one better embodied the mantle of the happy warrior than Mo Udall. With regard to his own campaign, the Arizonan refused to air a single attack ad or make a negative statement against his opponents. When asked by a reporter why he had adopted this positive strategy, Udall wisely pointed to the old Navajo adage: “He who slings mud loses ground.” In the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus, it seemed that Udall’s instincts had been proven right, as he breezed to a comfortable victory in what was supposed to be a highly competitive first state.

    Iowa Caucus Results (% of the Vote for Each Candidate)

    Rep. Mo Udall - 45.2%

    Gov. Lloyd Bentsen - 23.5%

    Sen. John Glenn - 11.8%

    Other/Uncommitted - 19%

    Udall’s overwhelming victory in Iowa came as a shock to both the Bentsen and Glenn campaigns, who expected to do much better in the state, and believed that Udall’s highly progressive views and rhetoric would put him at a disadvantage in such a typically conservative, agricultural state. Once again, Bentsen and Glenn’s campaigns had fallen victim to playing shallow identity politics. Udall understood that if you could go to everyday Americans and reach them where they lived, you could convince them to give you their vote by appealing to their hearts and their minds. The American people didn’t want to be talked down to; they wanted someone who would activate their logos and pathos, and the Arizona Congressman fit the bill. Citing poor performances in Iowa and subsequently in Mississippi and Oklahoma where he hoped his campaign would be strong but was soundly defeated by Governor Bentsen, Senator and former Vice President Terry Sanford (D - NC), his team on the verge of bankruptcy, suspended his campaign and offered his endorsement to Udall. This gave the Arizonan some much needed credibility in the Southeast, where he hoped to at least give Bentsen cause to defend his homefront from Northern, liberal invasion. Sanford’s backing also served to solidify the party’s progressive wing behind Mo. This distinction was finalized when after being edged out by the underdog Udall in the Massachusetts and Vermont primaries in February and early March, Senator Edmund Muskie (D - ME), who had only barely managed to win the race in New Hampshire, too decided it was time to call it quits and back the “Conscience of the House”. Muskie learned the same unfortunate lesson that Hubert Humphrey had back in 1972, sometimes a second place finish in the election prior does not immediately make you a front-runner the next time around. Sometimes history just passes you by. Politics is very much a game of “the moment”. With his ear to the ground on American life, Mo Udall was on a roll. Appearing at campaign stops in his trademark cowboy boots, turquoise jewelry made for him by some of his Native American constituents back in Arizona, denim jeans, and colorful western shirts with rolled up sleeves, the Congressman slowly, but surely, began to corner the New Frontier vote and gave liberals reason to hope again. That isn’t to say that the race became a cakewalk for him, though. Anything but.

    For every victory Udall picked up in the Northeast and Midwest, Governor Bentsen made up lost ground in the South, picked up an unexpectedly large win in Washington State thanks to the endorsement of Senator Scoop Jackson, and solidified his own position as the “anti-Udall” candidate. The Governor went hard after Udall for his incredibly liberal record in Congress and asked voters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line if they “were ready to accept progressive domination of our beloved party” or “hand the present administration a second term.” The Congressman wisely did not shy away from his liberal record, nor did he try to fight fire with fire and besmirch Bentsen’s good name. Udall correctly predicted that out of vindictiveness and not entirely dreadful poll numbers nationwide Senator Glenn would remain in the race, primarily drawing votes away from the more moderate Bentsen, and costing him much needed wins in Indiana (May 4th) and Ohio (June 8th). Udall, with liberals and an increasing number of moderates falling into his column, meanwhile cruised to massive wins of his own in New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois - three states with some of the highest delegate counts in the country. Representative Shirley Chisholm (D - NY) with her grassroots campaign and “New Left” platform remained Udall’s only true competition on the left, but she tragically found herself boxed out of most major races, winning only the primary held for Washington, D.C. on May 4th and the 13 delegates it entailed. Though she would stubbornly remain in the race as well until the convention in her hometown of New York City on July 12th, Chisholm’s lack of major funding and support would unfortunately preclude her from mounting a meaningful attempt at the nomination. Throughout the Spring and early summer, Udall and Bentsen, and occasionally Glenn, fought tooth and nail for every vote in every race, with the Texan eventually sweeping the South and easily securing Alaska, while Udall’s popular democracy won out over the prairie and plains states, bolstered by the endorsements of an ailing Hubert Humphrey (D - MN) and former Senator George McGovern (D - SD). By the end of May, it was becoming abundantly clear that unless someone could stop Udall from winning the California Primary on June 8th, he would have enough pledged delegates to capture the nomination before the Convention. Southern, Moderate, and Conservative Democrats were in an uproar. California’s Democratic Party was currently in the hands of Governor Jim Roosevelt, who was all too eager to throw his weight behind the Progressive Udall and barnstormed for him as vigorously as his aging, gaut-stricken body would allow. Sam Yorty, a populist Johnson man and former Mayor of Los Angeles did what he could to tout Bentsen from San Diego to Oakland, but he found little success. California Democrats remembered Yorty’s controversial record on Civil Rights and economic issues, and most ultimately rejected his pleas. It seemed like Mo Udall was unstoppable, and then he made a last minute campaign stop to San Francisco...


    California State Assemblyman Harvey Milk (D) was well known throughout the country for being the first openly Gay man elected to political office. To his constituents in San Francisco, this distinction was essentially an afterthought. What mattered more to them was Milk’s status as more than a mere politician; he struck the people of his city as a bonafide visionary, someone who could see a better world inside of his head and had the practical, coalition building skills to make it a reality. Also famous for his flamboyant speeches and savvy media skills, Milk was seen by many pundits and newspapermen as a shoo-in for election to the U.S. House seat he sought, and thus used his unique status as the country’s first openly Gay public official to take on his party and the country at large to address the social issues which Milk saw as critical to the country’s future. He wrote editorials for local papers and gave interviews with television stations, spreading far and wide his belief that the “government should stay out of people’s bedrooms” and that “Marijuana ought to be legalized”. Though he ran far to the left of many in his party, Milk’s liberal attitude struck a chord with many California Democrats disillusioned after a lackluster Humphrey candidacy in 1968 and downright disappointing (to them) performance by LBJ in 1972. Unsurprisingly, by the time the ‘76 primaries rolled around, Udall and Chisholm were the out and out favorites to win the state’s contest and her massive lode: 300 delegates to the National Convention. Though his campaign staff was reasonably sure such a large state would never go to Chisholm’s tertiary campaign, Udall did not believe in taking anything for granted. He wanted to go out to San Francisco himself, to meet with “The Mayor of Castro Street” and make himself available to the most progressive voters in the country, to make his case that he would represent them as much as he would the farmers of the Great Plains, the miners of Appalachia, and the assembly line workers of the Steel Belt. His campaign manager, Timothy Kraft, arranged a meeting with Milk at a quaint cafe near the Haight-Ashbury, the perfect spot to capture the hearts and minds of the lingering legacy of the counterculture.

    Because would-be voters were welcome to come and ask the Congressman and Assemblyman questions or give suggestions, the event was open to the public and was advertised in the San Francisco Chronicle, where it was seen and made note of by one Sara Jane Moore. Now a committed acolyte of the Weather Underground, Moore had spent the entire primary season watching Udall crisscross the country and make people laugh with his corny humor and western accent. She had even gone to one of Governor Roosevelt’s rallies in support of the Arizona Congressman, and had felt sick to her stomach as she watched FDR’s eldest son put on his great, big phony smile and sell lies about how he and Udall cared really cared about the people of the Golden State. Moore had been let down too many times by men who told her they cared. It was time, she believed, for her to take her revenge on them.

    Mo Udall felt like a million bucks as he entered the Bean Bag Cafe and shook hands with Assemblyman Milk, who greeted him with a smile and laughed at their initial exchange. Milk asked Udall if he planned on getting elected President by “just telling jokes”. The Congressman replied by quoting beloved American wit Will Rogers: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and then report the facts.” Less than half a year ago, the polls, the Democratic establishment, even his own elder brother, Stew, were telling Udall that he didn’t stand “a snowball’s chance in Hell” of winning his party’s nomination for President. Now, he was less than 100 delegates away from locking out any chance of defeat at Madison Square Garden. “Victory,” he told his wife Pat, with whom the Congressman had gone through many tough times and came out stronger for it on the other side, “is so close I can taste it.” Still, there was something amiss in the air that made the normally calm, easy going candidate nervous. Despite the thousands of miles he’d logged and millions of people he’d met and spoken with, the personal money he’d put on the line just to get his campaign running in the first place, the attacks he and his family had endured, the strain it had put on his marriage and family, the Congressman still felt blessed, even lucky, that the party was really starting to rally to the idea of him at the top of their Presidential slate. With only two weeks left before the people of the Golden State headed to the polls, he tried to focus on staying on message, and maintaining his sunny, positive attitude whenever he made a pit stop somewhere. The Bean Bag Cafe was no exception. Shooting the breeze, telling jokes, sharing anecdotes, and spinning yarns like only he could, Assemblyman Milk and his ex-hippie constituents were blown away by the energetic dynamo of a candidate before them. Sure he wasn’t devilishly handsome like JFK, he wasn’t confined to a wheelchair like FDR, but he was once an awkward, shy, lanky kid from a tiny town in Arizona, who’d served his country despite a disability in wartime, and always done right by his conscience and his people during his time in Congress. There was no such thing as a perfect candidate, but to this liberal audience, Mo Udall was pretty darn close.

    The event was just drawing to a close, with Udall launching into another of his favorite political witticisms, this one about a Senator who died and went to Heaven on the same day as the Pope, when a woman walked into the Cafe. Sara Jane Moore, tired of this faker and his stupid phony voice, made her way through the crowd until she was only about forty feet away from the Congressman and Assemblyman Milk. Without warning, she held out her arm, pointed a .38 Revolver at the two of them, and opened fire before anyone could tell what was happening. Udall and Milk both hit the ground with grunts and thuds, while someone in the crowd shrieked and someone else went to bring Moore to the floor and get the gun out of her hands. Moore fired again and again, shooting until all six of her chambers were empty, before letting two San Francisco Policemen in the crowd overcome her and take her into custody. As they slapped the cuffs on her, she cried out “Long live the revolution!” and was led out of the Cafe, surrounded by a stunned, devastated audience.

    For a painfully long moment, a dreadful silence filled the cafe. Everyone feared the worst.

    Thankfully, Moore had only bought the gun a day before, and wasn’t a very good shot. Suddenly, the silence was broken by the sound of hearty, pained laughter. Struggling to his feet, Congressman Udall leaned against a table and managed to pull Assemblyman Milk and himself up. Milk appeared shaken but uninjured, while it was clear from the red pool on the floor that the Congressman had been hit. There was blood trickling down the sleeve of his right arm from a wound near his shoulder, but he nonetheless stood and refused the immediate help of his wife and sons, who rushed to his side. “Well,” he took a deep breath and steadied himself before the awestruck, mesmerized audience. “That was rather rude of her, I think.” The relieved crowd burst into simultaneous tears, laughter, and a roar of approval, while the Police called for an ambulance to come and pick up the Congressman and someone in the crowd who had been caught in the stomach by Moore’s mad shooting near the end. The Congressman was even able to finish his joke. Though Udall was not mortally wounded, he was certainly the worse for wear, and lost a large amount of blood while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. When it finally did and he was told at the hospital that he would be immediately rushed into surgery, Udall was said to smile through the pain and tell his operating surgeon: “Doctor, with all due respect, I hope I can go in for surgery and ask for your vote at the same time. My wife and campaign manager are running me ragged with this darn schedule.” The surgeon laughed and replied, “Congressman, after the day you’ve had, I think you’ve earned yourself a whole lot of votes.” The Doctor’s words would prove prophetic. Mo Udall performed very well in surgery, suffering only a fractured humerus and was released from the hospital two days after he was admitted. Hoping to downplay the seriousness of the attempt on his life, Udall joked with reporters after the fact that “reports of my demise have, unfortunately for Governor Bentsen and the President, been woefully overstated”. He also visited the hospital room of the young man who had accidentally been shot in the crowd, an openly Gay Cambodian War veteran named Elliott Evans. Udall refused to have news cameras or press present, as he didn’t want to cheapen the gesture, but he wanted to thank Evans for his service overseas and to ask if there was anything he could do for him, seeing as they were now “brothers in arms” together. Evans asked Udall to keep the Gay community and their struggle in mind when he made it to the White House. He later credited the Congressman’s upbeat demeanor, support, and impeccable sense of humor with helping him recover faster than he or his Doctors thought possible. “Maybe humor really is the best medicine”. Evans reflected in an interview with CBS News’ Walter Cronkite. As Udall’s surgeon predicted, the attempt on his life and his ability to confidently shake it off with a smile and a laugh sold him to all but the most devout naysayers in his party. He won the California Primary on June 8th in a landslide, securing the majority of pledged delegates and his party’s nomination for President. Udall, and liberals across the country were thrilled, jubilant, ecstatic. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D - NY) was said to have worn a grin "a mile wide" as he watched the returns from the final primary come in on the television in his office in Washington. Though he had been personally sidelined due to scandal and his elder brother’s unsteady health, most likely prevented from ever fulfilling his brother’s dream for him to one day occupy the Oval Office himself, the first Irish Puritan had nonetheless helped inspire the liberal insurgency against a populist, Johnson-leaning establishment which made Udall’s nomination possible. The politics of bitterness, of meanness that Johnson and his proteges represented to RFK were defeated by a wave of popular support from a country still believing in the New Frontier, in a bold, newer world just at the edge of their fingertips; a world which was now within their grasp once more. With the Lincoln-esque Mo Udall as their nominee in this, the nation’s bicentennial year, Kennedy believed that the Democrats stood a strong chance of painting themselves as “the party of the American Dream” and taking back the White House after eight years in the wilderness, mostly spent fighting amongst themselves. He’d done all he could to help the man he hoped would be the nation’s next President, now he had to shift his focus to keeping he and Teddy in office, as they both faced serious challenges from well funded Republican opponents in supply-side Congressman and former football star Jack Kemp and former Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent.

    The Democratic National Committee, having accepted (and to some degree celebrated) Udall’s dark horse, underdog victory and nomination, next shifted their focus to preventing a repeat of the petty fiasco that the national convention of 1972 had been. Though Governor Bentsen could no longer deny Udall the nomination as LBJ did to Senator Muskie four years prior, he still had enough delegates to be entitled to time on the floor to speak. Given all of the nasty things that were said by the Texan about his opponents on the trail, the DNC wanted to ensure that his speech would only be made in the name of advancing party unity, if the Governor announced that he had things he wished to say. Hoping to nip the issue in the bud before it even broke out, Congressman Udall, who was still recovering from his injury with his arm in a cast, gathered his family, staff, and advisers around him and put to them the arduous task of developing a shortlist of running mates in advance of the convention. It was Udall’s chief aim in the weeks leading up to the Convention in New York to bind up any ill will left behind from the long, arduous primary battle, and do his best to put together a ticket that was as likely as possible to take the White House back from President Bush and the Republicans in November. After several days of discussion, debate, and long, late night calls to every outside adviser from Richard J. Daley, to Congressional candidate Bayard Rustin, to former President Kennedy, Udall finally had his list of contenders.

    First on the list was Walter “Fritz” Mondale, the three term Governor of Minnesota and one of Udall’s primary opponents. Mondale had entered the race with a promising record of moderate to liberal governance in a Midwestern swing state, but his lack of specific ideas for policy and relatively bland, uncharismatic campaign left a lot to be desired by voters. He won the Minnesota primary as a “favorite son” candidate, but offered little in the way of an olive branch to the Southern, Populist wing of the Party if he was selected. For this reason, Mondale was passed over by the nominee. The same line of reasoning was used to eliminate Mayor Daley’s pick- Two term Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson III, whose father had run the Democrats’ Quixotic attempts to taken down General Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. Though Daley thought that doubling down on Udall’s labor support could only help him in the Steel Belt, Udall argued that Stevenson was too liberal to placate moderate and conservative Democrats. Stevenson’s father was a man Congressman Udall greatly admired, even one of his early political heroes, but he did not think the time was yet right to put the man’s son on the national ticket. Frank Church and Edmund Muskie, two more liberal heroes of the American centre-left were turned aside, Church because he voiced his preference to remain in the Senate or serve as Secretary of State, and Muskie because after two failed attempts at clinching his party’s Presidential nomination, Muskie did not feel he had it in him to play second fiddle to another man’s date with destiny. He too would rather stay in the Senate, or serve in the cabinet. (Though Muskie did express his strong approval of Udall, especially on account of his strong environmentalist credentials).

    The last two candidates on Udall’s shortlist were both sure to help unite the party and placate more moderate, socially conservative delegates and voters. The only question which remained was which man could the Congressman trust more to be an “honest partner” in implementing his agenda: one of President Bush’s closest Democratic allies in Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson of Washington; or Udall’s chief opponent for the nomination, Governor Bentsen. Each had their own unique advantages. Jackson was a veteran of the United States Senate, and renowned for his ability to pass even the most rigorous of legislation, especially in the name of his core causes: environmental protection; civil rights; and supporting labor unions. Where Jackson and Congressman Udall chiefly differed however was over foreign policy. The Senator had earned a sour reputation among his party’s liberal wing during the Kennedy Administration for his outspoken criticism of JFK’s “Kennedy Doctrine”, for his complete and unequivocal support of the Cambodian and Rhodesian Wars, and for his continued rejection of detente offered up by both sides of the aisle. With Udall planning on pursuing renewed talks toward arms limitation and political liberalization with China and the Soviet Union if he managed to be elected, he worried that having Jackson as his Vice President might undercut his message of “peace and strength”. Governor Bentsen meanwhile, despite his moderate to conservative image, had more liberal in him than he let on, even if it was more market minded than Udall’s idea of Progressivism. During his time in Austin, Bentsen had preserved thousands of acres of natural land through the creation of new state parks, built new infrastructure and oversaw the Lone Star State’s energy efficient, high speed rail program, and fought for working families and to improve the lives of immigrants and other impoverished people living all over his state. Bentsen’s views on foreign policy were often purposefully vague, leaving Udall to believe that Bentsen would be a partner he could work with to develop and present a united negotiating front. With the days of discussion behind him, and only three days left before the Convention, the Congressman pulled the trigger and met with Governor Bentsen at his family ranch outside of Houston. Though the Governor admitted that he was disappointed that he hadn’t gone “all the way” and captured the Presidential nomination himself, he reckoned that at 54 he was still relatively young as far as politicians went, and if he wanted, he could definitely try again in four or eight years. After taking the night to talk it over with his wife, Beryl Ann, Bentsen called on Udall at his hotel the next morning to give him his answer: “I’m in.” Announcement of the Congressman’s decision sent ripples of excitement through the party. Mo Udall, it seemed, was a uniter; just the sort of candidate the Democrats needed, someone who could bring people together.

    The 1976 Democratic National Convention met, as planned, in Madison Square Garden, in the Big Apple, New York City, from July 12th - 15th. Herman Badillo, the recently elected Mayor of New York and Representative Barbara Jordan (D - TX) delivered the Convention’s keynote addresses, becoming the first Hispanic American and African American Woman to deliver keynote addresses at a Major Political Party’s convention. Lindy Boggs, who presided over the convention, was also the first woman to preside over a major party’s national convention.These choices, it would later be revealed by the DNC, were made to showcase “America two hundred years after 1776” and highlight the diversity to be found within the Democratic Party. The party’s platform was notable for its strong advocacy of alternative energy as a means of overcoming the energy crisis (with the creation of a federal department to oversee such research and management of the country’s energy resources as well), as well as its forceful endorsement of the Kennedy Doctrine, a call for a program to provide for Universal Health Care (preferably through a Medicare for all system such as the model employed by Canada, which was Mo Udall’s own primary personal goal for his would-be Presidency), and unequivocal continued support for labor unions. The Party took RFK’s idea of “the party of the American Dream” and ran with it, with Governor Jim Roosevelt’s speech on the first night harkening back to the “glory days” of his father’s Presidency and the New Deal. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife, Coretta Scott King, and Civil Rights giant and Congressional candidate Bayard Rustin each spoke about Udall’s strong Civil Rights record and the need to push the Federal government to help all Americans, regardless of ethnicity, race, creed, or background achieve equal economic opportunity under the law. “Let the people judge us by the enemies we make!” Rustin declared, evoking FDR. “For we do not fight for the rich and powerful. We fight for the common man!” Governor Bentsen closed out the second to last night of the convention after being introduced by Senate Majority Whip Russell B. Long of neighboring Louisiana, by calling on Moderate Democrats to “continue the work of Lyndon Johnson and his vision for a Great Society. LBJ’s dream is within our grasp, we have only to sell our vision to the American people.” On the final night of the convention, both Senators Kennedy spoke, delivering eloquent endorsement speeches of Representative Udall and Governor Bentsen. Bobby ended his speech by issuing his favorite George Bernard Shaw quote, a rhetorical trick he was often lampooned for in the press, but did it anyway with self-awareness and good humor: “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.’ Let us, friends and fellow Americans, strive to be part of the latter category.” With that, Bobby stood aside and introduced the party’s nominee, Morris K. Udall of Arizona, who brought the house down with a rousing speech, filled with wit evocative of Will Rogers, “My fellow Americans, we must never let yesterday use up too much of today”, populist appeals to trust-busting and returning power to the people: “Tonight I say watch out, you oil companies and conglomerates who have dominated our lives, fixed our prices, exported our jobs, and corrupted our politics. If the party of Theodore Roosevelt won’t help us break up these monopolies and trusts, then the party of Franklin Roosevelt will!” and Lincolnian ideals about what their country could be. “Let America be what Abraham Lincoln dreamed us to be,” Udall declared. “The last, best hope of the world. Let us resolve ourselves, in our bicentennial year, to a new birth of freedom, and a renewal of our common spirit as we celebrate our uncommon values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thank you, God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America!”

    1976 Democratic Presidential Ticket: UDALL/BENTSEN

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: President Bush Faces a Rocky Road to the Republican Convention
    The Beatles Core Catalogue - Recton?
  • Greetings all!

    I apologize that this is not a full update in any way, but as a major Beatles fan myself, I thought it necessary to finally codify/retcon the Fab Four's "Core Catalogue" ITTL. I will try to go back and edit/make changes to their updates wherever necessary, and I also hope to feature them again in a full length update soon.


    1. Please Please Me - 1963
    2. With the Beatles - 1963
    3. A Hard Day's Night - 1964
    4. Beatles for Sale - 1964
    5. Help! - 1965
    6. Rubber Soul - 1965
    7. Tomorrow Never Knows - 1966
    8. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 1967
    9. Hello, Goodbye - 1967
    10. The White Album - 1968
    11. Yellow Submarine - 1968
    12. Get Back - 1969
    13. Abbey Road - 1969
    14. All Things Must Pass - 1971
    15. Power to the People - 1973
    16. Photograph - 1975
    Last edited:
    Chapter 103
  • Chapter 103: Show Me the Way - President Bush Battles Representative Schlafly

    “What are we doing to get out ahead of this?” George Bush sat in his personal office in the White House residence in a sweater and slacks with his head in his hands, gesturing to the television before him with an incredulous mixture of concern and growing fury. On its screen, video captured for the President on tape flickered over and over again like a taunting court jester. Representative Phyllis Schlafy of Illinois, the President’s lone opponent in his quest to be renominated for a second term, stood defiant at a podium, listing off her “grievances” with the present administration while images of them flashed, superimposed over her. Communist aggression abroad, left unanswered! A picture of Soviet tanks rolling through Kabul was displayed, along with more recent photographs from the Civil Wars in Angola and Mozambique. A betrayal of traditional values at home! Flashes of marches for the passage of the 27th Amendment, and the entrances to various “family planning” clinics around the country. Naive trust of extremist regimes! Pictures of the President shaking hands with Salvador Allende of Chile, and Chairman Zhou in Beijing. Finally, the ad returned to the Congresswoman, who crossed her arms and shook her head like a disappointed soccer Mom. “We don’t need a committee of foreigners, academics, and so-called experts to dictate our laws and customs to us. What we need is national renewal. This primary season, vote for a change in our Republican Party. Vote for someone who cares about America’s values. Vote for me, Phyllis Schlafly.” The woman had moxie, the President would give her that much, but he was livid at this trash. “Betrayed our values?” He asked, bewildered. “Since when is it an American value to stand in the way of progress? The GOP has been behind the E.R.A. since the beginning, Goddammit.” Vexed, the commander in chief returned to his original question. “What’s our response?”

    Around him, Bush had assembled his “bullpen”, the political advisers and proverbial relief pitchers who were absolutely dedicated to seeing this compassionate, capable man overcome the odds once again and win a second term in the Oval Office. Leading the pack was perhaps Bush’s closest friend in the world, and the man he trusted more than any other, White House Chief of Staff Jim Baker. Elevated to the top job in the West Wing after the departure of his masterfully Machiavellian predecessor, Dick Cheney, Baker’s smiles and easy familiarity brought with them a breath of moderation and cheerfulness, a welcome change of pace from Cheney’s cold, brooding schemes which had dominated the administration’s policy making since ‘72. Taking Baker’s old job as Deputy Chief of Staff would be longtime GOP Congressman and former House Majority Whip Robert H. Michel, of Illinois. A jovial, bespectacled man, Michel was seven years Baker’s senior, and much more experienced in the art of “wrangling” Congress than his new boss or the Commander in Chief, for that matter. Michel was well liked on both sides of the aisle, considering both Speaker Ford and Minority Leader Tip O’Neill personal friends of his. While Michel was brought in to Baker’s old job primarily for his ability to “go to the mat and get things passed on the Hill”, he and Baker were also the pillars holding up the bullpen. They were joined by a cohort of speechwriters, analysts, and pundits, who would collaborate to put together the President’s strategy. In response to this particular ad on this particular day, their answer was simple: President Bush had to strike back.

    This team of campaigners, many of whom had been around for Vice President Reagan’s primary challenge against President Romney in ‘72, were absolutely leery of the influence Representative Schlafly might accrue if her campaign were not put in its place immediately. Even with the party establishment standing against her, and the vast majority of Republican voters (at least 75%, according to Gallup) favoring Bush be renominated for another term, there was still much harm the Congresswoman could do by running a spirited campaign on the President’s right flank. For one thing, she could serve to highlight the President’s flaws, shortcomings, and indiscretions, especially damning coming from the voice of a woman, and the person who perhaps best represented the movement for “family values” in the country. After all, as much as his advisers and the First Lady promised him that tales of his affair with Jennifer Fitzgerald were old news, the relatively young Commander in Chief still could not escape the shadow the infidelity cast over his personal life. With his approval rating as low as 35% in some polls, there was also fear that Schlafly’s campaign in the primaries alone would damage the President’s already shaky credibility, and encourage vengeful members of the GOP’s base to stay home for the President in November, effectively throwing the election to the Democrats. Finally, many in the party’s more moderate and liberal wings were becoming dissatisfied with how much influence more conservative Republicans were beginning to wield over “their” party. Liberal ideals and moderation had gotten both Presidents Eisenhower and Romney elected in the first place, and likely contributed to President Bush’s own victory four years earlier too. Why would the party turn its back on a winning formula, and continue to allow its more right-wing members to gallivant and threaten party unity in the name of spewing rhetoric? House Speaker Gerald R. Ford (R - MI), Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (R - PA), RNC National Chairman Senator Bob Dole (R - KS), and virtually every other major figure in the Republican Party condemned Schlafly’s run, yet she persisted, and the President needed an answer. The response he and his advisors put together was very much in character, a classic “Bush” way of dealing with the situation.

    Cleaning himself up in a new charcoal suit and crisp black tie, the President let himself be powdered up with tv makeup and filmed an attack ad of his own, one with a simple, straightforward message. The ad featured the President standing at a podium in Walker’s Point and delivering answers to the Congresswoman’s charges, directly to the camera. “I do not duck challenges.” The President declared confidently as he began his retaliation. “I overcome them.” In less than a minute, Bush gave an impassioned, but carefully controlled defense of his administration’s policies and actions, and accused Representative Schlafly of acting in bad faith. “I believe that the best way to get things done for the American people here in Washington is not to constantly bicker and fight with our opponents, as some would have you believe. Rather, I believe that only through shrewd negotiation and open handed compromise can we find the true solutions to the many problems facing our country today. My administration is built upon a bedrock of these principles, and I believe we are best suited to meet these challenges head on.” The ad did well at convincing the American people that their leader was no wimp, and showed members of his own party that he wasn’t messing around when it came to the primaries. Sensing that an early victory would be all Schlafly needed to solidify herself as a serious threat, the President adopted the “Rose Garden” strategy his predecessor had employed against Ronald Reagan, now his own Vice President and close friend and confidant, and focused his time and attention on securing peace in the Middle East through the tense negotiations which would become the Walker’s Point Accords.

    Meanwhile, from her modest campaign headquarters in her hometown of Springfield, Illinois, Representative Schlafly assembled her own “war cabinet” and got ready to throw bombs. Refusing to be dismissed as a “single issue” candidate over her anti-feminist views and opposition to abortion, and eager to take advantage of the President’s unwillingness to campaign during the talks with Israel and Egypt, Schlafly turned to a team of conservative economists led by former Romney Administration adviser Herbert Stein, Canadian Robert Mundell, and young renegade Arthur Laffer to help her put together a comprehensive bundle of policy proposals to “rejuvinate the American economy” and smash the post-war Keynesian consensus which they believed was truly to blame for the Great Recession around the globe. In aggregate, they sought to decrease regulations on businesses and lower taxes for the wealthy and large corporations as well. It was argued that as a result of these changes, businesses would be able to produce more goods cheaply, thereby creating a greater supply of goods and services at lower prices to consumers. Employment would also increase as firms hired more workers to help keep up with production. Creating the infamous curve which bears his name, Laffer was even so bold as to claim that lowering taxes would actually increase government revenue, as increased economic activity would create GDP growth, which would in turn generate additional tax revenue. It was a stark contrast to the prevailing macroeconomic attitude of the past forty years, but it gave Schlafly a new round of ammunition to fire at the administration. “While the President and his Ivy league do-nothing advisors try to feed us tired answers to today’s problems, my campaign offers new ideas and real solutions”, she would say during a campaign speech in Chicago. Though the powerful conservative youth organization Young Americans for Freedom were divided nearly down the middle on the campaign (as many remained staunch Reagan and therefore, Bush loyalists), thousands of YAF supporters turned out to cheer her on.

    The principles which Schlafly’s team argued for came to known over the course of the primary race as “supply side economics” to their proponents, or alternatively, “trickle down economics” to their detractors. Democrats railed against Schlafly’s proposals in the House, with Minority Leader Tip O’Neill (D - MA) accusing her of “trying to sell out working families for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful”. Needless to say, her proposals died in committee, though they earned the Congresswoman the love and loyalty of the country’s more devout right-wingers. To hear supply side ideas being discussed on the nightly news at all was a major boon for them, even if they were being dismissed. As a 24 year old graduate student and Schlafly campaign volunteer Lee Atwater put it “we’re putting doubt in people’s mind. Doubt is all we need to take down a wimp like Bush.” The President himself would soon comment on these unconventional proposals, referring to Schlafly’s ideas as “Voodoo Economics” and calling on the American people to “not be fooled by promises of easy growth and lower taxes. “If it sounds too good to be true,” the President said, sounding like America’s father, “then chances are it probably is.” Nonetheless, Bush’s unpopularity and tendency to fall flat in the charisma department came through when questioned on the economics, and pro-Schlafly YAF activists brought out an old, tired charge against him: “wimp”, blaming the President for “lacking the guts to try something new and daring”. Slowly but surely, the Congresswoman began to rise in the polls. This was, in large part, thanks to the work of Atwater and two of his allies in Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. All below the age of thirty, and each with deep roots in the YAF and other right wing activist groups, these young men were out to do two things during their time in Washington, according to Stone: “whip the liberal elites, and make an absolute fuck-ton of money”. In advising Representative Schlafly and eventually, practically taking over her campaign, they were killing two birds with one (very aggressive) Stone.

    The Congresswoman meanwhile continued to turn up the heat on President Bush. Taking up right-wing talking points not heard of since the days of Robert A. Taft, she began to call for the privatization of many social programs introduced during the New Deal and New Frontier, as well as the outright repeal and abolition of many more. She famously insisted that “in today’s dire economic straits, we must recognize that government is not the solution to our problem, too much government is the problem.” She rallied populist anger against the establishment by accusing liberal Democrats and Republicans alike of “having fed us empty promises of peace and prosperity, while delivering on neither”. She attacked Bush’s deficit spending, high farm subsidies, government bureaucracy, the National Labor Relations Board, even public housing, all the while insisting that “only private enterprise has the power to restore our prosperity.” The Schlafly campaign was so conservative, that it was said that even Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater expressed concern over her winning the nomination. He accused Schlafly of “having fallen in with the crazies and religious nuts” after she sought and obtained the endorsement of formerly disgraced political preacher Jerry Falwell. She also won the support of powerful Senators Jesse Helms (R - NC) and Strom Thurmond (R - SC), giving her a substantial power base in the South from which to cut into the President’s chances even further. By the time of the Iowa Caucus on January 19th, Schlafly was hot on Bush’s heels. The President squeaked out a victory in Iowa, but it was far closer than he had hoped it would be, and he’d been forced to make damning promises to local farmers about raising subsidies, fueling the Congresswoman’s attacks on him as a “shameless spender” even further.

    Bush dispatched Vice President Reagan and other surrogates to do most of his campaigning for him, and followed up his anemic victory in Iowa with more commanding ones in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont, where his liberal brand of Republicanism held far more sway. He would trade these wins however for disastrous losses in Florida, North Carolina, and perhaps most damningly, Schlafly’s home state of Illinois. The Land of Lincoln held plenty of delegates to the party’s national convention in Kansas City, and Bush watched them pledge themselves to his opponent in a rejection of his policies and everything his branch of the party was supposed to stand for. Bitter, angry, and backed into a corner, Bush went against the advice of his sunny Vice President and went on the warpath. Targeted ads bought with establishment money lambasted Schlafly as either “dishonest” or a “fool” to peddle such promises of simple answers to complex questions of policy. Schlafly picked up a razor thin victory in Wisconsin before losing badly in Pennsylvania to the President. By May, a series of Southern and Western races swung in her favor as the administration feared they would. The Congresswoman picked up commanding wins in Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, and Arkansas before finally being stopped in the President’s home state of Texas. After that, it was a back and forth which saw the candidates trade victories until the President captured the California, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio races and was able to officially secure renomination. President Bush had won enough pledged delegates and would head into Kansas City the undisputed Republican nominee. The Party establishment and administration at large were relieved with the results of the races, but the President was left exhausted and demoralized. Rather than feeling rejuvenated and vindicated in his decision not to campaign until after the Accords were signed, Bush was exhausted from the negotiations, and disgusted by how dreadfully negative the campaign had already become. He would have been looking forward to facing the good natured, richly humorous Congressman Udall (D - AZ) in the General Election, but he was frustrated with the political process and pushed to his breaking point when Congresswoman Schlafly conceded the nomination, but declined to endorse the President, saying she “wanted to keep her options open, even at the Convention”. As the bands played and the pennants were raised on what was supposed to be a jubilant bicentennial GOP convention, the President was left alone in his hotel room, head in his hands, horrifically vexed, and wondering if this job was even worth all of the fuss that men spent their entire lives performing trying to get into it.

    When compared to the Democrats’ vibrant, diverse gathering in the Big Apple that year, the Republican National Convention was a much more muted, fittingly conservative affair. The keynote address was delivered by recently chosen Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker, of Tennessee. While expertly crafted and well spoken, the speech was mostly full of platitudes and calls for party unity, rather than specific policy proposals to help enthuse the American people. Other notable speakers included Maryland Senator Spiro T. Agnew, considered one of the country’s leading liberal Republicans, whose speech spoke to his parents’ experience as immigrants from Greece and what “the American Dream” meant to them; rising star Senator Shirley Temple Black of California, who laid out what she called “the overwhelming women’s case for a second term”, hoping to counter remaining doubts her fellow Republicans may have had about four more years of Bush and Reagan; and the Vice President himself, whose passionate, inspiring oration centered on the theme of leading the country out of the recession and “making America great again”. Notably silent during the convention was Senator Donald Rumsfeld, of Illinois, recently chosen to be the next Senate Minority Whip, whose rivalry and personal animosity with the President were the stuff of legend around the capital. Rumsfeld preferred to sit the convention out, and spent four days in his office in Washington instead, meeting with a very special guest.

    Back in the States on a rare visit home after nearly three years in London as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Richard Milhous Nixon had only grown more bitter, crotchety, and paranoid as the years added lines of exhaustion and pounds of flesh to his weary body. Still furious that upstart George Bush had dismissed him as Secretary of State, Nixon’s first instinct had been to strike back at him somehow, try and cost him reelection, especially after Congresswoman Schlafly, “the mad bitch”, as Nixon called her, had announced her own candidacy. The former Vice President eventually relented and gave up on the idea, but only after a truly serendipitous series of circumstances. Though his alcoholism continued, unabated, and undiagnosed during his time the UK, Nixon was happier after a time than he predicted he would be. Thoroughly dismissive of the self-congratulating Randolph Churchill, Nixon soon found himself fast friends with Churchill’s successor however, “the Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher. A fellow dyed in the wool conservative with a penchant for harsh foreign policy, the two got on famously and would become lifelong friends thanks to their many talks and Nixon’s attempts to convince President Bush of the need for more pro-British policies in trade and geopolitics. While home on leave during the GOP convention, Nixon met with Rumsfeld upon the latter's request; the Ambassador always liked the tough as nails Senator. They talked long into the evening about all manner of things, football, fatherhood, and finally, the Presidential nomination. Referring to the “beating” Bush had taken from Schlafly in several of the primary races, Nixon sloshed his glass of brandy around and almost giggled to himself.

    “You know something, Don? I wouldn’t have let that woman get within five percentage points of me. She would have been dead and buried before the Iowa caucus.”

    Rumsfeld chuckled, then nodded in agreement. “Yeah, our courageous leader doesn’t exactly understand the ruthlessness you need if you’re going to be leader of the free world.” He eagerly refilled Nixon’s glass, then sipped from his own, scotch. “You remember four years ago, the bit about a ‘kinder, gentler nation?’” A look of disdain passed over his face. “What a crock of shit.”

    “And all to chase some pie in the sky dream of peace in the Middle East? What a fucking joke. The Jews and Muslims have been killing each other for centuries. Does this wimp really think he’s going to make a difference? Don’t be naive.”

    On the TV before them, President Bush accepted his party’s nomination for a second term as graciously as he could. Babs, Vice President Reagan, and the rest of the President’s family crowded the stage as balloons were dropped and marching bands played, and the analysts and pundits shook their heads at the mixed feelings moving forward. They expected the usual convention bump in the polls for the administration, but expressed worries that the lack of an eventual endorsement from Schlafly could come back to haunt the President’s campaign, even as he was riding high in the press on the heels of the Walker’s Point Accords. The economy seemed to only be getting worse. With unemployment nearing 12% nationally, few were talking about how inflation was well on its way to disappearing thanks to the President’s policies. Rumsfeld knew it was petty of him, but he reveled in Bush’s woes and difficulties. Part of him prayed that Mo Udall won the White House and kept Bush out of the newspapers and Rumsfeld’s office once and for all. Besides, Rumsfeld had another reason for wanting his fellow Republican to retire out to pasture.

    “Someday soon, that’s going to be us, up there.” Rumsfeld grinned with sinister glee and pointed at the screen. “And we sure as hell will do a little better than some nonsense about ‘staying the course’ and ‘a thousand points of light.’” The Senator clicked the TV off with his remote and finished his drink.

    Dick Nixon looked at the younger man with an undeniable mix of pride and admiration. When the time came, he promised himself that he would train Rumsfeld as they marched toward the Oval Office once more. A fire was growing inside Nixon's cold black heart. The time had come for some "Real Republicans" to return sense to the party. He would call those young-ins Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Lee Atwater, and together, they would take back the Republican Party from these feel good sissies. And the best part of all? Nixon really believed that together with Rumsfeld, he could do it.

    1976 Republican Presidential Ticket: BUSH/REAGAN

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The General Election Campaign
    Chapter 104
  • Chapter 104: The Boys Are Back in Town - The 1976 Presidential Election

    Above: Congressman Morris K. Udall (D - AZ) and President George H.W. Bush (R - TX) during their third and final televised debate at the College of William & Mary on October 22nd, 1976.

    “Some politicians believe that when they have coined a slogan they have solved a problem. I am not one of those politicians.” - U.S. Representative Morris K. Udall (D - AZ)

    “History will point out some of the things I did wrong and some of the things I did right.” - President George H.W. Bush

    Despite a spirited primary challenge from Congresswoman Phyllis Schlafly (R - IL) leaving President Bush winded and deeply bitter about politics on the whole, he nonetheless entered the Fall campaign with several key advantages over his opponent, Congressman Udall. For starters, as the incumbent President, Bush had the privilege of presiding over numerous events celebrating the United States’ bicentennial, including a massive parade and display of fireworks on the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., which was televised across the nation. These and other events produced ample press coverage and dozens of editorials, the vast majority of which were favorable to the President, and showed him to be a “calm, steady hand” amidst a swirl of challenges and national uncertainty. The images of the President beneath scores of American flags and amidst dazzling military parades did a great deal to combat any charges of Bush being a “wimp” in the eyes of the American people. On July 7th, the President and First Lady played host at a White House State Dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip of the United Kingdom, which was also televised on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network. All throughout the evening, the President and First Lady showed themselves to be smiling, gracious hosts, and warmed the hearts of many with their easy banter with the Royal couple. These events, together with focusing on overseeing the Walker’s Point negotiations and managing bills on the Hill before the election, whilst leaving the majority of the actual campaigning to Vice President Reagan and other surrogates, were all parts of Bush’s “Rose Garden” strategy to win a second term. Instead of appearing to be a typical politician, out to get people’s votes, President Bush portrayed himself as an “experienced leader”, who was busy attending to the duties of his office as the country’s chief executive. It wouldn’t be until late September that the President would finally leave the White House to actively campaign on his own behalf. The fruits of his diplomatic labors, the Walkers Point Accords, were also a major win for the President with the American public, and seemed to prove that his strategy was paying off. He was not going to dignify opposition to his Administration with an active campaign. He had a country to run.

    Though the strategy initially worked, as the Accords between Israel and Egypt left the active news cycle, they were replaced with increasingly dire stories of average Americans suffering from the endlessly worsening economy, and grim forecasts from economists about the months to come. The Great Recession reached its fever pitch right as the election was approaching, with national unemployment capping at an astounding 12.2% in October, and the President seemingly “distracted” by presiding over parades and hosting state dinners. Though Congressman Udall did not approve of any attacks on the President personally, nor attacks on the Accords, which he considered to be a sterling accomplishment (sticking with his belief in the Navajo adage that “he who throws mud will lose ground”), Populist Democratic activists and operatives took it upon themselves to write scathing critiques of the President’s priorities, and demanded that voters “turn out in November and show Washington that we want real solutions to that fact that nearly one in eight of us are out of work!” Udall himself wisely told a reporter when asked about whether he considered foreign or domestic affairs to be more important in this election: “Both are of tremendous consequence. I don’t believe that you can claim that one is more important than the other. But people here at home are out of work and really feeling the hurt of this ailing economy. If elected, I will attend to the needs of the American people both at home and abroad, and get people back to work the very first day I sit in the Oval Office.” Though both campaigns received the standard bump in the polls after their respective conventions, the Democrats’ was far larger than the Republicans’, and only seemed to grow as the economy continued to languish throughout the race. By the end of August, Udall held a ten percent lead over Bush in most national polls. “We are grateful, no doubt,” the Congressman joked with reporters about his campaign’s surging popularity. “But like the unfortunate Arizona farmer once learned, we know better than to count our chickens before they hatch.”

    In contrast to the Republicans’ “Rose Garden” strategy, Udall and Governor Bentsen tirelessly barnstormed the nation, reaching out to thousands of communities, many of which had never been visited by a major Presidential ticket before. Udall made light of the strategy in an interview with Meet the Press, in which he borrowed an anecdote of the “Great Commoner” William Jennings Bryan to explain how he felt as the Democratic nominee giving a stump speech in a rural, typically Republican region of Minnesota.

    “Well back in 1896, Bryan dropped in on a farm, not unlike the ones that Governor Bentsen and I have been visiting, and introduced himself as the Democratic candidate for President. The farmer’s eyes lit up. ‘Wait ‘til I get my wife.’ He said. ‘We’ve never seen a Presidential candidate before!’ And a few minutes later, he was back with his wife and a few dozen of their friends, relatives, and neighbors, and they asked the Great Commoner if he would give them a speech. He said he would be delighted, but found he had no place to stand on from which he could deliver his remarks. He looked around for a kind of podium, something to stand on, but the only thing that was available was a pile of manure, nearly as tall as the farmhouse in which they lived. Bryan, not being above getting his hands a little dirty in the name of the greater good, climbed up on the pile and delivered one of his legendary, fiery speeches against the powers that be and standing up for the common man. Apparently, Bryan’s oration won the audience over, as after his speech they approached him and said, ‘Mr. Bryan, that was the first time we’ve ever heard such a compelling speech by a Democrat.’ ‘Thank you very much for your kind words,’ Bryan replied. ‘For that is the first time I have ever had to deliver a Democratic speech from a Republican platform.”

    Though Udall and Bentsen’s efforts to crisscross the country and shake as many hands as possible no doubt worked wonders to ingratiate them to the American people, it was the Congressman’s undeniable sense of humor which once again endeared him to many. Boasting a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of jokes, witty one-liners, and humorous anecdotes, Udall brought a desperately needed levity and with it, humanity, to the race. Explaining why he thought humor appropriate, even essential to his campaign, the Congressman said: “Effective humor is never cruel, ridiculing, or belittling. Ideally, it should be gentle, nudging at a weakness rather than exploiting a glaring personal shortcoming. The best jokes are those which make all of us laugh together at the vagaries of life or the human condition. Told well, the right joke can make everyone in the audience feel a little better about mankind, and a little closer to one another, and closer to the speaker. That’s why humor is still one of the healthiest exercises of a democracy, especially in tough times like these.” The American people warmed to this brotherly, hopeful message almost immediately. To a nation fearful of whether or not their economic health would ever recover in the wake of the recession and the ascendance of new economic powers in Germany, Japan, Mexico, and others, Udall’s good cheer and upbeat attitude evoked in many the lofty, idealistic rhetoric of John F. Kennedy, and even the booming laugh and contagious confidence of Franklin D. Roosevelt. As the weeks wore on, the Congressman continued to climb in the polls.

    That isn’t to suggest that Udall’s campaign was, as LBJ might have said “all sizzle and no steak”, however. Realizing that the President was being badly hurt in the press and public eye for lacking what Bush vaguely referred to as “the vision thing” - clear, specific policy proposals to address the nation’s woes, the Congressman came out swinging with a broad, progressive agenda. Udall’s platform featured as cornerstones: staunch advocacy for environmental protection and alternative energy sources to combat reliance on expensive foreign oil; celebration of immigrants and America’s growing sociocultural diversity; public works and education investments to combat unemployment; and an array of economic populism, including Udall’s signature policy proposal, Universal, single-payer health care, as enjoyed by citizens of the United Kingdom, Canada, and many other nations. Ever since losing his eye as a young boy due to his family’s inability to afford proper medical care, Udall had long believed in the need for health care to be considered a “fundamental human right”, and addressed as such through the creation of a national health care program. When pressed for specifics on his plan, Udall ultimately teamed with fellow Social Democrats Bayard Rustin, Ron Dellums, Bernie Sanders, and Ted Kennedy in calling for an expansion of the existing program, Medicare to include all Americans, of any age, who wanted to buy into the program through their taxes. To mollify moderates who were uncertain about such an increase in government responsibility, the Congressman assured the American people that under his proposed plan, private insurance would not be eliminated. Those with the means to purchase different or additional insurance outside of Medicare would still be able to do so. Meanwhile, the cost of healthcare for the average American would, in Udall’s words, “plummet”. To a public concerned about the rising costs of medical bills as they lost their jobs, such a program sounded like a real solution. Many had had about enough of private health insurance to begin with. Though some within his own party undoubtedly opposed such a proposal, Udall knew he could count on at least some Liberal Republicans to back it if elected, and he hoped to use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to push hard for what he considered “the single most important legislation I would back in my first 100 days in office.”

    For his part, the President eventually developed answers to questions about “the vision thing” as well. Bush denied that the Great Recession was solely the product of his administration’s strict deflationary monetary policies, and told a reporter that “any serious politician who says they would be doing anything different than I am with the Treasury is either foolish, or lying.” This bold stance angered some Americans, who blamed Secretary Friedman’s sky high interest rates for their inability to purchase homes through mortgages or invest in their businesses. On the other hand, Bush invigorated his base of supporters, who argued that what Bush had done with the Money supply was “brave” and “simply the right thing to do”. They started to make the case that while the Administration may not have done enough to fight unemployment, they were certainly making a large dent in inflation, and making sure that Americans’ buying power was restored after years of downward spiral. Against Udall’s calls for “bold action”, and “new solutions”, Bush touted slogans like “stay the course”, and told the American people that though times were tough, all they had to do was hang in there, and happier, easier days were soon to appear on the horizon. To Bush’s “Greatest Generation” mentality, this kind of “for the greater good” talk of sacrifice was supposed to make him appear Presidential, give him the look of a dignified moral leader. To many Americans, it began to look like the Commander in Chief was throwing in the towel and admitting defeat. To try and counter Udall’s easy-going manner and wise “western cowboy” image, Bush, when he did begin to actively campaign, appeared in a series of informal television appearances with Joe Garagiola, Sr., a retired baseball star for the St. Louis Cardinals and a well-known announcer for NBC sports. During the shows, Garagiola would ask Bush questions about his life and beliefs, as well as offer up questions from members of the audience from each of the major cities they were held in. The talks were so informal, relaxed, and laid-back, and Garagiola and Bush so clearly enjoyed each other’s company, that critics soon called these appearances the “George and Joe Show”. The two would remain close friends after the election, and Bush credited the announcer with getting him “back into this thing”, just in time for the first of three televised debates with the Congressman.

    Four years prior, in 1972, Senator Johnson and President Bush had both agreed not to hold televised debates, as they had not yet become an annual tradition, and neither LBJ nor GHWB felt that the spectacle was necessary in such an “important” election, following the assassination of President Romney. By 1976 however, the networks and National Committees of both parties believed that the people would demand debates, and that they give the candidates a chance to face off, before the public, to win their approval. Three debates were thus scheduled for the Presidential candidates, with a fourth to be held between Vice President Reagan and Governor Bentsen, to show off their ideas and skills as well. The witty, eloquent Udall was thrilled by the news, while the distant, sometimes awkward Bush began to worry that he would be eaten alive by his clever opponent. Bob Michel and Jeb Bush, the President’s own son and a senior advisor for the campaign, began to drill the President for an hour and a half each day on debate prep, trying to get him ready for any question which might be thrown his way. Meanwhile, Udall, Tim Kraft, and Mo’s older brother, Stewart went hard on their own debate prep as well. Neither candidate wanted to be outmatched in front of the nation on the issues. The first debate, held on September 23rd, was to be primarily centered on domestic issues. This was, of course, heavily in favor of Congressman Udall, whose policy proposals and campaign message were specifically tailored to address the nation’s growing concerns about the economy and the direction of the country at home. For 90 minutes, Udall and President Bush went toe to toe in front of Moderator Pauline Frederick of NPR and a panel of journalists who formulated and asked the questions. As agreed upon by both campaigns, the audience in attendance were asked to keep their noise and interruptions to a minimum while the candidates answered the questions. As Max Frankel of The New York Times read the first question to President Bush, about the recent unemployment figures and what, if reelected, his administration would do to combat them, Udall knew the debate would be his to lose. The President stumbled through an awkward forty-five second answer, when he had been given sixty to use if he’d wanted to. He reiterated his talking point about “staying the course” and “riding the storm out to better days ahead”. When it was his turn for a rebuttal, Congressman Udall flashed a big grin and countered, “Do we really want to tell the American people to stay the course when we know we’re going the wrong way?” The crowd erupted in laughter and applause, and the moderator was forced to ask them to settle down before the Congressman could continue his answer. The interaction left the President flustered, and his opponent did not let up, hammering him with wit, well-reasoned arguments, and a fair bit of oratorical flair. For instance, when asked to differentiate his economic proposals from those of the current administration, Udall mused:“For those of you who don’t understand the President’s economics, they’re based on the principle that the rich and the poor will get the same amount of ice. Under the President’s plan, however, the poor get all of theirs in winter.” On inflation: “We ought to turn inflation over to the post office. That’d slow it down.” And, more heartfelt when speaking about the environment: “I think politicians sometimes badly underestimate the true feelings that Americans have for this breathtaking land.” Though the President managed to effectively shrug off Udall’s charges that he was “fiscally reckless” by not paying for increased spending with additional taxes on the well to do and large corporations, he failed to effectively counter the Congressman’s clear, thorough understanding of the economic trials facing everyday Americans. Mo had been out on the road, talking to real people, learning about their issues and their struggles. Bush, by contrast, appeared cold and out of touch. By an overwhelming majority, the public and the media crowned Udall the clear winner of the first debate. His poll numbers shot up even further after the strong, jovial performance, giving him a nearly twenty point lead over the Bush/Reagan ticket by the first week of October. Bush knew he would need to strike back, hard, in the next debate if he was going to make up the lost ground.

    The President got his chance in San Francisco on October 6th, when the second debate, hosted by Edwin Newman of NBC News was held. Its focus? Foreign policy and defense issues, very much the President’s wheelhouse. While Congressman Udall managed to hold on and offer strong answers concerning his campaign’s beliefs on foreign policy (even as the Social Democrats who backed him were debating many of the issues amongst themselves), he simply couldn’t hope to keep up with Bush’s extensive knowledge and expertise. Bush laid out clear foreign policy objectives: contain Soviet aggression via soft power diplomacy and financial and military support to the “freedom fighters” in the Mujahideen in Afghanistan; encourage further economic and diplomatic ties with both the hopefully soon to be reunified Republic of Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China under Zhou Enlai; and continue to pressure South Africa to abandon its horrific apartheid policies via the ban on arms sales to them. Bush notably declined to endorse Representative Dellums’ bill to pass economic sanctions on South Africa, something Congressman Udall did promise to sign if elected. Bush’s strongest moment of the night arguably came during his closing statement, in which he declared: “My fellow Americans, just this summer, my administration negotiated an agreement which constitutes the first substantive step toward peace in the Middle East in more than a generation. You’ve heard a lot of words tonight from my opponent and myself. But actions always speak louder than words. Remember that some talk about change, my administration has done it. Please consider that, and the progress we have made in the past four years, when you cast your ballot this November.” Both men had given an admirable performance but in the end, the press and people agreed, the President hammered a strong win in this debate. Bush still had a long way to go if he was going to catch up with Udall and Bentsen in the polls, but his victory stopped the bleeding and showed the American people that he was smart and he was tough.

    The 1976 Vice Presidential debate, held next on October 15th in Houston, Texas, and moderated by James Hoge of The Chicago Sun Times, was, like its Presidential counterparts, a lively, spirited affair. Governor Bentsen was on his home turf in the Lone Star State, but Vice President Reagan came ready to do battle with a smile on his face. He knew he and the President were down in the polls. They needed some heavy artillery offense if they were going to claw their way back. The Vice President aimed to deliver, though he would employ his gently chiding, ever sunny wit in order to do so. While Reagan went on the offense from the outset, accusing the Udall/Bentsen ticket of “openly embracing socialism” and “coming the closest to left-wing extremism that our nation has ever seen”, the Vice President expected Bentsen to get defensive and roll around in the mud, at which point, Reagan would have already won. Instead, Bentsen simply denied the charge, and went on the offense against the administration and the “frankly lousy job” they’d been doing for the American people. Reagan was thrown off of his game and several times throughout the debate appeared confused or flustered by specific policy questions. Governor Bentsen meanwhile, stayed on task, answered questions politely and succinctly, all the while getting in occasional jabs at the President and Vice President’s policies as he did it. While Bentsen certainly wasn’t as witty as his Presidential candidate, he was certainly holding his own with Ronald Reagan. Perhaps the highlight of the debate came near the end of the night, when the Vice President was answering a question about “Heaven forbid, should the need ever arise, would he, given his history of deeply conservative politics and views, be able to be a President for all Americans?” Reagan smiled and turned to an old campaign tactic he’d used when asked similar questions at town halls across the country. He claimed that he “knew the American people, and believed his views weren’t as extreme as some claimed they were. Further,” Reagan added. “I firmly believe in that old adage of Harry Truman’s, ‘the buck stops here’. Like President Truman, who served ably as Vice President to Franklin Roosevelt, I believe that should, God forbid, the need ever arise, I would be able to assume the office of President for all Americans.” Bentsen apparently took issue with Reagan’s answer, as he had in debate prep sessions when he learned that Reagan had taken to comparing himself to Truman at every opportunity on the campaign trail, hoping to appeal to working class, blue collar Democrats who longed for a return to Truman’s style and candor. The Texan struck back, starting his rebuttal with the infamous takedown: “Mr. Vice President, I served with Harry Truman. I knew Harry Truman. Harry Truman was a friend of mine. Mr. Vice President, you’re no Harry Truman.” The audience broke into laughter and applause at the line, giving Bentsen a strong platform on which to base his real rebuttal: “You don’t stand for the common man, the workers and everyday people of this country. Harry Truman stood for a Fair Deal. Mr. Vice President, what do you stand for?” Reagan had given the debate his all, but in the end, Bentsen was just too wily and well prepared for his assault. Bentsen was declared the winner.

    The third and final Presidential debate, hosted by ABC News’ Barbara Walters on October 22nd in Williamsburg, Virginia was seen as “make or break” time by the Bush/Reagan camp. Just as the President had built some momentum with his win in the foreign policy debate, the Vice President had lost it by coming up short against Governor Bentsen. Now, nearly fifteen points behind the Democrats’ once more, and with national economic forecasts only seeming to get worse by the day, Bush vowed to give the last debate everything he had left in the tank. Needless to say, the President went into the debate nervous. He stumbled during an early answer, producing a minor, if humorous gaffe: “For three and a half years, I’ve worked with Vice President Reagan. We’ve had triumphs, made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex... uh... setbacks.” Fortunately, Congressman Udall was gentle, letting the opportunity to pile on go in the spirit that “humor should never belittle or demean”. He did, however, criticize the President’s campaign for its “lack of concrete plans to bring about an economic recovery.” To this, the President replied, “the free market is our plan for a recovering economy. Freedom works.” Though his answer pleased hardcore conservatives, this answer rang hollow yet again to a public largely dismissive of the administration’s promises that it was working to combat the economic crisis. In the end, Udall delivered a wonderfully humble, disarming closing statement, saying, “The worst thing they can think of to say about me is that I’m too funny to be President. Well let me tell you, as Will Rogers would say, ‘Everything is changing. People are taking comedians seriously, and the politicians as a joke, when it used to be vice versa.’ If elected I offer this country everything I’ve got - and hopefully a few laughs along the way too.” Udall was once again declared the winner and as they shook hands to thank each other that night, Bush came to believe that he was heading into an abysmal election night. He and the Vice President fought as hard as they could, but in the end, the country was ready for a change.

    Democrats across the nation rejoiced. After eight years of a divided Congress and Republican rule from the White House, they rode a wave of populist anger against the Bush-era malaise all the way to majorities in both Houses of Congress and a newly minted Democratic Administration. At that, Mo Udall showed tremendous promise as a leader, and a uniter. To a country weary from economic hardship and violence in the news, the President-elect from Arizona carried a sense of optimism and most importantly, hope with him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The mood was decidedly glum and subdued meanwhile at the Bush Family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where only months before the President had made history by negotiating the Walker’s Point Accords. Part of George H.W. Bush had expected this outcome, yet another nonetheless hoped to the very end that his predictions of doom were overstated and he and the Vice President could somehow eek out a narrow victory from the jaws of defeat, just like he and President Romney had done back in 1968. His first call was to “Ronnie”, his number two and perhaps closest friend in the world, to thank him for everything he had done and apologize for coming up short in the end. “Don’t apologize for any of it, Mr. President.” Reagan replied. “You fought and you were right. They wanted something else. What else can you do?” After a tearful huddle with Babs, Dubya, Hillary, Jeb, and the rest of the Bush clan, the President then called Congressman Udall to concede the race and wish him the very best in the years to come. “We are all counting on you.” He told his lanky opponent. “The fate of the country, the entire free world rests on your shoulders now. My hopes, prayers, and thoughts are utterly with you.”

    Udall was initially speechless at the President’s grace in defeat. He thanked him with equal magnanimity, and said that “from this day and for the rest of our lives, I hope that we may consider ourselves friends.”

    “I would like that too, very much.” Bush replied.

    The moment, one of the first in a long series of poignant instances of Udall’s Presidency, was captured in a soon to be beloved photograph for Time Magazine, by a 19 year old intern and student of Radcliffe College at Harvard. Her name? Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, eldest child of former President John F. Kennedy, and increasingly, a young woman feeling tremendous pressure to decide exactly what she should do with her life. Since her father left office in 1969, Kennedy enjoyed the relative peace and quiet which came with growing up outside of the White House and the Washington media parade. Though she was still a Kennedy, and that name alone brought paparazzi and unwanted attention wherever she went, she managed to avoid it somewhat easier than her younger siblings, John, Rosemary, and Robert, who along with their Mother and Father seemed unable to escape the ever present cameras. Despite a natural inclination toward the arts, Kennedy had agreed to cover the Udall campaign for Time because her father seemed so genuinely excited by Mo as a candidate. After years of worsening health and quiet suffering, he seemed a little like his old self again. He even managed to make a few public appearances to speak in Udall’s favor, something his family had previously no longer thought possible. Caroline wondered at the ability of words, policy, and the public arena to move people, stronger perhaps than even the finest painting or most beautiful piece of music. There was real passion in politics, and despite her quiet personality, she felt herself being swept up by it. By the time election night 1976 had come and gone, Caroline called her father and told him what she was going to do. When she returned to Harvard, she switched majors to Political Science, and prepared for the path to Law School.

    In his victory speech outside his family’s home in Tucson, a jubilant, smiling Udall thanked President Bush and the Republicans for a “spirited, honest, uplifting campaign” and vigorously rallied his supporters with another favorite anecdote. “Tonight,” the President-elect began. “I am reminded of a statement by that great American, Nelson Rockefeller of New York. He once declared, ‘I have been both rich and poor, and I can honestly say that being rich is better.’ To all of you here and now on this triumphant night, I say that I have won and I have lost, and winning is a whole lot better!” The crowd roared its approval and chanted “Udall! Udall!” for a solid twenty minutes before the night’s victor was escorted by the Secret Service back to his bedroom so that he could catch some much needed shut-eye before the real, critical work of the transition would begin the following day. Udall, famous for his laid-back, good natured attitude, was eager to appear vigorous and ready to tackle the country’s problems. He would meet with the defeated President Bush in the morning to begin discussions on transition between their administrations. As it had for generations before in this uncommonly functional democracy we cherish in the United States of America, the peaceful transition of power was laid in place. The people had spoken; and their leadership would listen. Freedom had worked its magic again. As they worked to discuss the transition and ensure the smooth transfer over to the incoming Udall Administration, the President and President-elect made good on their promise to become friends. Images of the pair shaking hands, laughing at each other’s jokes, and evenly openly embracing demonstrated a clear lack of malice between even the country’s leading politicians. These were widely spread in the press and are credited with helping to ease tensions and clear the air after years of rising political gridlock, friction, and animosity in the country. Perhaps the icing on the cake, stories would later emerge of a beautiful, gracious letter which President Bush left for his successor. This began a Presidential precedent which remains unbroken to this day. The text of that letter, which Udall found on the Resolute Desk on the day of his Inauguration, was as follows:

    “Dear Mo,

    When I walked into this office just now, I felt the same sense of wonder, respect, and responsibility that I felt five years ago. I know you will feel that too.

    I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness which some Presidents have described.

    There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give out advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

    You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

    Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

    Good luck -


    It is often said by historians that President George Herbert Walker Bush entered the Oval Office on a wave of tears and left it on a wave of jeers. Throughout his five and a half years as President, Bush strove first and foremost to build bridges. He labored to heal the nation’s wounds in the wake of hardship and tragedy. He was a hero of the Second World War, who earnestly fought for peace in the Middle East and in Latin America. Though considered one of America’s least popular Chief Executives when he left office on January 20th, 1977, history and its students have since left him more favorable reviews. While he receives low marks for his oratory, ability to inspire, convince, and effectively lead and sway public opinion, he, along with John F. Kennedy, is considered arguably the finest foreign policy President of the post World War II era. Though his administration’s monetary policies were horrifically unpopular at the time, deepened the Great Recession, and ultimately cost him what should have been an easy second term of his own, economists would later credit Bush with having the “guts” to do what was economically right in the long-term for the country. Because Bush and Secretary Friedman managed to slay inflation across their four years of high interest rates and difficult decisions, the economy would roar back to life in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, with productivity and real purchasing power for middle and working class Americans both increasing simultaneously. Few average Americans give President Bush credit for making this recovery possible, but without his tough calls and courage to face public criticism, it is possible that the “Great Udall Economy” of the 1980’s would never have been possible. As is tragically so often the case, Bush was simply a poor salesman for his policies, and his out of touch, ivy league demeanor made him a hard sell to millions of Americans looking for a charismatic, feel good Commander in Chief. Because of his efforts in creating the Walker’s Point Accords, President Bush would share the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize with Anwar al-Sadat and Yitzak Rabin, becoming the third U.S. President (after Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy) to achieve that prize. After leaving the White House, President Bush lived a mostly quiet life with his family outside of the public eye. He would occasionally enter the headlines once again for his interest in sky-diving and thrill seeking - his post Presidential hobby; as well as for shaving his head in solidarity with a young boy suffering from cancer in the mid 2000’s. He also, along with his lifelong friend and successor, President Udall, would support a myriad of charities and philanthropic causes throughout the rest of his life. President Bush would pass away peacefully on November 30th, 2018, at the age of 94. To date, he remains the longest lived U.S. President in history, and though not close to considered one of the “all time greats” like Lincoln, FDR, or Washington, he is generally well regarded by many historians, and often ranks in the top half of American Presidents in terms of performance.

    "No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit." - George H.W. Bush, 37th President of the United States.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The 1976 Down Ballot Races
    Chapter 105
  • Chapter 105: More Than a Feeling - The 1976 Down Ballot Races

    Above: Congresswoman-Elect Fannie Lou Hammer (D - MS) and Congressman-Elect Bayard Rustin (D - PA), two of many African American representatives first elected in the midst of Mo Udall’s triumphant 1976 Presidential campaign. Congressman-Elect Harvey Milk (D - CA) and Rustin would become the first openly gay members of the United States Congress. Though they came from different wings of the Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Hammer and the Social Democratic Rustin and Milk would leave tremendous legacies on their party, and the nation in general, for years to come.

    Unlike two years ago, when the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan had given President Bush and his Republican Party modest gains in both houses of Congress as a result of public trust in his foreign policy prowess, 1976 and its “Democratic Wave” were firmly, unequivocally the result of domestic grievances and woes. After a long, spirited campaign season, the American public simply believed that the GOP had not done enough to answer the troubling questions about the country’s future in their eight years in the White House under Presidents Romney and Bush. In accordance with Congressman Udall’s progressive vision for the nation’s future, Democrats up and down the ticket temporarily put their internal disagreements about social policy on hold and turned their focus toward attacking the Republicans, especially on economic issues. Udall’s campaign strategy obviously paid off, as “bread and butter” messaging sold candidates like hot cakes from the Deep South to the Industrial Heartland, from the farms and fields of the Great Plains, to the massive metropolitan hubs of the East and West Coast. This isn’t to say that voters had no interest in foreign policy. President Bush’s impressive achievement in negotiating the Walker’s Point Accords, continued Soviet Aggression (including the still ongoing War in Afghanistan), as well as rising tensions and conflict in the Middle East all made the “top ten” list of most cited issues by voters in exit polls. Far more frequently, however, issues like “taxes”, “the economy”, and of course, “jobs” filled the top slots. While the GOP mostly parroted the Administration’s talking points about “staying the course” and “weathering the storm”, Democrats took out their hatchets and went to work, picking apart Republican candidates’ plans and proposals (or lack thereof) and even managing to split GOP voters, by turning the party’s more conservative and libertarian base against its more liberal wing. In several races, liberal Republicans disappointed with what they saw as the President’s inaction were swayed to jump ship and back the Democratic candidate instead. In races all across this nation, this cross-party voting proved to be the GOP’s downfall.

    With the economy reaching the darkest depths of the Great Recession, the Democrats were correct in their belief that they could easily take back the House of Representatives. Despite surprise GOP victories in the lower house in ‘72 and ‘74, Speaker Gerald R. Ford (R - MI) knew that he had little chance of holding onto his majority. What he and the other leaders of the Congressional Republicans could not have predicted however was the sixty seat swing which would sweep into office with the new President-elect, giving Mo Udall an 87 seat majority with which to craft legislation to make his progressive vision for bringing the country back to prosperity a reality. Biting at the chomps to finally get into the ring as the head of Democtatic leadership on the Hill, the tall Irish Liberal from Boston with a heart of gold, Tip O’Neill (D - MA), became the newly minted Speaker of the House, with dedicated progressive Patsy Mink (D - HI) becoming the first female House Majority Leader, and first Asian-American to rise to such a high rank in Congress as well. Hoping to strike a balance between the wings of the Party to ensure as strong a governing coalition as possible and prevent infighting, House Democrats then elected moderate centrist Congressman Jim Wright of Texas as House Majority Whip. Political writers, analysts, and pundits were near unanimous in their praise for the Democrats’ strategies. “This,” wrote California Governor Jimmy Roosevelt (D) in an editorial to The Washington Post, “Is how you win an election!” All in all, tough, progressive messaging combined with a strong ground game and outreach effort to lead to an unexpectedly lopsided election season. “The Spirit of ‘76” as it came to be known would forever afterward be remembered as one of the Democratic Party’s “shining moments” - a point referenced by all future campaigns as they attempted to recapture Mo Udall’s popular triumph. This isn’t to say that the new President-elect would not still struggle with his share of difficulties, however. Far from it. Indeed, Udall’s promises of a “better, brighter future” included proposals for a national employment guarantee, trust busting (especially against ‘too big to fail’ banks), reform of the “draconian” drug laws of the Romney and Bush administrations, and most prominently of all - universal, single payer healthcare, modeled on the national systems in Canada and the United Kingdom. Such initiatives were widely popular with the American people, but faced skepticism, if not outright hostility from the GOP and more conservative and moderate Democrats. If Udall was going to deliver on any of these starry eyed promises, he would need to hone his skills as a master negotiator, and wield the bully pulpit of the Presidency effectively to channel public anger at the economic establishment. For the easy going Arizona environmentalist, it was going to require one hell of an “on the job training regimen”.

    U.S. House of Representatives (218 Needed for a Majority):

    Democrats: 261 Seats (+60)

    Republicans: 174 Seats (-60)

    Tip O’Neill (D - MA), Speaker of the House of Representatives

    House Leadership:

    Speaker of the House: Tip O’Neill (D - MA)

    House Majority Leader: Patsy Mink (D - HI)

    House Majority Whip: Jim Wright (D - TX)

    House Minority Leader: Gerald R. Ford (R - MI)

    House Minority Whip: John Jacob Rhodes (R - AZ)

    The Democrats may have retaken the House and grown their majority in the Senate, but in exchange, it cost them a titan of the legislature. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana had served in the upper chamber for twenty-four years, the last sixteen of which as Majority leader for a beleaguered, but ultimately victorious Democratic Party. A laconic liberal icon, Mansfield’s shrewd management of his vote count helped President Kennedy turn the 1960’s into the Wonder Years that they were, and prevented the 1970’s from descending into a full slide toward the political right under Presidents Romney and Bush. Though the Party establishment were loathe to see Mansfield go, at 73 years of age, the Montana Senator was ready to step aside and let the new generation take up the reins, so that he could spend more time with his family. To try and fill his shoes, and continuing in the spirit of unity which pervaded the Party since the convention in New York, current Majority Whip Russell B. Long (D - LA), the party’s leading Southern populist, was elected as the new Senate Majority Leader, with his previous chief rival, the narrowly reelected Edward M. Kennedy (D - MA) taking his prior post as Senate Majority Whip. Though Long and Kennedy had had their share of differences in the past, both were in firm agreement of the need for a system of universal health care, as well as expansion and reworkings of New Deal and New Frontier era policies to keep them current and reactive to the challenges facing the United States in the latter half of the 1970’s. On the Republican side, outgoing Minority Leader Hugh Scott’s hand picked successor, the moderate dealmaker Howard Baker (R - TN) was handily elected to succeed him, with defense expert and bright rising star Senator Donald Rumsfeld (R - IL) as Minority Whip. With the House largely secure with Speaker O’Neill’s large majority, President-elect Udall swiftly turned his attention during the transition time allotted for strategy on the Hill toward identifying remaining liberal Republicans with whom the administration could work.

    Senate Majority Leader Russell B. Long (D - LA)

    The Senate of the 95th Congress:

    Democrats (Majority): 56 Seats (+5)

    Republicans (Minority): 44 Seats (-5)


    John J. Sparkman (D)

    James B. Allen (D)


    Theodore F. Stevens (R)

    Frank Murkowski (R)


    Barry Goldwater (R)

    Dennis DeConcini (D) - Defeated Sam Stieger for open seat. D Gain.


    John L. McClellan (D)

    Dale Bumpers (D)


    John V. Tunney (D) - Narrowly reelected over Sam Hayawaka. D Hold

    Shirley Temple Black (R)


    Gordon L. Allott (R)

    Gary Hart (D)


    Abraham A. Ribicoff (D)

    Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (R) - Reelected over Gloria Schaffer. R hold.


    Joseph Biden (D)

    Thomas Maloney (D) - Narrowly defeated incumbent William Roth. D Gain.


    Lawton Chiles (D) - Reelected over John Grady. D hold.

    Jack Eckerd (R)


    Sam Nunn (D)

    James Earl Carter (D)


    Daniel K. Inouye (D)

    Spark Matsunaga (D) - Reelected over William Quinn. D Hold.


    Frank F. Church (D)

    James A. McClure (R)


    Charles H. Percy (R)

    Donald Rumsfeld (R)


    Richard Lugar (R) - Reelected over former Senator Vance Hartke. R Hold.

    Edgar Whitcomb (R)


    Jack R. Miller (R)

    David M. Stanley (R)


    James B. Pearson (R)

    Bob Dole (R)


    Walter B. Huddleston (D)

    Wendell Ford (D)


    Russell B. Long (D)

    John McKeithen (D)


    Margaret Chase Smith (R)

    Edmund Muskie (D) - Reelected over Robert A G Monks. D Hold.


    Spiro T. Agnew (R)

    Paul Sarbanes (D) - Defeated incumbent John Glenn Beall. D Gain.


    Edward M. Kennedy (D) - Narrowly reelected over Michael Robertson. D Hold.

    Silvio O. Conte (R)


    Robert P. Griffin (R)

    Donald Riegle (D) - Elected to fill the seat left by retiring incumbent Hart. D Hold.


    Hubert Humphrey (D)

    Wendell R. Anderson (D) - Elected to replace retiring incumbent McCarthy. D Hold


    James O. Eastland (D)

    John C. Stennis (D) - Ran unopposed for reelection. D Hold.


    Thomas F. Eagleton (D)

    Jerry Litton (D)* - Elected to fill retiring Symington’s seat. D Hold.


    Henry S. Hibbard (R)

    Jack Melcher (D) - Elected to fill retiring Mansfield’s seat. D Hold.


    Carl T. Curtis (R)

    Edward Zorinsky (D) - Elected to fill retiring Hruska’s seat. D Gain.


    Howard W. Cannon (D) - Reelected over David Towell. D Hold.

    Paul Laxalt (R)

    New Hampshire

    Thomas J. McIntyre (D)

    Louis Wyman (R)

    New Jersey

    Clifford P. Case (R)

    Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D) - Reelected over David Norcross. D Hold.

    New Mexico

    Pete Domenici (R)

    Harrison Schmitt (R) - Defeated incumbent Montoya. R Gain.

    New York

    Robert F. Kennedy (D) - Narrowly reelected over U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp. D Hold.

    Ramsey Clark (D)

    North Carolina

    J. Terry Sanford (D)

    Jesse Helms (R)

    North Dakota

    Milton R. Young (R)

    Quentin M. Burdick (D) - Reelected over Robert Stroup. D Hold.


    John Glenn (D) - Reelected over Ralph Perk. D Hold.

    Robert Taft, Jr. (R)


    Dewey F. Bartlett (R)

    Henry Bollman (R)


    Mark O. Hatfield (R)

    Bob Packwood (R)


    Richard Schweiker (R)

    William J. Green III (D) - Filled open seat left by retiring Scott. D Gain.

    Rhode Island

    John Chafee (R)

    Richard P. Lorber (D) - Filled open seat left by retiring Pastore. D Hold.

    South Carolina

    Strom Thurmond (R)

    Ernest Hollings (D)

    South Dakota

    James Abourezk (D)

    Leo Thorsness (R)


    Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R)

    James Sasser (D) - Elected to fill the open seat left by retiring Gore. D Hold.


    Barefoot Sanders (D)

    Audie Murphy (D) - Elected to fill the seat left by retiring Smith. D Hold.


    Jake Garn (R)

    Orrin Hatch (R) - Defeated incumbent Moss. R Gain.


    Richard W. Mallary (R)

    Patrick Leahy (D) - Defeated Incumbent Stafford. D Gain.


    Elmo Zumwalt (D) - Defeated Incumbent Byrd. D Hold.

    William L. Scott (R)


    Warren G. Magnuson (D)

    Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (D) - Reelected over George Brown. D Hold.

    West Virginia

    Jennings Randolph (D)

    Robert C. Byrd (D) - Ran unopposed for reelection. D Hold.


    William Proxmire (D) - Reelected over Stanley York. D Hold.

    Gaylord A. Nelson (D)


    Clifford P. Hansen (R)

    Gale McGee (D) - Reelected over Malcolm Wallop. D Hold.

    Other Races of Note:

    Due to Texas Governor Lloyd Bentsen (D) being elected Vice President of the United States, rancher, and former member of the Texas House of Representatives Dolph Briscoe (D) is elected to serve as his successor.

    One of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II and now a fierce advocate for Veterans and those suffering from Post traumatic stress disorder across the nation, Congressman Audie Murphy of Texas (D) was elected to replace the retiring Preston Smith (D), who in turn had been appointed by Governor Bentsen to replace Lyndon Johnson after he passed away. Congressman, now Senator Murphy’s chief aim is the creation of a cabinet level position for Veterans’ Affairs.

    With one of the narrowest margins of victory in the history of the State of Vermont (requiring three official recounts to confirm his win - by just 10 votes), 35 year old carpenter, Social Democrat, former HeadStart teacher and anti-war and civil rights activist Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (D) is elected Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Dedicated to preserving life in rural America and leading the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction, Bernie’s grassroots, “people first” campaign shocked the nation when its shoe-string budget and dedicated volunteers managed to overcome the incumbent Democrat, Gordon Paquette.

    Elected for the first time to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the heart of Chicago, Reverend Jesse Jackson (D - IL), would become a passionate voice for social justice and continued Civil Rights action in the Democratic Party. Young, intensely energetic, and charismatic, Jackson has a very bright future ahead of him in politics. For the time being, he works to build his “Rainbow Coalition” of various minority groups, including: African Americans; Hispanic Americans; Arab-Americans; Asian Americans; Native Americans; family farmers; the poor, and the working class; as well as European American Progressives who wanted to see the Democratic Party continue to embrace its modern New Deal roots.

    Also reelected and hoping to bring the Republican Party in a more Libertarian direction, Representative Ron Paul (R) of Texas makes good on his nickname “Dr. No”, proudly touting to his constituents his refusal to back “this Administration’s tax and spend nonsense”. He pledges to do the same against the incoming President-Elect Udall.

    In a year of rampant Democratic victories, the GOP found a breath of fresh air in New Mexico’s U.S. Senate Race, where Apollo-Svarog XVII Astronaut Harrison Schmitt (R) defeated two-term incumbent Joseph Montoya to help stop the bleeding in the upper chamber. A moderate Republican, Schmitt seeks a seat on the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space.

    While her husband serves as a Junior Executive partner at nearby Lockheed Martin, Hillary Rodham Bush (R) finds success in her first election where her Presidential father in law could not. She wins her first public office as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates at the age of 29. Young, vivacious, and full of energy, Hillary used her twin children, Prescott and Chelsea, as proof of her “tough Mom” campaign image.

    Proving his political gambit of jumping ship from the Bush Administration to be a success, former White House Chief of Staff Richard “Dick” Cheney (R) is elected to represent his home state of Wyoming’s at-large Congressional District. He will quickly seek to grow his own power base and has his eyes set on a long term House leadership position.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: 1976 Draws to a Close
    Chapter 106
  • Chapter 106: Rock & Roll All Nite - 1976 Around the World

    As the 1970’s wore on, the Sino-Soviet split began to escalate, leaving the Communist world bitterly divided and coming very close on several occasions to full scale war between the world’s major Marxist powers. Begun under Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zeidong in the late 1950’s amidst the former’s policies of destalinization, the split deepened throughout the following decade, as Chairman Mao distrusted and later, openly denounced the Soviet leader’s pursuit of detente with the West under President Kennedy, and launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966 to purge all non-Maoist political thought from the country. Within two years however, Mao saw the writing on the wall and knew that his bluff had been called by Khrushchev. Mao could whip his people into a frenzy, march with them, have them parade, scream until he was red in the face about Khrushchev being a “revisionist” and a “traitor to orthodox Marxism”. In the end, the Soviet economy was growing faster than the PRC’s thanks to Alexei Kosygin’s decentralization programme, and the Soviet people were, on the whole, happier than their Chinese comrades. East-West cooperation would soon lead to a joint Soviet-American Mission to the Moon, and a marked decrease in tensions as the Soviets agreed to withdraw their support of North Vietnam in exchange for the Americans agreeing to withdraw their support for the South. As Nikita Khrushchev put it when replying to Mao’s accusations that the Soviet people were “soft” in the wake of Khrushchev’s emphasis on consumer goods: “If we could promise the people nothing, except revolution, they would scratch their heads and say: ‘Isn’t it better to have good goulash?’.” In awe of the rapidly thawing conflict around him, Mao realized that his stubborn, Stalinist outlook was quickly becoming outmoded, and so soon opened back channel dialogues with President Kennedy via the CIA and State Department. Though Kennedy and Mao managed to reach a reasonable agreement for rapprochement with the help of Secretary of State Robert McNamara, thanks to Yuri Andropov’s rise to power in the USSR, and Mao’s swift assassination and removal by the Chinese Politburo under Lin Baio, the Sino-Soviet split would continue to escalate, with Andropov and Biao’s hardline approaches to Marxism heightening tensions in Asia once again. China's newfound status as a Nuclear power (having successfully tested its first A-bomb in December of 1964) did little to stem worries about conflict between the Communist powers, and though Nikita Khrushchev had been willing to work with China on a more cooperative basis. Yuri Andropov saw the PRC as rivals for leadership within the Communist world, and therefore, the USSR’s mortal enemies, just as much as the United States.

    As these hostilities increased, in 1969, the Soviet Army massed several dozen divisions along the 2,720 mile border with China, mostly at the Xinjiang frontier, in north-west China, where the Soviets hoped they might readily induce the local Turkic peoples into a separatist insurrection. Back in ‘61, the Soviets had stationed 12 divisions of soldiers and 200 fighter planes at that border, by ‘69, the Soviet Union had stationed six divisions of soldiers in Outer Mongolia and 16 divisions, 1,200 fighters, and 120 medium-range missiles at the Soviet-Chinese border to confront 47 light divisions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA); by March of 1970, the border confrontations escalated into the Sino-Soviet border conflict (March 2nd – September 11th, 1970), which featured fighting at the Ussuri River, the Zhenbao Island incident, and at Tielieketi. Thankfully, the conflict remained limited to mostly small skirmishes and was swiftly brought to an end, thanks in part to a ceasefire agreement mediated by the then Secretary of State Richard Nixon. This permanently settled the status of the two countries’ borders, and opened the door to Zhou Enlai’s rise to power and eventually, President George Bush’s decision to “open” the country in 1973. Though the world had avoided an incredibly close brush with nuclear war, and the pragmatic Chairman Zhou was once again willing to work to build a better relationship with the Soviet Union, First Secretary Andropov remained cold, distant, aloof.

    He continued to prove a thorn in the side of the PRC’s goals, countering Chinese influence in Third World proxy conflicts such as the Angolan Civil War by backing rival Marxist rebel groups to those chosen by the PRC for aid. Despite the differences between them, as Zhou Enlai began to formulate plans for his succession and the possibility of experimentation with a Socialist Market economy in China, Andropov simultaneously began to push for similar reforms in his own country. As much as Andropov staunchly opposed political liberalization, he saw the benefits of opposing bureaucracy and corruption within his state, as well as considering the possibility of switching tact in foreign policy toward using the KGB to covertly aid "fraternal socialist brothers" rather than sending expensive material aid. Though Zhou had managed to keep tensions between their countries to a minimum, despite the continued buildup of arms and divisions at the border and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1974, there was only so much that the aging statesman in Beijing could do. He could control his military and state apparatus, but the Chinese people, angered by years of receiving patronising and dismissive treatment by the Soviets, soon took matters into their own hands.

    On April 29th, 1976, a concealed bomb exploded at the gates of the Soviet embassy in Beijing, killing four Chinese civilians as they passed by on the street. Though no Soviets were killed in the attack, the target, according to a note left by the terrorist perpetrators on the scene, had been Vasily Tolskitov, the Soviet Ambassador, whose car just barely avoided being blown up when the Ambassador returned to work from lunch early. Zhou’s government was quick to denounce the attack and offer whatever aid it could in rebuilding the damaged embassy, but First Secretary Andropov was still livid. “Who are these Chinese, who feel they can lecture us on true Marxism?!” He declared to his politburo. “We, not they, are the true sons and daughters of the Revolution!” The incident would, thankfully, not lead to conflict between the countries, but it would strengthen the relationships between the USSR and Pakistan, as well as the PRC and India. While territorial disputes between China and India would continue to bog down their relationship throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the common threat of Pakistan and the Soviets was enough to bolster the bonds between New Delhi and Beijing, as well as isolate Pakistan and the USSR from two potentially lucrative trade partners. By the end of the decade, China and India would be on their way to continued industrialization and prosperity. The Soviet Union would be facing severe economic hardship.


    While the United Kingdom’s economy languished under stagflation in much the same manner as their “special” ally’s across the Pond: the United States, the Troubles in Northern Ireland saw, according to The Times of London, “One of the bloodiest years of the conflict” in 1975. Sectarian killings reached an all time high, and internal feuding between the various Nationalist and Unionist paramilitary groups made the violence that much more atrocious and difficult to understand. On July 31st, 1975 at Buskhill, outside Newry, the popular Irish cabaret band “The Miami Showband” was returning home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge when it was ambushed by gunmen from the UVF wearing British Army uniforms at a bogus military checkpoint along the main A1 road. Three of the band members, two Catholics and a Protestant, were shot dead, while two of the UVF men were killed when the bomb they had loaded onto the band's minibus detonated prematurely. The following January, eleven Protestant workers were gunned down in Kingsmill, South Armagh after having been ordered off their bus by an armed republican gang. One man miraculously survived despite being shot 18 times, leaving ten fatalities and the nation to only mourn ever more deeply. These killings were reportedly in retaliation to a loyalist double shooting against the Reavey and O'Dowd families the previous night. Meanwhile, throughout the year, bombs detonated in London, Manchester, and other British cities, as the PIRA, led by figures such as Dolours Price, Brendan Hughes, and “chief strategist” Gerry Adams, continued its “homefront” campaign to try and scare the British people into supporting a united and fully independent Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland were learning the awful truth about the cycle of violence. Meanwhile, in Dublin and London, the question of what exactly to do about the escalating fighting was seeing intense debate in the Halls of Parliament. Though British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to return political status to republican paramilitary prisoners, a common demand of the PIRA and other nationalist groups (and cause of frequent PIRA hunger strikes), she did believe that the time had come for the UK to take a more active role in negotiating a peace. On April 6th, 1976, Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave announced the creation of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council, a forum for meetings between the two governments, especially over the issues pertaining to Northern Ireland. Agreeing with Cosgrave’s appraisal that “war-weariness” was beginning to settle in on both sides of the conflict, Thatcher’s government went to work crafting a ceasefire, which they hoped would see an end to the violence for at least a period of several years. This did little to please either side, but as both were hurting and in need of a reprieve to regroup and resupply, the talks were somewhat successful. Though the ‘76 Ceasefire as it came to be known would not be the end of the Troubles, they did bring about a peace which would last until 1978. For two years, few people were killed in the name of sectarian conflict in Ireland, giving both Cosgrave and Thatcher much needed time to focus on their own respective domestic issues as well.

    For Thatcher the single biggest issue facing the British people was the country’s ailing economy. This she blamed principally on the dreaded Keynesian consensus which had emerged between the Labour and Conservative parties in the aftermath of the Second World War. Favoring privatization and staunchly monetarist economics, the new Prime Minister rejected much of the economic policy of her predecessor, Randolph Churchill, and instead instituted new programmes inspired by the work of U.S. Treasury Secretary Milton Friendman. Thatcher’s government, under her new Chancellor, Geoffrey Howe, lowered direct taxes on income and increased indirect taxes (which disproportionately affected the poor and working classes). She increased interest rates to slow the growth of the money supply and thereby lower inflation, introduced cash limits on public spending, and reduced expenditure on social services such as education and housing. This last change lead to her infamous nickname from Leader of the Opposition Denis Healey - “Thatcher the Milk Snatcher” - due to the decreases in free school lunches her government instituted. These policies, similarly to President Bush’s in the United States, certainly served to combat inflation, but also caused unemployment in Britain to skyrocket, leading to protests and dropping the Tories’ approval ratings to as low as 23% by the end of 1976. To make matters worse for the average Briton, Thatcher and Howe’s attempts to stimulate economic growth primarily relied on the sale/privatization of state-controlled industries and the near complete deregulation of the financial market and London stock exchange. Though opposed by Heath-ite Conservatives and denounced outright by Labour, these moves managed to slip their way through Parliament, resulting in short term cash infusions for the government, followed by years of corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency, and private monopolization in the water, gas, steel, and electricity industries to be endured by British consumers. Though, to her credit, Thatcher resisted calls to privatize British Rail, which she claimed would be “the Waterloo of this government” if attempted. Next, Thatcher took on the next of her “great enemies to liberty” - organized labour. Thatcher believed that organized labour, and especially trade unions, were harmful to both ordinary trade unionists and the public She was committed to reducing the power of the unions, whose leadership she accused of undermining parliamentary democracy and economic performance through frequent and devastating strike action. Though Thatcher attempted to frame legislation aimed at limiting union power as “winning power back to the people”, most working class Britons saw through her gambit. Labour leader Healey, himself the son of a dedicated trade unionist, rallied opposition to the bills and managed to see them defeated in the House of Commons. “We may not have been able to stop privatization,” Healey exclaimed. “But Maggie has another thing coming if she believes we will allow our rights to be taken away!” Meanwhile, Healey and his Labour Party built a case for Thatcher’s removal around the fact that her “draconian” austerity measures slashed social services, but did not lay so much as a finger on the “bloated” defence budget left over from the days of the Rhodesian War. In fact, Thatcher’s proposed budget for 1977 included increases in defence spending, which Healey decried as “a thinly veiled return to British imperialism”.


    Having been swept into power in 1974’s Federal elections by a country deeply dissatisfied with then Liberal Prime Minister John Turner’s handling of several issues, especially inflation and the oil crisis, now Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Robert Stanfield of Nova Scotia was faced with the reality of having to deliver on his party’s many campaign promises to try and return Canada to plenty and prosperity amidst a western world seemingly crippled by economic malaise. To his credit, he got to work straight away, and managed several sweeping achievements. After two years as Premier, Stanfield was thrilled to announce that his 90 day price and wage freeze had largely been a success. Inflation across Canada dropped to less than 2% for the first time in a decade, and consumers from Halifax to Vancouver began to feel confidence in their dollars once again. Handily reelected with an increased majority in 1978, Stanfield’s government would oversee the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the first (and thus far only) time the summer games have been held in Canada (though the Winter games would come to Calgary in 1988 and Vancouver in 2010.) Hailed throughout his home country and around the world for his civil, gentlemanly behaviour and personal kindness, Stanfield’s tenure as PM was able to continue, despite a dip in his popularity after unemployment increased as a result of his anti-inflationary measures. This victory was largely due to his personal magnetism and an unexpected economic upturn which would bloom into full on growth across North America by 1978. Continuing on as Prime Minister until his retirement from politics in 1981 at the age of 66, Stanfield is today remembered fondly as one of Canada’s finest Prime Ministers. His successor, fellow Red Tory and a brilliant, overwhelmingly popular former Mayor of Toronto named David Crombie, would lead Canada into a bold new decade, cementing its status as a secondary power in the world, a staunch ally of the United States, and a country with possibly the highest, cleanest standard of living in the entire western world.


    “Oh, Mexico

    It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low

    The moon's so bright like to light up the night

    Make everything alright”
    - American singer songwriter James Taylor in his 1975 hit “Mexico”

    The six years of Carlos A. Madrazo's Presidency had been utterly transformative for Mexico, her institutions, and her people. Renowned throughout the world for his reform-minded policies and energetic zeal toward good government, Mexico’s 50th President prepared to leave office in 1976, one of the most beloved and respected men in his country’s history. Unlike many Latin American leaders who promised change but provided very little action to bring it about, Madrazo hit the ground running from day one, and managed to produce several key achievements. Most of President Madrazo’s policies were inspired by those he had previously championed as Governor of Tabasco, and were aimed at modernizing and democratizing the nation, as well as turning around its economy, which had slowed dramatically along with the rest of the world after several decades of unimpeded, nearly miraculous growth. First on his legislative slate were a series of political reforms aimed at breaking once and for all PRI’s dominance of Mexican politics. So long as millions of Mexicans were fearful of intimidation or violence, there could never be true freedom at the ballot box. Madrazo’s reformers instituted a new series of primary contests and party convention systems, modeled on the American party system to the north. Next, Madrazo fought back against decades of Old Guard corruption by firing thousands of PRI toadies from civil positions and instituting rigorous civil service exams to ensure that merit, rather than political allegiance, would become the chief means of earning a government job. Virtually overnight, government expenditure plummeted as the practice of embezzlement became a serious, heavily enforced offense. This worked perfectly for Madrazo and his Partido de Reforma Liberal, who in turn used the funds saved to bankroll their ambitious economic programs.

    Passing a series of “emergency improvement acts” modeled on the American New Deal and New Frontier, the Madrazo government took bold steps toward continuing progress for their country. Thousands of kilometers of new railways and highways were constructed, connecting the poor, rural sections of the country to major cities and industrial centers. From Baja California to the Yucatan, hundreds of new hospitals and schools were constructed, with a publically funded K - 12 education becoming mandatory for all students nationwide. Matching the promise of Brazilian President Goulart to spend at least 15% of the federal budget on education, President Madrazo also pioneered a program for poor students to receive government assistance to attend university in Mexico for the very first time. Virtually overnight, the percentage of the population which was illiterate seemed to disappear. Mexico City, and in particular the national university, would develop into one of the finest centers of learning in Latin America. In order to reverse the recent economic downturn, the Mexican Congress also doubled down on other public investment in infrastructure and industry. When Madrazo took office, traditional industries such as mining and agriculture continued to dominate the Mexican economy. This benefited the wealthy landowners and industrialists, but was a tremendous burden to the country’s labor force, who were paid little, and had to pay exorbitant rates for imported manufactured goods and electronics from the United States, Europe, or Japan. Hoping to remedy the situation, the Madrazo government worked to diversify Mexico’s resource base, and succeeded through a combination of domestic spending and attracting continued foreign investment. By 1976, the country was largely self-sufficient in food crops, steel, and most consumer goods. Although its imports remained high, most were capital goods used to expand domestic production. Publications such as The Economist predicted that if ‘75 - ‘76 growth rates for Mexico held, then by the end of the decade, it would have reached the makings of a secondary economic power, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) approaching roughly the size of Canada’s. Madrazo, fearful that this new prosperity and wealth would be kept in the hands of the business class, and reflecting on his own upbringing in poverty, also signed into law new reforms which legalized and protected the rights of labor to organize and collectively bargain across the country. His last major radio address as President, in May of 1976, saw him declare “I have done all I can. Now it is up to you, the people of Mexico, to continue the good work that we have begun.” The 1976 Presidential Election would see three major parties - Madrazo’s center-left PRL, the increasingly prominent and right-wing Partido Accion Nacional (PAN), and the still powerful, largely centrist PRI vie to do exactly that.

    Above: Mexican President Carlos A. Madrazo as he prepares to leave office in 1976.​

    Though Madrazo and the PRL’s policies were widely popular across Mexico, there were many more conservative (and wealthy) voters who disliked the liberals’ pro-American foreign policy and center-left economics. Running as a “traditionalist” alternative to the reformers, PAN nominee Luis Echeverria decried President Madrazo’s moves toward secularization, especially his approval of free birth control for women and his insistence that theology classes be removed from the mandatory curriculum of government-funded schools. Playing on the fears and prejudices of the devoutly Catholic population, Echeverria, who as a PRI Secretary of the Interior had been responsible for the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, sought to return Mexico to its prior state, before the “revisionists and pro-American perdedores” came to power. On the left, President Madrazo hoped to set a precedent that Presidents would play next to no role at all in determining their successor. In line with this vision, he did not actively campaign for or against any candidate in his PRL. As a result, a crowded primary field developed. After months of raucous campaigning, Madrazo’s finance minister, Jose Lopez Portillo, a self-proclaimed “economic nationalist” and strong advocate for developing the country’s petroleum industry, managed to win a majority of delegates at the national convention and with it, the PRL’s nomination. Still reeling from their first ever years spent in the political wilderness, the formerly dominant PRI did a great deal of soul searching throughout Madrazo’s Presidency, and ultimately came to the conclusion that they needed to adjust their image and policies to keep up with changing times. In accordance with this vision, the PRI nominated a little known banker and low-level civil servant named Miguel de la Madrid. Intensely telegenic, soft spoken, stoic, a graduate of the (recently renamed) John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and incredibly young for Mexican politics at only 42 years old, De la Madrid lacked any sort of electoral experience when he was drafted and thereafter nominated at the PRI convention in 1976. Entirely overwhelmed, he very nearly declined the nomination, but was convinced by his wife, Paloma, to accept on the grounds that both of the other major parties had nominated “radicals” and the PRI needed a moderate who could help ground the country and win the election for “reason’s sake”. Her husband agreed, and began his campaign on the last night of the convention by giving a short, but powerful address in which he vowed “to continue the work of modernization and reform, but not at the cost of common sense.” De la Madrid argued that Madrazo had done fine work, but by staying out of the PRL’s nomination process, he had allowed the “crazies” to take over the party and rally behind Portillo. By contrast, the PRI adopted a new suite of policies which political scientists would likely qualify as “neoliberal”. They advocated for the privatization of several state held industries, and for continued secularization of academia and government. Throughout the spring and early summer, the race would remain close, but in the end, the reformers won the day, and Jose Lopez Portillo was elected the 51st President of Mexico by a slim margin, with De La Madrid coming in second. In his victory speech to the Mexican people, Portillo vowed to “continue President Madrazo’s policies”, and pursue continued friendship with the United States and her allies. He would go on to make good on both of these promises, as well as beginning a movement for Mexico to join NATO as an official military ally, though such a move would require amending Article 10 of the Foundational Charter of NATO.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Pop Culture in 1976
    Last edited:
    Clarification on Zhou's Reforms
  • What exactly is the structure of the reforming Chinese economy? Is Zhou trying a shift to locally-run cooperatives or some kind of heavily state-regulated semi-privatized thing going on?

    One thing Zhou could do to fix the Chinese economy is to institute a form of workers' self-management. Basically, have the state-owned industries and the central planners open dialogue with representatives of various industrial and agricultural communities. The government essentially negotiates with the people to figure out how to go forward with the economy. Downside for Zhou is that this makes keeping control of the state more difficult long-term and is very much against the precepts of Stalinist/Maoist communism, and could limit the speed of industrial development, plus side is that it means much less energy needs to be wasted suppressing dissent and industrial development will likely be more stable and sustainable.

    Another good idea would be a massive education initiative--one focused on educating the populace as a whole rather than re-instituting hypercompetitive exams. If he front-loads this with subtle government propaganda, he can probably mix this with self-management to raise the next generation as loyal and reasonably educated Party men. It won't last forever but it buys time for the Party and state without forcing them to borrow heavily to support a massive industrial program and nationalist propaganda initiative, and reduces the need for cartoon villain levels of repression.


    Essentially, Zhou is performing similar reforms to the ones Alexei Kosygin and his supporters in the Soviet Union passed ITTL's Mid-1960's. Namely, Zhou is introducing reforms to move the PRC's economy toward the model of market socialism. What this means, in practice, is continued state ownership and supervision of the commanding heights of the economy: heavy industry; energy; and infrastructure; while simultaneously decentralizing decision making, which will give local leaders and managers more freedom to make decisions and respond to the actual needs of the people on the ground. (Similar to the programs you described above, @Worffan101!) Basic entrepreneurship and private ownership are slowly being experimented with in the service sector and other lighter industries, and the market is, for the first time in the PRC, allowed to set prices for consumer goods and agricultural products. No longer forced into harsh collectivization, farmers are allowed to sell some of their products on the open market, and even keep some of their profit as incentive to increase and improve their productivity. While you're right that this could lead to future difficulties controlling the state and is largely an about-face on Maoist Communism, Zhou has always been more pragmatic than ideological. While these reforms have not led to freely floating prices on all goods, they have already shown a marked improvement in output and growth over Mao's centralized, Stalinist model. Though this style of policy was overturned ITTL's Soviet Union during Yuri Andropov's takeover in 1968, just as they were starting to markedly improve the Soviet economy, Zhou hopes, as he slowly withers away from cancer, that his successors will leave his reforms in place, and allow China to grow in a more moderate, "sane" direction.

    I do think Zhou would likely also institute major reforms in education, as you point out, Worffan. This will likely manifest as a "common school" movement, with a strong emphasis on technical literacy and, as you mention, more subtle government propaganda. Zhou was not perfect, nor was he above using force to put down protests, but it is definitely in line with his more serene methodology to try and prevent riots and protests before they occur. As TTL's 1970's reach their later half, Zhou's efforts to reform education in China have produced mixed results, as many in the more poor and rural segments of the country continue to lag behind the west (especially a dominant USA). That being said, the country is slowly, but surely recovering from the failures of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. By the time of Zhou's passing on January 8th, 1978, the People's Republic of China was already showing signs of renewed strength. His successor, Hu Yaobang, would continue to pursue market socialist reforms and increased political liberalization as the 1980's approached.

    Pop Culture 1976
  • Pop Culture in 1976 - “We’re on a Mission From God!”

    Above: John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd as “The Blues Brothers”; the pair made their debut as characters on NBC’s Saturday Night Live this year. Akyroyd, who was also beloved for his impersonations of President Bush, also capped off a tremendous year of playing the President when he “clashed” with Congressman Mo Udall (impersonated by co-star Chevy Chase) in a series of debates held every Saturday Night after their real-life counterparts.

    Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1976 (Top Ten):

    1. “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” - The Four Seasons

    2. “Play That Funky Music” - Wild Cherry

    3. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” - Elton John and Kiki Dee

    4. “Silly Love Songs” - The Beatles

    5. “Love Hurts” - Elvis Presley

    6. “The Hustle” - Van McCoy

    7. “If You Leave Me Now” - Chicago Transit Authority

    8. “Rockin’ All Over the World - John Fogerty

    9. “Evil Woman” - Electric Light Orchestra

    10. “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” - The Ramones

    News in Music

    January 5th - The Beatles’ road manager, Mal Evans, is shot and killed by Los Angeles police after refusing to drop what police only later determined was an air rifle. Deeply mourning the loss of their friend, the band begin to question whether or not they should take another hiatus from touring.

    March 9th - Keith Moon of the Who collapses onstage during a concert at Boston Garden. Though he is rushed to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival of a drug induced heart attack. Though the other members of the band briefly considered disbanding, they decided that that wasn’t what Keith would have wanted. They instead hire former Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham to be their new drummer. Moon was only 29 years old.

    RIP Keith Moon
    Aug. 23rd, 1946 - March 9th, 1976​

    April 17th - The Ramones release their eponymous debut album, which features the hit singles “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”; this effectively launches Punk Rock as we know it. The genre is largely seen as a rejection of mid 70’s excess in Rock music, and an attempt to bring Rock back to its more rebellious roots.

    April 29th - Rock superstar Bruce Springsteen’s dreams come true when he is invited by his hero and idol, the King of Rock N Roll Elvis Presley to perform a once in a lifetime concert with him in Memphis to a screaming stadium of more than 25,000 fans. The nearly five hour, one and only joint performance of The Boss and the King was blessedly recorded for posterity and would later be released as a live album box-set, shared by their estates. Most notable on the record are their duets on “Suspicious Minds”, “Promised Land”, and “Born to Run”.

    May 19th - Tragedy strikes rock music once again as the Rolling Stones’ lead guitarist Keith Richards, is killed in a horrific car crash northwest of London while severely under the influence of cocaine. In an effort to keep the band going despite their loss (and inadvertently taking a page from the Who), Richards would ultimately be replaced by former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. Richards was 32 years old.

    RIP Keith Richards
    Dec. 18th, 1943 - May 19th, 1976​

    June 18th - ABBA perform “Dancing Queen” for the first time on Swedish television on the eve of the wedding of King Carl XVI Gustav to Silvia Sommerlath.

    July 4th - Many outdoor music festivals are held across the United States to celebrate its bicentennial. Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and others fill stadiums the nation over. This magnificent display of music inspires Springsteen to write one of his biggest hits, the poignantly patriotic “Born in the USA”.

    August 5th - Guitar god Eric Clapton arouses immense controversy and is booed offstage in Manchester, UK, when during a concert there he announces his support for Enoch Powell’s positions on immigration, and uses multiple racial slurs and slogans, including “Keep Britain White”.

    August 25th - Comprised of former M.I.T. student and Polaroid employee Tom Scholz as lead songwriter and guitarist, Brad Delp as lead vocalist, Barry Gordeau on Bass, and drummer Jim Masdea, Boston-based rock band Mother’s Milk released their eponymous debut album. Its hit songs “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace of Mind”, “Foreplay/Long Time” and others would see it become the highest selling debut record of all time.

    September 25th - Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, Jr. form the Irish Rock band Feedback in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. They would go on to become one of the preeminent bands of the following decade.

    October 8th - English punk rock group the Sex Pistols sign a contract with Apple Records.

    November 23rd - Early Rock N Roll star Jerry Lee Lewis is arrested after showing up drunk at Graceland in Memphis and demanding to see Elvis Presley. Presley declined his request, though he did meet with Lewis the following morning and helped to get his old contemporary checked into a nearby rehab center right away.

    December 1st - Australian hard rock band AC/DC, whose blues inspired sound would make them rock legends throughout their career, release their first international album, High Voltage.

    1976 in Film - The Year’s Biggest

    Rocky - Sports Drama. Directed by John G. Avildsen and written by and starring Slyvester Stallone. Perhaps the most popular sports film of all time (not to mention one of cinema’s most inspiring stories ever), Rocky tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer, working as a debt collector for a loan shark in Philadelphia. His life changes forever when world champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) challenges Rocky, an amateur club fighter, to a bout for the championship. Easily the highest grossing film of the year, Rocky would also win the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 49th Academy Awards the following year (1977), and cement Stallone as a major, totally unexpected Hollywood Star.


    Midway - War film. Directed by Jack Smigt and starring an international cast of stars including Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, and Toshiro Mifune, Midway was the subject of mixed reviews upon its release, but was insanely popular at the box office. It was so successful that it launched the on-again, off-again trend in Hollywood of the big budget war picture once more. The film is also credited for pioneering the use of senusound to bring the engines, explosions, and gunfire closer to life than any war film before it.

    A Star is Born - Musical/Romantic Drama. Directed by Frank Pierson and starring Elvis Presley and Olivia Newton-John. A beautifully told story about a self destructive rock star (Presley) and the up and coming young singer who both saves his life and falls in love with him (Newton-John), A Star is Born won both critical and commercial acclaim and launched the career of Newton-John while maintaining Presley’s film career.

    Taxi Driver - Neo-noir/Psychological Thriller. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Robert Duvall, and Cybill Shepherd. Set in a decaying and morally bankrupt New York City in the aftermath of the Wars in Cambodia and Rhodesia, the film tells the story of a lonely, disenfranchised veteran (De Niro), working as a taxi driver, as he descends into insanity as he plans to murder both the Presidential candidate (Duvall) for whom the woman he is infatuated with (Shepherd) works, and the pimp of an underaged prostitute (Foster) he befriends. Dark, gripping, and inspired by a combination of Scorsese’s personal experiences and the testimony of Presidential assassin Arthur Bremer, the film is extremely controversial when it was released, and is widely ignored at the box office and condemned by some media outlets. It does win accolades at independent festivals however.

    News in Television and Film Throughout the Year

    49th Academy Award Winners (March 29th, 1976):

    Best Picture: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Best Director: Milos Forman - One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Best Actor: Leonard Nimoy - Randall McMurphy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Best Actress: Louise Fletcher - Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Best Supporting Actor: Burgess Meredith - Harry Greener, The Day of the Locust

    Best Supporting Actress: Sylvia Miles - Jessie Halstead Florian, Farewell, My Lovely

    Best Original Screenplay: Dog Day Afternoon - Frank Pierson

    Best Adapted Screenplay: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben, based on the novel by Ken Kesey.

    Above: Leonard Nimoy, 1976’s winner of the “Best Actor” Award​

    August 11th - The Shootist, arguably one of the greatest Western films ever made, is released. Starring Henry Fonda in the titular role as an aging gunslinger lamenting the end of the Wild West, the film would also star Jimmy Stewart, an old friend of Fonda’s as his character’s old friend as well. Today, the film is considered a fitting send off to the “Golden Age” of Hollywood westerns.

    November 19th - Michael Eisner becomes President and CEO of Paramount Pictures.

    Throughout the Year - Matsushita introduces the VHS home video cassette recorder to compete with Sony’s Beta-max System.

    1976 in Sport

    Super Bowl X - The Dallas Cowboys, led once again by their Quarterback “Captain America” Roger Staubach, edged out Archie Manning’s Pittsburgh Steelers, 21 - 17.


    April 17th - Mike Schmidt of the Phillies hit four consecutive home runs in a game against the Chicago Cubs.

    World Series - The “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds win their second straight World Series championship, sweeping the New York Yankees in four games.

    NBA Finals

    The Boston Celtics beat out the Phoenix Suns, 4 games to 1.


    “The Greatest of All Time” Muhammad Ali defends his World Championship belt in a globally televised match against Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium.

    Hockey - The Stanley Cup

    The Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 0 over the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Time Magazine’s Person of the Year: Mo Udall - The “Conscience of the House” managed to lead an insurgent, grassroots campaign to capture the Democratic nomination and thereafter the Presidency, and inspired a “people powered” revolution in American politics to do it.

    Other Headlines, Through the Year:

    President Ricardo Balbin of Argentina declined to seek reelection in 1977, instead allowing his Vice President, Carlos Humberto Perette to run as the nominee of the centrist Radical Civil Union.

    June 3rd 1976 - Philip K. Dick publishes his third and final Alternate History Novel, Without the Winters Rye. Set in a world where there is no Cold War, due to the Russian Revolution being narrowly avoided, the story follows reporter Todd Philips, who is in New York to cover the visit of newly crowned King Arthur I, son of the late King Edward VIII and Queen Anastasia Romanov. However, it soon becomes a race against time as Philips discovers a small-conspiracy, led by a group of individuals who practice a forgotten political ideology called Communism, who seek to assassinate the British monarch upon his arrival, while Philips is desperate to save him. An instant bestseller upon its release, the novel, often regarded by fans as Dick’s best work, is however quickly banned in the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, the novel would quickly cement Philip K. Dick’s legacy as the ‘Father of the Alternate History’ genre, inspiring various other authors to dip their feet in the genre, including a young 27-year-old author from Los Angeles, named Harry Turtledove and a 33-year-old Georgian by the name of Newt Gingrich, both of whom are known today for their works of alternate history, following in the footsteps of Philip K. Dick.

    The CN Tower is completed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    The first commercial Concorde flight is completed in the United Kingdom.

    The “Son of Sam” serial killer terrorized New York City. Mayor Herman Badillo swore that he would be brought to justice.

    The $2 Bill, featuring an image of President Thomas Jefferson, is reissued in the United States as a cost-saving measure.


    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: ACT III BEGINS

    OOC: And just like that, we come to the end of Act II of Blue Skies in Camelot! Thank you all once again from the bottom of my heart for your continued readership and ceaseless support. I had no idea when I began this project almost two full years ago that it would turn into such a major part of my life and I'm so thankful for each and every one of you for making it as successful and fun as it has been so far. :D

    With this being the end of Act II, The Seesaw Seventies, expect the beginning of Act III, Progress and Prosperity, sometime within the next month or so. :) I'm hoping I can start the new thread (and Act III) on the Two Year Anniversary of Blue Skies as a whole. I will also be adding the completed Acts I and II to the "finished timelines" forum soon. In the meantime, please continue to use this thread to discuss the TL. I will continue to follow it and try to provide updates and answer questions as frequently/quickly as possible given my busy schedule. We also have a picture/prediction thread going on in chat. :D I look forward to talking with all of you and uploading new updates in the near future.

    I wish you all the very best,
    Oswald Retcon and More
  • If you decide to incorporate the ideas I have presented so far, you'll let me know right?

    Absolutely! I apologize for my lack of replies/posts lately across the board. :( Between finals setting in, making plans with my family for Thanksgiving, and catching a really nasty cold which has lingered and left me mostly inert for the past several weeks, I have been much less productive than I would like. I am deeply sorry.

    I am happy to say that I have at least 1-2 updates written which I hope will constitute the beginning of Act III of Blue Skies and plan on getting them posted in the near future. :) Do not worry. The timeline lives!

    Hi Mr President been a while. I have a question for you. Has the Great Recession hit any other countries or just the US?

    An excellent question, @Kennedy Forever! The Great Recession has not been limited to the United States, but has hit the entire world rather hard, especially the "west" (think US, Anglo-sphere, Western Europe, etc). Its causes were similar to those of the recessions of OTL's 1970's - the energy crises; stagnation after decades of growth following WWII; rise of foreign competition from Japan, Mexico, etc; and others. As of January 1977, where Blue Skies last left off, the recession is reaching perhaps its fever pitch, and played a major role in President Bush's defeat to Congressman Udall.

    Whats the current status of Oswald and Bremer as of 1977, also what happened to Yoko Ono since she never met John Lennon, Mr. President?

    What the current state of Japan and the Koreas? Have any significant butterflies affected them as of right now? Mr. President?

    Retcon: Regarding Lee Harvey Oswald...

    Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested by Texas Rangers on November 23rd, 1963, after being charged with the attempted assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the successful murder of Texas Governor John Connally. Throughout the course of his highly publicized trial, Oswald continued to profess his innocence and claimed that he was a "patsy", used by "shadowy forces" because he "used to live in the Soviet Union". Despite his ramblings, the jury found Oswald guilty for the attempt on the President's life and the murder of the Governor, slapping him with a death sentence which was later commuted to life in prison. As of 1977, Oswald has served out about 14 years, and continues to profess his supposed innocence to any who will hear him. His own personal thoughts regarding who "really" shot at JFK have provided some fuel to truly fringe conspiracy theorists, but most dismiss him as a sad, lonely, disturbed man trying to make sense of his shattered life. President Kennedy himself famously "forgave" Oswald in an interview with Life shortly after leaving office, saying: "I harbor no lingering ill will towards him... I just thank God for sparing my life." More than anything, Lee Harvey Oswald's name is largely forgotten, save as the answer to a rather difficult question answered by Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings in the 2000's, or as a recurring figure in "What if..." scenarios on the popular Alternate History discussion board

    Unlike Oswald, Arthur Bremer's name has entered the American lexicon ITTL as a synonym for society's failures, man's potential for cruelty and violence, and of course, assassins. After confessing to the murder of President George Romney in March of 1972, Bremer was sentenced to life in prison. Five years later, he continues to serve that sentence, and has had his disturbing diary published, despite public outcry and condemnation from the Bush Administration. Bremer remains the central figure in a myriad of conspiracy theories regarding the Romney Assassination, with his "true" motive being pinpointed as anything from religious hatred of Romney's Mormonism to a bizarre claim that Bremer was contracted to kill the President by the conservative wing of the Republican Party, who believed that Vice President Bush would be more pliable to their right wing policies than the very liberal President. With the advent of the internet in the 1990's, Bremer's writings and persona would attract a cult following on illicit message boards, with many disaffected young men claiming him as a kind of "inspiration" to commit other acts of violence. Though he would never again live as a free man, Bremer's influence over the darker side of American life continues to disturb and sow fear. Truly, one of the villains of American history.

    Having never met John Lennon ITTL, Yoko Ono spent the latter part of the 1960's and the 1970's developing as an artist and trying to escape her own personal Hell that was her second marriage, to American Jazz musician, film producer, and art promoter Anthony Cox. Ono eventually managed to secure a divorce from Cox in 1969, though she lost custody of her daughter with him, Kyoko, in the process, and would not see her again until the 1990's. Dejected, depressed, and concerned that her family would pursue institutionalization for her once again in the fall of 1969, a 36 year old Ono found her life turned around by an unlikely ally - American folk singer and social democratic activist Phil Ochs. Moved by his intense energy, Ono's work also took on something of a political bent, blending her abstract, avant garde style with Marxist critiques of consumer culture and the need for women's liberation. Ochs and Ono would eventually marry in 1973, becoming one of the "royal couples" of American counter-culture.


    While Japan was certainly hit by the Romney oil shock and the Great Recession of the 1970's, the country's industrial output and overall economic output continue to climb. "The great miracle of East Asia", Japan's post-war boom continues, for now. The country has also seen great change in the form of ũman ribu, a women's liberation movement which took inspiration from allied movements in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other nations, and sought to modernize Japanese culture and ensure that women were granted equal rights.


    The Koreas are largely following their OTL path for the time being. Expect subsequent updates on their progress in the near future however, as TTL's more liberal direction begins to influence youth culture and politics, particularly (obviously) in the South.
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    Start of Act III
  • Blue Skies in Camelot: An Alternate 60’s and Beyond

    Act III: Progress & Prosperity

    “It is better to light even one candle than to do nothing but curse the darkness.” - President Mo Udall, in his Inaugural Address.

    “Once you’ve been in space, you appreciate how small and fragile the Earth is.” - Valentina Tereshkova, Hero of the Soviet Union

    “The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat! Communism isn’t sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting...” - Fmr. Secretary of State Richard Nixon at the 1980 Republican National Convention

    “We’re just talkin’ about the future. Forget about the past. It’ll always be with us. It’s never gonna die. Never gonna die! Rock and Roll ain’t noise pollution!” - AC/DC, “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” from 1980’s Back in Black.

    “Go ahead, make my day.”
    - Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan in Sudden Impact.

    “Nothing’s ever easy as long as you go on living.” - Marilyn Monroe

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    Chapter 107
  • Chapter 107: Don’t Stop - Mo Udall’s First 100 Days in Office

    Above: President Morris K. Udall and his older brother and Chief of Staff, Stewart, settle in for their first full day of work in the Oval Office. Desperate for hope after eight years of uncertainty and doubt brought on by the Romney assassination and the Great Recession, the American people placed their faith in Udall, “the most liked man in Washington”, to set the course of the ship of state toward a brighter future.

    “Lord, give us the wisdom to utter words that are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them.” - President Mo Udall​

    It was a cold but beautifully sunny morning in Washington as Mo Udall prepared to take the Presidential oath of office on January 20th, 1977. Though the wind chill cut the temperature down into the low teens, there was hardly a cloud in the sky to be seen. Perhaps the good Lord had sent a positive omen for the start of a new administration. Either way, the world waited with bated breath for the much awaited transition of power. Thousands of on-lookers and ecstatic Democrats choked the national mall as they strained to get as close as possible to the west portico of the Capitol, where the oath would be administered. Many of them had taken the recently opened D.C. metro system, a high speed rail line which though begun under the Kennedy Administration, had not been fully completed until the previous fall. They crowded together, people of all races, creeds, colors, ages, and backgrounds, united by a common desire for change and progress after eight years of recession, stagnation, and depressingly conservative status quo. Among them were former hippies and anti-war protesters from California, farmers and ranchers from the great plains and Midwest, assembly line workers and mill men from the northeast and deep south alike. Udall and Lloyd Bentsen, already sworn in as Vice President earlier in the day, had managed to reunite and grow JFK’s New Frontier coalition, and brought a wide swath of the country together. Many in the crowd still wore their campaign buttons: “All in for Udall!” The 95th Congress, which had just been called to session two weeks prior, was the most vibrant and diverse one yet in the nation’s history. Several freshman Representatives, among them Fannie Lou Hammer (D - MS), Bayard Rustin (D - PA), Jesse Jackson (D - IL), bolstered the ranks of the growing Black Democratic caucus. Congressman Harvey Milk (D - CA) became the first openly gay person to serve in Congress. All four of them stood with the thousands of hopeful people as they waited for Udall, their smiling, wise-cracking progressive champion to take to the secular pulpit and deliver what was promising to be a highly anticipated address. “Change was in the air,” Jackson would later recall of the day. “We were huddled in the cold, but hopeful.” This big tent of supporters may not have agreed on every policy, but they knew the country was in rough shape, and needed the government in Washington to be a part of the solution to its problems. Also seated near Chief Justice Paul Freund of the Supreme Court were Vice President Bentsen, former Vice President Reagan, President Kennedy, now a grizzled elder statesmen, but smiling fiercely, and President and First Lady Bush, who frequently leaned over to share kind words with JFK and his Jackie.

    As for the man of the hour himself, he stood beside his wife, Ella, and resisted the cold with a placid grin. After months of meticulous planning and working with outgoing President Bush on the transition, the President-elect freed himself to focus on crafting a lean, breezy, and powerful inaugural address. He believed that in this field, at least, he had been successful, and he kissed his wife’s cheek as the Chief Justice waved him forward and the marine band played him in. Freund, an aging Harvard man with a deep voice, bellowed the oath out to the impossibly tall (6’5”) Udall as he raised his right hand and swore it.

    “I Morris King Udall do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.”

    The crowd offered a thunderous round of applause, and Udall waited for a moment for them to settle down before he began to speak.

    “My fellow Americans, I want to begin by thanking my predecessor for the good work he has done for this land, and for the help he has provided me in preparing to assume this office.

    In this ceremony, we celebrate the majesty of American rebirth. It may be the brunt of winter here in Washington, but through our reaffirmation to the peaceful transition of power, we summon forth a spring which thaws even the coldest of hearts, and lets freedom ring from every hilltop and every valley, in this, the world’s oldest and most vibrant democracy. I declare today that we need a change in this country. I can see from the signs, buttons, and banners that many of you are carrying that you agree with me. But we seek change not to challenge, but to boldly reiterate our belief in our nation’s founding principles, and our belief that every single American possesses the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In short, we seek progress, change we can all believe in. In this regard, we are inheritors of a long and proud American tradition.

    In order for us to bring about the national renewal we seek, we must be bold. We must restore our country’s confidence in the present, and invest in its future - both economic and environmental. As Franklin Roosevelt once said, ‘The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.’ We gather today amidst the greatest economic crisis this country has faced since the Great Depression. Just as in the days of FDR and the New Deal, our government, the only institution that is, as Abraham Lincoln pointed out, “of the people, by the people, and for the people” must be part of the solution. We possess today the means of continuing the great work carried out by President Kennedy, whose New Frontier programs vastly reduced the number of Americans living below the poverty line. America has never been a country defined by impossibilities. We look to the stars and insist that one day we will visit them. We encounter disease, famine, and war, and demand that they be resolved for the betterment of all men. Today, we assert that America, in its third century since declaring its independence, will be a land of great accomplishments, great thinkers, peace, prosperity, and noble defenders of human rights around the world.”


    “I would like to conclude today by sharing something my wife Ella and I read on the side of a camper while on vacation near our home in Arizona: ‘America ain’t perfect. But we’re not done yet!’ Together, we will labor to build a more perfect Union, with your help, I believe we cannot fail. Thank you all, God bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.”


    Following the conclusion of his well received inaugural address, the President also defied expectations in another way. Alongside First Lady Ella Udall, Mo became the first newly inaugurated President to walk the entire length of the parade route from the Capitol to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, his new home and offices at the White House. Images of the President and First Lady, alongside House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D - MA) and other Democratic leaders walking through the frigid, crowded city while their Secret Service detail rode in black limousines seemed to perfectly read the mood of the country, and did a great deal to endear Udall to the average American. After five years of President Bush’s aloof, “out of touch” leadership, Udall’s everyman gesture, waving to the crowds, shaking hands, and laughing at jokes, showed how much he truly cared about the people he’d been elected to govern. Udall was already known throughout the capital and the political world as “the most well liked man in Washington”. These gestures at civility, good humor, and humility, showed that he was aiming to build a large governing coalition despite his progressive agenda. For his part, the President also felt this had been a natural move for him to make. He loved to interact with crowds and be out and about with the American people. And after surviving an assassin’s bullet on the campaign trail back in San Francisco, he came to believe that the people needed to physically see that he wasn’t afraid of anything, least of all walking among them. Later that day, after a single inaugural ball, another attempt at modesty in the capital, Mo returned to the Oval Office and got down to work with his Chief of Staff, his older brother and former Secretary of the Interior Stew. His first order of business? Getting his remaining cabinet appointees approved by the Senate, and then an immediate “day one” push on creating single payer, Universal Health Care.

    Some of the President’s choices were more palatable to Congress than others. Udall began by once again making history when he named Shirley Hufstedler, a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, first appointed in 1968 by President Kennedy, to be the nation’s first female Attorney General. Beyond the historic nature of the pick, Udall also selected Hufstedler for the position due to her liberal views on protecting freedom of speech and her believe in inclusive, affordable public education as a fundamental right to all Americans. In a country still leery of the Justice Department, and the FBI in particular after the reign of J. Edgar Hoover and the start of the War on Drugs, Hufstedler seemed like a breath of fresh air. She faced some resistance from conservatives in the Senate, but was eventually confirmed 83 - 17. In time, the new President’s cabinet would come to include more women than any before, including its first African American woman, Patricia Roberts Harris - Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Likewise, Udall’s pick for Secretary of Defense, Cyrus “Cy” Vance was swiftly hailed by both parties as a fine pick, given his years of service as Secretary of the Army and later Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy Administration. Vance was a firm believer in the judicious use of soft power, and believed that continued detente with the Soviet Union, furthering the peace process in the Middle East, and strictly enforcing the Kennedy Doctrine and devotion to human rights should form the cornerstones of American foreign policy. In this, Vance was joined by one of the new President’s more controversial picks - George Ball for Secretary of State. One of the most liberal diplomats in the nation, Ball had, as Undersecretary of State to John F. Kennedy, been the first White House advisor to urge the President to withdraw American forces from Vietnam. At the time, he had been called “overly worrisome” by JFK, but following Kennedy’s reelection, his words of wisdom would come to dictate the President’s foreign policy and prevent an escalation in Southeast Asia. Though anti-war protesters and academics loved the announcement of Ball’s selection, Hawks from both parties, especially Congressman John Kerry (D - MA), and Senators Scoop Jackson (D - WA) and Barry Goldwater (R - AZ) were less than thrilled to say the least. The Senators grilled Ball during his confirmation hearings, with questions only a stone’s throw from asking if he “had any intention of letting Soviet tanks roll into Saigon should the fancy strike them?” Ball shrugged off these accusations as “nuts” and was eventually confirmed, albeit narrowly, thanks to some clever vote whipping by Senators Russell Long and Ted Kennedy, both of whom would quickly become critical allies to the new President. The selection of Walter Reuther, legendary union organizer and civil rights activist, helped to reassure Udall’s Democratic base that he meant business about protecting the rights of labor to organize, and that his progressive vision for the country would include everyone.

    The Morris K. Udall Administration (As of February 1st, 1977):

    President: Mo Udall

    Vice President: Lloyd Bentsen

    Secretary of State: George Ball

    Secretary of Treasury: W. Michael Blumenthal

    Secretary of Defense: Cyrus Vance

    Attorney General: Shirley Hufstedler

    Secretary of the Interior: John F. Seiberling

    Secretary of Agriculture: George McGovern

    Secretary of Commerce: Juanita M. Kreps

    Secretary of Labor: Walter Reuther

    Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare: Patricia R. Harris

    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Walter Washington

    Secretary of Transportation: Yvonne B. Burke

    Chief of Staff: Stewart Udall

    EPA Administrator: Douglas M. Costle

    Director of OMB: Samuel P. Goddard, Jr.

    U.S. Trade Representative: Joseph Montoya

    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Andrew Young

    Above: President-Elect Udall meeting with former Senator George McGovern (D - SD) to convince him to come out of retirement and serve as his Secretary of Agriculture, in order to “continue his heroic, lifelong fight against hunger”.


    Having survived a very tight race to be reelected to a third full term as the senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, and now occupying the important leadership position of Senate Majority Whip, Ted Kennedy returned to Washington with his beautiful, glamorous new movie star wife, Sharon Tate Kennedy and resolved himself to get to work right away on fulfilling President Udall’s biggest and arguably most important campaign promise - a national, single payer program for health insurance in the United States with no cost sharing (though he would eventually compromise on this final point). It was a daunting task, one which took Kennedy into collaboration with Labor Secretary Walter Reuther, Congressman Ron Dellums (D - CA), and Senate Majority Leader Russell B. Long (D - LA) among others (including union groups and Medical research think tanks) to ensure that the bill, eventually dubbed the “Medicare-for-All Act”, in honor of former Senator Jacob K. Javits (R - NY), who now returned to Washington to lobby and twist arms for the bill. The legislation aimed to expand Medicare into an all encompassing public healthcare system for all Americans. It would be properly and completely funded through slightly higher medicare payroll taxes, its proponents explained. While this became a right-wing talking point, with GOP Congressional leaders biting at the chomp to point out that “Kennedy’s bill” would raise taxes on middle class Americans, both Senator Kennedy and President Udall were quick to counter that the bill would also slash premiums and overall costs by doing away with “profiteering in the medical industry”. This would mean that even if average Americans paid more in taxes to join Medicare, they would pay far less than they currently were in premiums to their private insurers. When it became clear that the bill - now popularly branded “MoCare” after the Commander in Chief - was gaining widespread, bipartisan support throughout the country, lobbyists for the medical industry joined with conservative politicians from both parties to try and see the thing killed before it could ever reach Udall’s desk. Opposing them were fierce advocates, who claimed a universal, single-payer system would make preventative care far more accessible, which would also reduce costs to the system and citizens overall by catching diseases and treating them early. Some, including the President, also argued that MoCare would lead to increased economic growth, spur aggregate demand by giving Americans more disposable income, and generally improve American quality of life. The fight, the first major one of Udall’s Presidency, was on.

    The bill was first introduced in the House on February 3rd by Congressman Dellums (D - CA), who proudly declared that “finally, we have begun to see change we can believe in on this fundamental issue! No American should be unable to receive the care they need. Seeing a Doctor when you need to is a fundamental human right.” Shortly thereafter, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Al Ullman (D - OR) gave his assent to endorse and release the bill to the floor for a vote, but only in exchange for assurances from Stew Udall and Speaker Tip O’Neill (D - MA) that the plan was revenue neutral and would pay for itself in new taxes. Ullman’s support meant fiscally conservative, budget hawk Democrats could line up behind the bill, and they did, in droves. Opportunistic Dems who had loathed Udall’s “do-gooder attitude” when they’d caucused together now lined up to support his reform bill. The President couldn’t help but be delighted by the turning tables. These formerly reluctant Democrats were joined by liberal Republicans following the announcement by Senator Spiro Agnew (R - MD) that he would co-sponsor the Senate’s version of the bill, along with Senator Kennedy. It took plenty of political capital, vote whips by Patsy Mink (D - HI) and Jim Wright (D - TX) not seen since the first 100 days of the New Deal, and a vast, tireless campaign to rally public opinion by the President. “Call your Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote for Medicare-for-All!” Udall beamed in one famous television ad from the era. “And when you’re done, pick up the phone and do it again!”

    The successful passage of this bill was critical for the new President, of course, and everyone in Washington knew it. The media reported feverishly on the “high hopes” many Americans had in their smiling, confident new leader, and put the pressure on for Udall to deliver on his most prominent promise. If Udall failed to see national healthcare through, he would have burned much of his sway and goodwill with the public, leaving him ripe for accusations of weakness and of breaking his word. Because of this, Republicans were instructed by Gerry Ford and Howard Baker to drag their feet wherever possible - delay, squirm, even filibuster if you had to. Anything to keep these bills from being passed too quickly and with too little meat for the GOP to sink their teeth into. The Republicans doubted they could stop the popular tide demanding this kind of healthcare reform, but they hoped they could at least moderate it and leave it open to privatization or abolition in the future.

    Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, one of MoCare’s most avid critics, spent nearly twelve hours filibustering the bill once it was introduced in the Upper Chamber. Echoing former Vice President Ronald Reagan, Laxalt decried what he called “the socialist takeover of American medicine!”

    Senator Robert Kennedy (D - NY), meanwhile, one of the bill’s most ardent defenders, countered fiercely, accusing Laxalt of “seeking to keep millions of Americans in poverty amidst the greatest economic downturn in decades, strictly for the profiteering of his friends in the medical industry.”

    In the end, the GOP theatrics did little to prevent the inevitable. The Democratic Party, resisting internal pressures and divides over social policy especially, stood firm, along with some pretty steep promises for government contracts and spending, as well as the help of their liberal Republcian allies, and passed MoCare through the House 301 - 134 and the Senate 68 - 32, just barely enough to achieve cloture and end the filibustering. Ted Kennedy, Ron Dellums, and their allies, such as freshman Congressman Jesse Jackson (D - IL) celebrated feverishly when the final vote totals were counted live on C-SPAN for the world to hear. In the Oval Office, Mo Udall watched with a triumphant grin, flashed his big brother a thumbs up and tapped his glass eye in victory.

    “I never thought I’d live to see the day.” President Udall chuckled.

    With the bill signed on May 15th, 1977, Mo was able to cap off his first 100 days in office with a monumental achievement, one that would later be considered one of the greatest of his entire Presidency. It reassured the American people that this “smiling, jokester Arizona cowboy” meant business, and gave him the momentum he needed to pursue the next item on his legislative agenda: a bill to protect the pristine Alaskan Wilderness by making large swaths of it into federal nature preserves.


    Shortly after his triumph in expanding Medicare to cover all Americans, President Udall headed to Notre Dame University in Indiana, where he had agreed to give an address on American foreign policy, and what the world could expect on the international stage from his administration. While primarily an expert on conservation, healthcare reform, and other domestic issues, the President didn’t want the country to believe that he was not up to the challenge of serving as the Leader of the Free World as well. In a rousing speech, recorded and later televised for the whole nation to see, Udall vowed to reject the “sabre-rattling” ways of the Soviet Union’s current leadership, and instead sought to return the focus of American foreign policy away from containing communism and once again toward the goal of protecting and supporting fundamental human rights. He lauded the Kennedy Doctrine, pointing to its success in reunifying Vietnam as a democratic state and preventing full-scale war, and warming relations with the People’s Republic of China and Allende’s Chile as proof that ideology did not need to be the sole determinant of who America’s friends and allies could be. He quoted Lincoln once again when he asked, “Do I not destroy my enemy when I make him my friend?” and challenged Yuri Andropov to “work with us to bring about a treaty which will limit and hopefully, eventually end, nuclear proliferation.” It was a bold address, replete with Kennedy-esque idealism and firmly held conviction that America continue to hold the moral high ground in the great twilight struggle of the 20th century. And while some, especially on the right, accused President Udall of being “naive”, most Americans thought it was a beautiful ideal to work towards, remembering that not so long ago, Americans and Soviets had worked together to put a man and a woman on the Moon.

    Proving that he was willing to stand up for civil liberties and human rights, even as he sought new thawing in the Cold War, Udall wrote a personal letter of support to Soviet nuclear physicist, Nobel Laureate, and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, whose insistence on the need for civil rights and reform in the USSR had made him a target of the Andropov regime, but a symbol of hope and liberation around the world. Udall expressed his hope that “First Secretary Andropov might learn a thing or two from Dr. Sakhraov. Unlike what the good doctor does every day in his labs, knowing that to deny your people their fundamental human right to liberty isn’t exactly rocket science.”

    Finally, the President also made his first foreign trip of his time in office, a quick jaunt over the border to Ottawa to reaffirm friendship with Canada and develop a working relationship with Prime Minister Roger Stanfield. Before the year was out, the President would also make stops in India, Japan, France, Belgium, and Iran, where tensions between the Shah’s oppressive regime and his people were beginning to intensify.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Difficulties Across the Pond Continue
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    Chapter 108
  • Chapter 108: Anarchy in the UK - The Fight for (and against) Scottish Devolution

    “Now is the Winter of our Discontent...” - William Shakespeare, Richard III​

    Following Scotland’s historic and unprecedented championship victory in the 1974 World Cup, calls for increased autonomy and devolution of government for Alba grew louder, particularly within Scotland itself. Ever since the 1703 Act of Union which combined Scotland, England, and Wales into the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Scots had, along with the Welsh, been ruled from Westminster, in London. While most in Scotland were patriotic and proud to be part of the UK, there were many, even among these loyal to London, who believed that the time had come for Scotland to be granted additional autonomy - that it be allowed to elect a separate parliament from Westminster to be able to address Scottish concerns more locally. The combined movement for this devolution picked up immense steam from 1974, and a bill was proposed in the House of Commons by Labour MP and Shadow Secretary for Employment, Michael Foot in May of 1976 which would accomplish exactly that. Under Foot’s proposal, the position of Secretary of State for Scotland would be abolished and replaced by a new Parliament in Edinburgh, elected for and by the Scots themselves. Scotland would still have seats in Westminster to address fully national concerns, of course, but giving Scots this freedom of local governance would be a show of respect to Scotland’s place in the Kingdom, most agreed. In order to demonstrate the popularity of his bill in Scotland itself, Foot and the Labour Party organized a referendum in the country, asking citizens whether or not they were in support of devolution. After weeks of deliberation, the final vote revealed that 51.67% of Scots support such a move. With a majority of Scotland in favor, the bill proceeded to the floor and saw widespread support among Labour and the Liberal Party. Unfortunately for its proponents however, the bill had one very powerful enemy - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    When the PM heard about Foot and others organizing the referendum, she tried to leverage her influence to have the vote’s rules set in such a way that England could vote on the resolution as well. Thatcher was absolutely, resolutely opposed to devolution to Scotland and Wales on purely ideological grounds. A staunch Tory as ever they came, Thatcher believed that such a move to localize government would threaten the unity of the Kingdom and serve to undermine national patriotic sentiments. After she failed to sway the vote to her side, Thatcher’s next tactic to undermine devolution came in questioning the referendum’s validity in the first place. She claimed that because only about 51% of the Scottish electorate turned out for the referendum, it could not be claimed as evidence of a “legitimate majority” of the people’s will. Thus Thatcher ordered her Conservative MP’s not to vote for the bill, and to argue at every opportunity against its supposed merits. Thatcher also accused Labour leader Denis Healey, perhaps fairly, of “pandering” to the Scottish National Party with his party’s support of the devolution bill in exchange for the SNP agreeing to back Labour in a future coalition against her Conservatives. Healey, ever the wily politician, dodged the claim by countering that Thatcher, by her actions, was “opposing the popular will” and called on her to enact devolution at once.

    Though the argument for or against devolution had, by itself, been innocuous enough, it had the great misfortune of taking place at the height of British malaise in the late 1970’s. Across the sea in Northern Ireland, the Troubles were entering one of their bloodiest (if final) stages. Throughout the country, unemployment soared and wages stagnated. Few could find work and when they could, it was often demeaning, unfulfilling, or both. The stage was set for a great social upheaval in the country, and the argument over Scottish and Welsh devolution only served to add petrol to an already blazing fire of resentment.

    Enter into this precarious situation Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who was, in 1977, celebrating her Silver Jubilee. Hoping to provide a much needed distraction from the state of the economy and increasingly political unrest and violence in the streets, the Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, decided to embark on the most elaborate tour (in a short span of time) of the United Kingdom in the Monarchy’s history. Across three months, the Royal couple would visit 36 counties, beginning with record crowds turning out to meet them in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 17th. Unfortunately for the celebrations however, the parades and parties were also attended by protesters, many of whom tore down Union Jacks to hoist the Saltire of St. Andrew and waved signs and banners declaring “FUCK THE MILK SNATCHER” and “DEVOLUTION NOW!” The Queen and her husband were swiftly escorted away from the “unpleasantness” of the protests, and thereafter turned their trip toward England, where they were greeted by energetic crowds and fewer groups of shouting activists. Nonetheless, there were several major security scares during her Jubilee tour, not so much from Scottish devolutionists, who despite media portrayals of them, were actually largely peaceful and supported the monarchy, but rather from the Provisional IRA, who detonated seven bombs in London’s West End in January of that year, and would continue their “homefront” terror campaign throughout the year.

    Despite the risks to her own personal safety, the Queen ignored calls to curtail her tour early, and saw it as her duty to rally the British people in their time of fear, as her father had during the Second World War. To some degree, this was successful. Her tour of the country and later, each of the Commonwealth Nations was widely celebrated and well received, even when she stopped in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in August, amidst some of the tightest security in history. Despite threats against her person, including a bomb threat called in on the dock where her ship landed, her Majesty spent hours shaking hands and greeting the crowds. Throughout Belfast during her three day stay, not a single person was killed, a momentary lull in the sectarian violence, but also a portent of the blossoming spring to come...

    Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, the Queen’s silver jubilee may have given Britons a much needed dose of optimism, but it did not stem their growing dissatisfaction with Thatcher’s handling of the country’s various crises. As 1977 wore on and later gave way to ‘78, unrest and political anger washed out into the streets. In November, firefighters went on their first ever national strike, demanding a 30% wage increase to help them deal with the absolutely rampant inflation. Across the north of England, a deranged serial killer called the “Yorkshire Ripper” would strike terror into the hearts of millions, murdering at least a dozen women, mostly prostitutes, particularly around the city of Manchester. And in December, for the second tournament in a row (and after seeing Scotland victorious in ‘74, no less) England’s national football team failed to qualify for the World Cup. These events, combined with the already electric atmosphere caused what many pundits and historians have come to call the United Kingdom’s “Winter of Discontent.” Widespread protests brought thousands of trade unionists, university students and activists, and ordinary men and women to London and other major cities across the country. Some of these grew violent, with police and protesters clashing openly in the streets, leading Sid Vicious of the up-and-coming punk band the Sex Pistols to declare “the world may as well be fucking ending!”

    Thatcher was desperate to restore a sense of order, to recuperate her and her party’s image, and bring about legislation to appear active on the issues, but all of this was not to be. The PM’s political capital among supporters had dwindled, and goodwill from the opposition had all but vanished. Healy, as leader of the opposition, smelled blood in the water, and having won assurances from the Scottish National Party and the Liberals to back him in the event of a hung parliament, he called a vote of no confidence on Thatcher’s government on December 12th, 1977. Thatcher, overestimating her support among the rank and file Tories, attempted to guarantee the motion’s failure by winning the endorsement of Enoch Powell and his small cabal of backers, who were still in self-imposed exile from the Conservatives after Randolph Churchill drove them from the party at the beginning of the decade. Powell offered his support, on the condition that Thatcher rescind her prior criticisms of him, which she did. This move backfired on the PM, however, as Powell’s endorsement wound up costing her a dozen or so votes from Tories to whom Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech from the decade prior had been anathema. When the vote on the motion was held, Thatcher lost by a single vote, 310 - 309. Devastated, the PM desperately tried to pivot into rallying conservative voters for the mandated general election, which would be held in February. Unfortunately for her, however, the die of history had already been cast against her. While Thatcher and her allies tried to argue that the Conservatives had “already begun to combat stagnation and corruption in the bloated halls of government”, the still ailing economy and stalled privatization initiatives told another story. Labour, meanwhile, organized in neighborhoods across the country, promising an end to the downturn, a return to prosperity, and a shift in focus from what leader Healy called “idle posturing and foreign gallivanting” to “an earnest effort for the good people of the Kingdom at home”. Labour’s program called for wage and price controls to combat inflation, similar to those employed by the Stanfield government across the Pond in Canada. It also proposed the introduction of a “wealth tax” on the country’s most affluent to help pay for increased subsidies to needed goods, education, and the National Health Service. While Healy’s calls for “price and wage controls” were seen by some in the trade movement as a betrayal, Healy and his backers argued that they were a “temporary measure” and would be removed as soon as inflation had been brought to heel. “This is a case,” Healy claimed. “Where we may learn from a conservative party, albeit, one made up of those wise Canadians.” This seeming swerve from the Labour gospel ultimately wasn’t enough to stop Healy’s momentum. With the support of devolutionists, traditional trade unions and workers, a resurgent left-wing intelligentsia and a wave of politically active and motivated youth, Denis Healy and his Labour Party would win the 1978 general election in a landslide.

    1978 UK General Election Results:

    635 Seats in the House of Commons
    318 Seats Needed for a Majority

    Labour Party - 341 Seats (Up from 297)
    Conservative Party - 283 Seats (Down from 323)
    Liberal Party - 11 Seats (Up from 8)

    The “Winter of Discontent”, Thatcher’s defeat, and Healy’s ascendence to the Prime Ministership have since come to be seen as monumental moments in defining the end of the “Seesaw Seventies” in the United Kingdom. While Margaret Thatcher certainly tried to bring her country together, and restore prosperity to a land ravaged by stagnation and decline, her policies and philosophy were widely rejected by the British people, and marked a major defeat for monetarism and right-wing conservatism the world over. Today, if Thatcher is thought about at all by the general public, it is usually with a sense of scorn for the “hard times” of the 1970’s, or for her portrayal in V for Vendetta, an alternate history/sci-fi graphic novel series, written by Alan Moore in the 1980’s, which explores a world where Thatcher’s style of governance and (in that world successful) alliance with Enoch Powell mutates in Britain into a full-blown fascist, totalitarian state by the 2010’s. That being said, some historians have been kinder in their portrayals of “the Milk Snatcher”, arguing that while obviously controversial, her privatization policies issued a much needed challenge to the stagnating Keynesian consensus which had emerged following the Second World War, and energized supporters of laissez faire capitalism the world over, leading to the development of “neoliberalism”, a socially-liberal, fiscally conservative ideology which would grow into one of the world’s leading opposition to social democracy, alongside so called “Christian Democracy” movements. As for Healy and the country he’d just been elected to govern, 1978 would not be the end of Britain’s struggles in this new, post-war world, but with the smiling, clever bloke moving into 10 Downing Street, Britons began, at last, to feel a fledgling sense of optimism, and dare they say, hope for the future.

    As Joe Strummer of the Clash said, “My mates and I wish Denis Healy and his lads the best. We’re getting sick of singing about how shite everything is. Who knows? They do their jobs, maybe in a few years we’ll be singing about... I dunno, girls or something.”

    The Healy Ministry (February, 1978 - ???)
    Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service: Denis Healy
    Chancellor of the Exchequer: James Callaghan
    Lord Chancellor: The Lord Elwyn-Jones
    Lord President of the Council: Michael Foot
    Lord Privy Seal: The Lord Peart
    Foreign Secretary: David Owen
    Home Secretary: Merlyn Reese
    Secretary of State for Defence: Fred Mulley
    Secretary of State for Education and Science: Shirley Williams
    Secretary of State for Employment: Tony Benn
    Secretary of State for Energy: Albert Booth
    Secretary of State for the Environment: Peter Shore
    Secretary of State for Social Services: David Ennals
    Secretary of State for Industry: Eric Varley
    Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection: Roy Hattersley
    Secretary of State for Trade: John Smith
    Secretary of State for Transport: Bill Rodgers
    Secretary of State for Scotland: Bruce Millan
    Secretary of State for Wales: John Morris
    Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Roy Mason

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: New Cabinet Departments and the Supreme Court
    Chapter 109
  • Chapter 109: “Carry On Wayward Son” - Udall’s Cabinet Responds to Crises; the Supreme Court Weighs in on “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

    “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” - The motto of the new United States Department of Veterans Affairs, quoting President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

    As much as President Udall hating falling into cliches, particularly when it came to policy, he knew that during his first year in office, he was going to be walking directly into one about himself and his liberal Democratic allies. Mo was going to expand the federal government. To be more precise than he knew his Republican “friends” would be in their attack ads during the midterms (good Lord, they were already talking about the midterms), the President wanted to create two new cabinet level departments: Energy and Veterans Affairs.

    The latter of these was to be an easier sell than the former, Udall knew. Republicans, like any sensible politicians, tripped over themselves to lavish praise on America’s soldiers. A vote against the well being of those who served, when properly advertised as such, had been the death blow to many a promising career in Washington. Freshman Senator Murphy of Texas, easily elected as an LBJ-style Christian Democrat and the most decorated American hero of the Second World War, had broken tradition and come out fervently in support of the creation of a cabinet-level department for supporting the needs of veterans before he’d even arrived in the capital. He was joined by numerous Democrats and Republicans alike, and in the aftermath of MoCare, which had taken a lot of the President’s political capital to see through, Udall could use another “no brainer” like this to help him rebuild his good graces in town. Most importantly to the President, it had the added benefit of being the right thing to do. “Good politics are often inextricably intertwined”, the President was fond of saying. He told Stew and his allies on the Hill to give “Audie any ammunition he requires to see the bill through”, and to find someone responsible to serve as the first Secretary should the position be successfully created. This was swiftly achieved, and a candidate named - a southerner, a former Army captain and veteran of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Rhodesia named Max Cleland. Coming highly recommended by Senator Jimmy Carter of Cleland’s home state of Georgia, the former captain had won numerous medals, including a Purple Heart, for sustaining injuries and tremendous valor during his six tours of duty across three conflicts. A brief meeting for Cleland with the President was warm and cordial, and after the bill for creating the Department of Veterans Affairs was signed into law on July 3rd, 1977, the Captain appeared in front of the Senate in order to be confirmed as the first Secretary in the new position.


    (OOC: The following segment was written and submitted by @Worffan101. Thank you to him for this wonderful addition to the TL!)

    The hearing was a formality at this point, but Max Cleland was almost done with his glass of water anyway. It seemed like every single Senator wanted to put his foot forwards and wax eloquent for a few minutes about how much he loved the military, when they were all already voting to confirm Cleland as the first-ever Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. That much was a foregone conclusion.

    Guess some of the bums have re-election campaigns to worry about.

    The guy who spoke next, an unassuming little man with a still-boyish face and a trace of gray in his hair, though--he wasn't one Cleland would expect to have trouble getting re-elected. Ever. After all, when you had all the medals for valor the US Army could award, and a few more besides, it didn't matter what the Sam Hill your policies were because just showing up in uniform to get another medal from the Governor of Texas (who had a re-election of his own to worry about) was enough to make every red-blooded American this side of the Canadian border vote for you on general principle.

    Then again, Cleland wasn't Senator Murphy, so what the Hell did he know?

    "Captain Cleland, thank you for your service," Senator Audie Murphy (D-TX) began. "I know most of this chamber's already voting for you so I'll try not to waste your time, but I've got one very important question for you. Recently, the American Psychiatric Association published a new edition of their diagnostic guide, defining the conditions previously referred to as 'shell shock' or 'battle stress' as a mental disorder called Trauma-Associated Psychiatric Syndrome, or TAPS. The United States Air Force estimates that this condition affects millions of veterans of World War 2, the Korean War, and the Cambodia Intervention. I myself suffer from this condition, which led me to a painkiller addiction that I only kicked a decade ago by locking myself in a hotel room and going cold turkey, the most Hellish experience of my post-war career. TAPS causes a great deal of mental trauma to our fighting men, even decades after they leave the battlefield, yet we still know very little about how it can be treated and how it affects the mind. What measures will your Department use to combat this scourge and help our veterans maintain stable, healthy civilian lives?"

    He put down his papers, and the intensity of his gaze almost made Cleland look away. Shit. He wasn't ready for a hardball question this late in the hearing, God damn it!

    Hokey campaign slogan ("I'll fight for you like I fought the Nazis!") or not, the freshman Senator wasn't playing games, and Cleland scrambled to respond. "Uh, Senator, first of all, thank you for your service," Murphy nodded with a touch of impatience at Cleland's delay, "and, uh, I assure you, Senator, as a veteran myself this newly-defined problem is one I intend to attack aggressively as Secretary. I plan to direct a starter fund of ten billion dollars for the coming year alone," a significant chunk of Cleland's budget, at that, "specifically to research into shell-shock, or Taps or whatever they're calling it now. And as we get a better idea of how to treat it, such treatment will of course be covered by the hospital care services that President Udall wants us to set up. I believe very firmly, Senator, that if a man risks his life for his country, his country owes him a Hell of a lot back for it, and I will move Heaven and earth to ensure that our veterans have the very best medical and mental health care on the planet."

    Murphy nodded with satisfaction and leaned back in his chair, but Cleland knew he had one more thing to say.

    "And, uh, Senator, I just wanted to say--thank you for sharing your experience. There's a lot of good men who've gone through similar things, and hearing you talk about means a lot."

    "Do well by us, Captain," the Senator replied. "That's all I ask."

    As Senator Murphy predicted, Captain Cleland was unanimously approved by the United States Senate shortly thereafter, 100 - 0. True to his word, Cleland, on behalf of the Udall Administration, would spearhead millions of dollars worth of effort to research TAPS and develop therapy techniques to help combat its effects.

    Above: President Udall visits the Bisbee Copper Mine in his native Arizona. As a staunch conservationist, the efficient use of America’s resources was of paramount importance to the new Commander in Chief.

    One of Mo’s admittedly “cheesier” slogans on the campaign trail had been his “three E’s” plan, which would form the central focus of his program to revitalize America: Environment; Energy; and Economy. While few could cast doubt on Udall’s chops at environmental policy making during his time in Congress, many wondered if the “liberal icon of the Southwest” could steer similar policy to passage from the Oval Office. Now the head of the increasingly diverse and big tent Democratic Party, the President would need to balance the interests of business-oriented Democrats (such as his own Texan Vice President) with those of his own, more progressive breed. In the end, Mo set out to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could. He and his brother, Stewart, who had served ably and passionately as President Kennedy’s Secretary of the Interior for eight years, had already directly been involved in the creation of four new national parks, six national monuments, eight seashores and lakeshores, nine recreation areas, twenty historic sites, and fifty six wildlife refuges. Now, with Mo in the White House and Stew serving as his Chief of Staff, the brothers turned their attention to what Mo referred to as “the Crown Jewel” - a bill to save 104 million acres of Federal land in Alaska and protect them for perpetuity.

    Supported chiefly by tried and true allies of Udall’s, Native American tribes, whom Udall had helped in Congress by passing more than 184 bills to their benefit, such as the Native American Religious Freedom Act among others, the Alaska Land Use Bill was widely popular yet simultaneously deeply controversial. While most Americans supported protecting the environment, especially one as breathtaking and pristine as Alaska on paper, most were also feeling the fiscal pinch put on them by the energy crisis of the 1970’s. Mining and drilling interests, particularly oil, were obsessed with the idea of Alaska’s vast, untapped reserves, waiting for their wells should the Federal government sell the land, as the Land Use Bill was trying to prevent. Thrilled by the idea of fresh reserves to tap, the fossil fuel lobby began twisting the arms of Congressmen and Senators, hard, urging them that a vote for the Land Use Bill would be spun to their constituents as the representatives choosing “tree hugging” over “energy independence” and “cheaper gas”. For many, especially more moderate politicians who were already on the fence about the bill to begin with, this threat was potent, and the bill languished in the House’s Interior Committee, which Mo Udall used to personally serve as Chairman of. As if this pressure from big oil weren’t enough, the bill was also vigorously opposed by Alaska’s entire Congressional Delegation - Congressman Don Young, the state’s lone vote in the House of Representatives and a zealous paleoconservative Republican, even went so far as to call the bill “so dangerously close to federal tyranny over the states, it may be unconstitutional!” While of course the law would ultimately side with those in favor of the bill, being that it would only affect federal land and all, the issue still remained of getting the thing through. Both Alaskan Senators, Frank Murkowski (R) and Ted Stevens (R) were also passionately against the bill, believing that its passage would stifle economic development in an already sparsely populated, underdeveloped state. In Alaska itself, the legislation had an abysmal 11% approval rating, and when President Udall officially announced his support for it during a speech in Juneau, boos were heard coming up the street, and several effigies of the President and his Secretary of the Interior, John Sieberling, were even burned by its more vitriolic opponents. Alaskans had been led to believe by the oil companies that opening up the federal land for “exploration and development” would create jobs, and bring thousands of new residents to help support its haphazard infrastructure; preserving it for future generations surely would not. Mo realized that working against prevailing public opinion about the need for economic development above all else to combat the recession, and even violating the will of the majority of the state’s residents would not be easy, yet he persisted nonetheless. Holding among his personal heroes the great Theodore Roosevelt, Udall believed that the time had come to step into the “arena”, use his bully pulpit and do what was right, even if it might not have been popular. It wasn’t going to be easy, but Mo insisted that it was a necessary fight to get into. Perhaps even more so than MoCare, the Land Use Bill was going to be the first major test of the new President’s ability to whip up votes.

    As it happened, the President sought an ally in perhaps the most unlikely of places, the Senate offices of a fellow Arizonan, and one of the leading figures of American conservatism, Barry Goldwater (R).

    While “Mr. Republican” typically opposed most federal regulation of business on principle, Goldwater was also one of the Senate’s most passionate protectors of the environment, considering clean air, clean water, and unpolluted land to be one of the few “legitimate” areas in which the federal government should intervene on behalf of everyday Americans. A close friend and playful rival of the President, Goldwater was all too happy to take up the fight for the Senate version of the Alaska bill after it had been introduced by Scoop Jackson in May of ‘77. After meeting with Udall in the Oval Office on June 3rd, Goldwater officially endorsed the bill the following day. Given his status as an “elder statesman” and one of the most highly respected members of his party, Goldwater’s support meant a great deal, and helped to move several uncertain Senators in the direction of backing the bill, even if Murkowski and Stevens frothed at the mouth as Goldwater delivered his approving speech. When it became clear that the Senate version of the bill was likely going to pass, pressure mounted on members of the House to act on the issue as well.

    Taking advantage of the momentum Goldwater afforded him, the President mentioned the bill several times during his weekly press conferences and made an impassioned speech at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12th at a celebration of the birthday of beloved American writer, transcendentalist philosopher, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau. In the speech, Udall concluded by declaring why he believed the bill to be so important: “In terms of wilderness preservation, Alaska is the last frontier. This time, given one great final chance, let us strive to do it right. Not in our generation, nor ever again, will we have a land and wildlife opportunity approaching the scope and importance of this one.” Unlike his initial oration in Alaska, this one received vigorous applause, and would go on to be considered one of the great speeches in American conservationist history.

    Above: Mo Udall visiting “the crown jewel of the North American continent”, Alaska, as he prepares to push for The Alaska Land Use Act in Congress. If passed, the bill would set aside 104 million acres of pristine wilderness to be permanently preserved as federal land. The 38th President of the United States, Udall would forever be remembered as one of the most accomplished and dedicated conservationists in the nation’s history.

    The President’s “Walden Speech”, as it came to be known marked a decisive turning point in the struggle for the Land Use Bill. Though Alaskans remained furiously opposed to it, everyday Americans around the nation agreed with the President - even in tough times, some things, such as nature’s splendor, deserve to be protected and preserved. With Stew once again running vote whips alongside House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D - MA), the President also made assurances to those politicians influenced by the fossil fuel lobby that he would not, as some more radical activists were calling for, nationalize the energy industry. These, combined with strong public support were finally enough to put the thing over the top. Passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law on September 17th, 1977, the Alaskan Land Use Act assured that those millions of acres of pristine wilderness would be safe from the woodsman’s axe, the miner’s pick, and the oil conglomerate’s drills. In less than a year, Mo Udall had defied the odds and passed two major pieces of liberal legislation despite spirited opposition. The President had, according to the Washington Post, “major Mo-mentum”.

    Turning his attention thereafter to the other two “E’s” - energy and economy, Udall next sought to create another new Cabinet level Department which could oversee research, development, and implementation of energy policy at the federal level. This proposed agency - the aptly named Department of Energy, would seek to rectify the current crisis of shortages and high costs while also introducing new, alternative, renewable, and environmentally friendly sources of energy for the American public. Udall hoped to build on the work done by thousands of scientists during the Kennedy years to advance “green” energy sources - solar, wind, geothermal, and safe nuclear to begin phasing out “dirty” sources such as coal and oil. This, once again, was less than thrilling news to the fossil fuel lobby, who had by now begun in earnest their attempt to smear the President as a “radical environmentalist” with no concern for the country’s economic well-being. Famously, Chevron paid former Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA) several million dollars to appear in a series of ads questioning the administration’s energy policies. Though these ads served to keep Reagan in the minds of the American public, and probably made for a decent practice run for his all but inevitable bid for the Presidency in 1980, they did little to convince many Americans, who were already angry at the oil companies for their recent suffering at the pump. The necessary legislation for creating and organizing the new Department, as well as giving it oversight of the nation’s nuclear arsenal was passed on October 8th, and it officially opened for “business” on November 11th. Another victory for the Udall Administration. In order to give the Department more bipartisan support, and assuage lingering fears of a “radical hippie” bureau, the President appointed Republican and former Secretary of Defense, Director of Central Intelligence, and Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission James R. Schlesinger as its first Secretary.

    Above: Former VP Ronald Reagan (R - CA), as he appeared in the famous 1977 Chevron ad attacking the Udall Administration’s “radical” energy policies (left); James R. Schlesinger (R), the first American Secretary of Energy.


    The first major “setback” of sorts for the new President came near the end of the year, when the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in the case Gregg v. Georgia. The 6 - 3 ruling declared that capital punishment was constitutional, so long as statutes which allowed for it provided a bifurcated trial to decide guilt and punishment. This came as a near direct, overturning response to the Court’s earlier decision in 1972’s Furman v. Georgia, which argued that the death penalty must not be imposed “arbitrarily and capriciously”. This incredibly divisive 5 - 4 decision had caused all pending death sentences at the time to be reduced to life imprisonment and made all previous capital punishment statutes void. While Furman had been unpopular with the public, receiving a near spasmodic attack from then Vice Presidential candidate and California Governor Ronald Reagan (R), it was held by opponents of capital punishment as a step in the right direction toward ultimately doing away with the practice completely. Though President Udall was dutifully silent on the Gregg ruling when it was handed down, saying only when asked about it by the press that his administration would “duly enforce the Court’s ruling”, the President was personally devastated by the change in direction from the Judiciary. Capital punishment was an issue which affected the President very personally, owing to an episode he experienced while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

    Not yet a qualified attorney at the time, Mo was tasked with representing a fellow airman who was staring down a court martial on charges of murder and desertion. The young Udall argued fiercely in defense of his comrade, but in the end, his inexperience showed and he lost the case. As a result, his defendant wound up being executed, an event which devastated Udall. So haunted by the outcome was the future President, that he carried a newspaper clipping covering the defendant’s execution with him in his chest pocket for the rest of his life. Though his personal convictions stood firmly against capital punishment, and Mo Udall was a man who took his convictions very seriously, he knew that it was unlikely that he would be able to make a serious attempt to outlaw the practice anytime soon. To do so, especially after the Gregg ruling would likely necessitate a constitutional amendment declaring the punishment to be “cruel and unusual”. In a country where opinion polls placed approval for the practice at nearly 65%, the President knew such a fight would be quixotic at best, and drain him of his political capital, while alienating a large portion of the more moderate and conservative members of his party in the process. Even his own Vice President, Lloyd Bentsen (D - TX), had publicly shared his “disagreement” with the prior Furman ruling during his time as Governor of Texas. Though few in politics would blame the commander in chief for doing the practical thing in declining to come out strongly against the Gregg decision, especially as he labored to save his political capital for the fights he could win, it saddened Mo that even as the President of the United States, the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, he was unable to see the death penalty retired. “You can’t take it personally, Mr. President.” Stew told him in a quiet moment in the Oval Office after the press conference left the President feeling rather down. “You’ve got to remember, politics is the art of the possible.”

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Blue Skies and Changing Times in "the Land Down Under"
    Quick Snapshot of Mainland Europe - 1977
  • Thank you all for the kind words! :D I'm thrilled, as always that you enjoyed the latest update.

    I'm honestly just surprised and thrilled that my little bit got canonized! :D

    It was too good not to, @Worffan101! Thank you again for your contribution. I'll be sure to keep you all updated on Senator Murphy's comings and goings in the Upper Chamber. As Worffan alluded to, the Senator, given his popularity, likely won't have too much trouble getting reelected when the time comes for it. Methinks he can expect a long and hopefully fruitful career in the Senate.

    Yes, this is real. It's magnificent.

    This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing, @Enigma-Conundrum !

    Fantastic work on the Environment and Energy there President Mo. That should leave a major impact on Alaska and the USA in general.

    Wonder if Alaska could benifit from building huge numbers of the Wind Turbines? Given the Sun levels in the SW US that can be covered in Solar farms - that should provide some jobs!

    Lovely writing @President_Lincoln and @Worffan101

    Great ideas! My research on IRL Alternative Energy projects in Alaska has revealed that wind turbines, solar farms (only in use in the summers, of course), and especially hydroelectric power are all viable options for the "Last Frontier". As time progresses in Blue Skies, expect President Udall's green energy initiatives to start working their way through the country, even eventually to mighty Alaska.

    How has the Alaskan public reacted to the new deal, @President_Lincoln?

    Good chapter, as always!

    As @President Earl Warren pointed out, the Alaskan public is none too pleased about the success of President Udall's bill. Even with a large amount of public support across the Lower 48 (around 65 - 70%), only 11% of Americans in Alaska supported preserving the Federal Land as Udall eventually did. This, as stated in the chapter, is largely due to Alaskans desiring more immigrants, jobs/economic development, and spending in the local economy to fund infrastructure and other projects. While this act has certainly drained whatever goodwill the President had in Alaska, politically, Alaska has always been a staunchly conservative/libertarian state to begin with. That is not different ITTL. So far, Alaska has backed the GOP ticket in every race covered ITTL.

    1964 - One of the few states to back Governor Rockefeller over President Kennedy.
    1968 - Voted for Governor George Romney.
    1972 - Voted for President Bush.
    1976 - Voted once again for President Bush.

    President Udall advocated for the Alaska Land Use Act despite it not being popular in Alaska, because he felt it was the right thing to do. Other Democrats (including Chief of Staff Stew Udall), were also willing to back it because they weren't too concerned about their popularity in an already conservative state. Will this strategy pay off in the long run? Only time will tell. Of course, in the short term, expect both Alaskan Senate seats, as well as its sole House seat to stay "True Blue" Republican. ;)

    One question if I may: What is happening in mainland europe?

    Running the risk of sounding sarcastic - lots! Here are some major events from Mainland Europe (up to and including 1977) that I haven't included in an update as of yet:


    Incumbent President: Francois Mitterrand (Parti Socialiste )

    France in 1977 stands at the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The "Trente Glorieuses" ("Glorious Thirty"), a period of near miraculous economic growth and relative prosperity brought on by the end of the Second World War and U.S. aid from the Marshall Plan has come to a close. While economic prosperity and average living standards have remained high under the left-wing government of President Mitterrand (the first Socialist to be elected President of the Fifth Republic), GDP growth has cooled to a more modest 2-3% annually. Most economists blame this on the after effects of the 1973 oil shock and unrest in the Middle East, though conservative elements in France are quick to blame Mitterrand and his Socialists as they gear up for the 1981 Presidential election. In general, "the Hexagon" maintains its strength and position in Western Europe, as well as its leadership role within the burgeoning European Economic Community (EEC). Speaking of which, here are the EEC's members, as of 1977:

    Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom

    Another important event:

    June 27th, 1977 - Djibouti achieves its independence from France, continuing the international trend of decolonization.

    West Germany

    Incumbent Chancellor: Helmut Schmidt (SPD, in coalition with FDP)

    Like its neighbor, France, West Germany is currently working to combat the economic malaise of the 1970's. Following revelations that one of his personal aides was, in fact, an East Germany Communist spy, the exhausted Willy Brandt resigned his position in 1974, leaving his Finance Minister, Schmidt, to take over the ship of state, as the new head of an uneasy coalition between his own centre-left SPD and the classically liberal FDP. Since taking power, Schmidt has worked to slowly reform German society, while taking a hard line to cut public spending and impose austerity measures. This has led to clashes with the left wing of his own party, but Schmidt (a former Defence Minister), has earned international respect for his shrewd diplomacy, especially his efforts to strengthen ties with Mitterrand's France. By 1977, West Germany is considered one of the leading nations of Western Europe, and a leader of the EEC as well. Schmidt has also earned high marks from economists, who marvel at his country's ability to "weather the storm" and emerge from the Great Recession with relatively low levels of both inflation and unemployment. German productivity has, it seems, come to save the day again.


    Incumbent Prime Minister: Aldo Moro (Christian Democracy, in a "Grand Coalition")

    The late 1960's and 1970's were not happy times for the nation of Italy. Often called "anni di piombo" ("Years of Lead") by common people and historians alike, these twelve or so years were marked by political instability, violence in the streets, and rampant intimidation and even assassinations. Bombings, murders, and riots plagued the streets as government after government was elected and subsequently failed to solve the rampant infighting. Finally in May of 1978, Prime Minister Aldo Moro of the Christian Democrats, a famed reformer and figure of great reverence within the country, managed to put a stop to the violence when he achieved what he called the "historic compromise". This compromise, at its core, involved the creation of a coalition between the centre-right Christian Democrats and the Communist Party of Italy, which Moro understood was more nationalist than the "red brigades" causing violence in the streets. The Italian Communist party practiced "neocommunism" or "eurocommunism", a more democratic form of the ideology which absolutely opposed influence from Moscow. Moro's compromise was not easy. He survived an assassination attempt by the Red Guards as he attempted to form the coalition and before that fended off whispers of a Military Coup attempt. (Note: The CIA officer on the ground at the time - 1973 - asked then-President Bush if he would support a military coup. The President responded that he would "support any government in Italy that effectively kept the communist party from power", a clear violation of the Kennedy Doctrine. But the President felt that Italy, a Western European nation, was too critical a location to "fall" to communism.) Despite the bloodshed, Italy under Prime Ministers like Moro has experienced leaps and bounds of social and economic progress. Regional governments were introduced in 1970 to address local/regional concerns when the national government was preoccupied. These new governments were given autonomy and authority to legislate in areas such as public works, town planning, social welfare, transportation, and others. National spending on the relatively poor, agrarian south of the country increased dramatically - leading to development and a much higher standard of living there. By 1977, Italy had the most generous welfare provisions in Europe. Simultaneously, Italian workers were, on average among the best paid, most protected, and best treated on the continent.

    Do you have questions about other countries in Europe I can answer? If so, I would be happy to. :)


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    Chapter 110
  • Chapter 110: Let There Be Rock - Australia in the World of BSiC
    “When the government makes opportunities for any of the citizens, it makes them for all the citizens. We are all diminished as citizens when any of us are poor. Poverty is a national waste as well as individual waste. We are all diminished when any of us are denied proper education. The nation is the poorer – a poorer economy, a poorer civilization, because of this human and national waste.” - Gough Whitlam, 20th Prime Minister of Australia, upon launching his campaign for the 1972 General Election

    “I love a sunburnt country,
    A land of sweeping plains,
    Of ragged mountain ranges,
    Of droughts and flooding rains.
    I love her far horizons,
    I love her jewel-sea,
    Her beauty and her terror –
    The wide brown land for me!”
    - Dorothea Mackeller, “My Country”

    As was the case across much of the world, the 1960’s and 1970’s presented a period of tremendous growth, opportunity, and change for the Land Down Under.

    Having emerged from the crucible of the Second World War an advanced and highly industrialized nation, Australia spent much of the next twenty years seeking to build upon its victory over the Axis Powers, and adjust itself to realities of the developing Cold War world. Politically, the country spent the immediate post-war period effectively dominated by the Liberal Party and its “family and home” oriented leader, Robert Menzies. From 1949, Menzies’ Liberals, in coalition with the rural-based Country Party, managed to keep a firm, conservative grip on power. This stranglehold was solidified by the country’s flourishing economic growth, particularly an unprecedented boom in its manufacturing sector, which promoted both political contentment and the triumph of bourgeois, middle class values, both to the detriment of the Labor Party, which had led the country through much of the war. In addition to a prevailing conservative mentality at home, Cold War fears of “Communist influence” served to weaken Labor throughout the 1950’s and early 60’s, keeping Menzies in power until his retirement on January 26th, 1966. By that time, he had become the longest serving Prime Minister in Australia’s history and had virtually reformed the country in his image. Menzies left office with a disputed, but largely positive legacy, mostly remembered by Australians afterward for its efforts to develop the capital city of Canberra, encourage massive waves of immigration to the country, particularly from Southern and Central Europe, emphasize and increase access toward affordable higher education, and its controversial foreign policy, which saw Australia commit soldiers to the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, and the Conflicts of Cambodia and Rhodesia.

    As immigrants poured into the country to work in its booming factories, mines, and refineries, and native Australians saw the onset of a post-war “baby boom” like the one experienced in the United Kingdom and the United States, living standards and leisure time both skyrocketed in the country as well. Holden, an Australian automobile manufacturer, along with four of its competitors came to employ more than 100,000 workers (at least 80% of them immigrants) in a nation of around 11 million people by the early 1960’s. National car ownership rapidly increased during this period as well: from 130 owners in every 1,000 in 1949 to 271 owners in every 1,000 by 1961, to nearly 400 owners in every 1,000 by 1971. Australian industry benefited heavily from hefty tariff protection, which was kept quite high due to pressures from both business owners and labor unions. At the height of PM Menzies’ popularity and power, his nation enjoyed virtually “full employment”, with vast amounts of expensive consumer goods flooding the market and making everyday life for the Australian people much better than the hardships and sacrifices they had faced during the Great Depression and World War II. In short, throughout Menzies’ premiership, most of the Australian public enjoyed good times. “Wild One” and “A Pub with No Beer” brought Australian Rock N Roll and Country music to international airwaves. The country also came to dominate in sport, particularly cricket, rugby, and tennis. Australia hosted the 1956 summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, an event which served to not only establish Australian sporting credentials, but also became a major catalyst for television broadcasting in the country, which began operating under a two-tiered, semi-privatized system created by the Menzies government in 1954.

    Above: Sir Robert Menzies, 16th Prime Minister of Australia and the dominant figure of post-war politics in the country from 1949 until 1966. Menzies vision for Australia: conservative, productive, and staunchly anti-communist, served as the guiding template for molding the country’s future.

    Menzies’ governments’ foreign policy was primarily constructed around what the Prime Minister referred to as “the Triple Alliance” - strategic defence and trade partnerships with both traditional ally/mother country Britain and the increasingly important superpower the United States. While initially this manifested in Australia taking a “staunchly pro-British line in diplomacy”, as British influence in Southeast Asia waned with the onset of decolonization, and the Suez Crisis (during which Australia was the only Commonwealth nation to support Britain) served a severe blow to the UK’s international reputation, Australia began to look increasingly to the geographically closer United States for leadership. British investment in Australia’s businesses remained steady throughout the post-war period, but the Great Recession of the 1970’s forced many British businesses to cut back and lead Australia to form even closer economic ties with the Americans, who were already superseding Britain in trade with the Land Down Under as well. The “final nail in the coffin” of close UK - Australian economic ties seemed to many the UK’s 1973 decision under Prime Minister Randolph Churchill to enter the European Economic Community. This move, which gave Britain a stronger trading position in Europe in exchange for backing out of lucrative, exclusive rates with the Commonwealth, shocked and alienated many in Australia, according to sources at the time, “particularly older people and conservatives”. By that time, Australia’s economy had largely ceased major trading with Britain, favoring exports to the U.S. and an astoundingly resurgent Japan.

    Above: The Sydney Opera House, internationally renowned and beloved in Australia as a symbol of the “New Nationalism” of the 60’s and 70’s first opened its doors in 1973.

    Though “old timers” were uncertain about what the new distance from Britain would entail for the Land Down Under, many Australians came to see this direction as, in fact, the right one. A new nationalism swept the country throughout the 1960’s, as the country worked hard to create for itself a unique natural, cultural, and historical heritage, distinct from its status as a Commonwealth nation and former colony of Britain. Liberal Education and Science Minister (and future Prime Minister) John Gorton, a rough and ready former fighter pilot who was widely described at the time as “the Australian’s Australian” promoted the development of local television and film, in an effort to combat the growing primacy of American culture to replace that of Britain. Gorton’s investments, and the creation of the Australian Council for the Arts, would pay off supremely in the coming decades. The country would produce Nobel Prize winning Authors, Poets, and Dramatists, create a new genre of film called “Australian New Wave” (largely inspired by the wave of patriotism), and greatly influence the realms of sport, music, and art, as well.

    Despite the longevity of his premiership and his relative popularity throughout his time in power, Menzies did eventually retire, ceding control of the Liberal-Country Coalition in an uncontested leadership election to his Treasurer, Harold Holt. 14 years his predecessor’s junior, Holt at 57 was still one of the oldest men to yet lead his country. To counter the argument from the Labor opposition that the Liberal Party was “old and out of touch with the electorate after so many years in power”, Holt appeared frequently in public at sporting events, and demonstrated openly his proficiencies and proclivities toward sport himself, particularly swimming. The new Prime Minister cultivated a “popular” image with the press - less of Menzies’ austere, paternal presence, and more informal, contemporary, and witty. Holt was praised by the public at large for his quick wit, brought his popular wife, Zara into the public eye with him, and provided the press with unprecedented access to himself and his office, becoming the first Prime Minister to hold near daily press conferences, regardless of what the business at hand of the government was. After less than a year in office, the new Prime Minister led his coalition into the November 1966 elections. In an astounding vote of confidence, the Australian people gave Holt and his Liberals an outright majority over Labor without the need for a coalition with Country, something even Menzies had failed to achieve during his lengthy tenure in Canberra. With 84 out of 124 seats in the House of Representatives, the Liberal Party had handed Labor its worst defeat in over 30 years. Labor leader Arthur Calwell, who by now had become “the Liberals’ punching bag” and lost three federal elections in a row, was ousted from power, succeeded by a “grand man”, who would one day come to recreate Australia anew once more, a man named Gough Whitlam.

    Above: 17th PM of Australia, Harold Holt, with his outright Liberal Majority government, was given a largely free hand with which to conduct the business of the country through the mid to late 1960’s.

    One factor in Labor’s stunning defeat was leader Calwell’s stubborn dedication to the so-called “White Australia Policy”. Begun decades earlier in the wake of competition between Anglo settlers in Australia with Chinese immigrants over the Gold Fields and Labour-union opposition to bringing in Southeast Asian workers to work on plantations in the south of the country, this fundamentally backward policy sought to limit, to as great a degree as possible immigration to Australia of peoples with non-European ethnic backgrounds. In other words, if you were not European, don’t bother trying to get in. While some in the Labor movement continued to support the policy, including leader Calwell, Deputy Leader Whitlam spoke for many more social-justice minded Labor MPs and members when he came out strongly against the policy, in agreement with PM Holt. Holt lambasted the policy throughout the ‘66 campaign, decrying it as a “racist relic of a bygone era” and insisting that “We have jobs that need to be filled. They [Asian immigrants] have ambitions for a better life. What exactly is the problem here?” This last phrase - “What exactly is the problem here?” - became a catchphrase for Holt throughout the campaign. Labor’s divide over the White Australia Policy and other issues led to the public seeing them as divided and unclear, contributing to Holt’s astounding victory. After winning the election, Holt’s government would begin its majority term by dismantling the Policy and “opening the gates” for millions who were waiting to bring “their talents and spirits' ' to Australia. While Holt won a great victory for tolerance and a more progressive future for Australia with his decision, his government was immediately faced with another racial issue: rights for the country’s indiginous population.

    Ever since the founding of the first British colonies on the continent, Indiginous peoples of Australia had been facing sickness (brought from the European colonists), loss of their traditional lands, and even death as thousands and later millions of European flooded their homes. This process, by the early 1930’s, had reduced the number of Native Australians to as low as between 50,000 and 90,000. Though thankfully by that time, most of these survivors had developed an immunity to European diseases. Those that weren’t were aided by modern technology, such as penicillin to help fight the spread of illness. Even with increased odds of survival, however, many indiginous peoples still faced discrimination and worse, outright exclusion from Australian society. From 1910 to 1970, between 1 in 10 and 1 in 3 indiginous or mixed race children were taken from their parents by the Australian government, State governments, and/or various church missions for the purpose of “Assimilating” and “Christianizing” them. This practice led to untold amounts of suffering for native people and their families, and children taken by the program have since come to be called the “Stolen Generations”. Per the original Australian Constitution, indigenous peoples were counted separately from European-descended Australians in the country’s census. This largely disenfranchised them, even after the Menzies government worked to grant natives the right to vote in various state, federal, and commonwealth elections, beginning with indigenous veterans in 1949, and fully extended to Queensland, the last state to grant the franchise to natives, in 1965. Despite the economic boom of the 50’s and 60’s, most indigenous people faced hardship, poverty, even homelessness and starvation. Treated at best like second class citizens, many were required to live either on government reserves or outside of predominantly white towns and cities. As the post-war era brought momentous social change around the world, Australia and its indigenous population also came under close international scrutiny.

    Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans and the Native American Rights Movement in the United States, students at the University of Sydney formed “Student Action for Aborigines” (SAFA) in 1964. This organization, led by a third year student and Arrernte man named Charlie Perkins, sought to emulate their movement’s highly successful counterparts in the United States. To this end, SAFA organized the “Freedom Ride of ‘65” - a bus tour of western and coastal New South Wales towns which sought to raise the public’s awareness about the poor state of health, housing, education, and economic opportunity for indigenous people. The Ride was also designed to expose the social barriers and discrimination which existed for Natives against the white majority, as well as to equip Native populations to stand up for their rights and peacefully resist anyone who would stand in the way of them achieving social progress, self-determination, and equality. Receiving widespread publicity in local, national, and international press, the Freedom Ride was a tremendous success, and was widely credited with pressuring the Menzies and later, Holt governments to call for the 1967 referendum on Australia’s constitution. The referendum, which came in two parts, was held on the questions of whether: A) indigenous peoples should be counted along with everyone else in national census counts; and B) Whether the Commonwealth should be allowed to legislate specifically for indigenous people. SAFA and other allied civil rights groups spearheaded the campaign for a “YES” vote on the referendum and when the votes were tallied on May 27th, more than 92% of Australians had voted in favor of the proposed amendments. This was, and remains, the largest popular supportive vote for a constitutional amendment in the history of Australia and was seen as a great victory for the Civil Rights Movement.

    The struggle did not end there, however. Though civil rights and social progress were great steps in the right direction, the next great fight for the movement was the battle for indigenous Peoples’ land rights. In the early 1960’s, concurrently with natives being granted new rights and recognition in Australia, gigantic deposits of bauxite, a sedimentary rock essential in the mass industrial production of aluminium, were discovered in Northern Australia. Many of these deposits were found on indigenous peoples’ “missions” and reserves. In the midst of the largest economic upswing in the country’s history, mining conglomerates were all too eager to get at the deposits, and did not care if this meant kicking the natives off of their land to get at it. The Menzies government, though sympathetic to the natives’ calls for representation and voting rights, were more interested in economic development than protecting the natives’ ancestral lands. Beginning in 1963 and lasting for over a decade, the Menzies government and its successors fought dozens of lawsuits and cases against indigenous tribes in an attempt to rob them of their land and get access to their mineral rights. While the government won several early cases, international pressure and increasing social unrest and civil disobedience prompted more cases to be won by the tribes over time.

    When Harold Holt became Prime Minister, he was largely ambivalent to the struggles of the natives, even reportedly being “flabbergasted” by the overwhelming positive result of the referendum, which he personally believed would “barely” pass if it managed to at all. Despite his own personal disinterest in the issue, Holt saw the referendum vote as a sign that the country was ready to move in a new direction on “Aboriginal” issues. He toured indigenous communities, met with indigenous leaders, such as Charlie Perkins (also now the first indigenous man to graduate from the University of Sydney), and Oodgeroo Noonuccal (also known as Kath Walker). Against the wishes of multiple state governments, Holt created the cabinet level Office of Aboriginal Affairs, and laid the foundation for a new relationship between the federal government and native tribes. That being said, despite this initial wave of goodwill between Holt and the indigenous community, their relationship would eventually sour as Holt lost interest and the political will to stand up for them and began to, like his predecessor, side with mining conglomerates in the struggle over the natives’ land rights. Nonetheless, tremendous progress had been made, and indigenous Australians, for the very first time, began to wield some political influence and have their voices heard by the country at large. The struggle, was certainly not over.

    Above: Charlie Perkins (left) would begin his career in public service as a Senior Research Officer with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs in 1969. By 1981, the Whitlam Government would appoint him Permanent Secretary of the Department, making Perkins the first indigenous person to serve as the head of a cabinet level office in Australia. Oodgeroo Noonuccal (right), seen here in 1975, campaigning for a seat in Parliament near Brisbane as the candidate for Labor. Her campaign focused primarily on policies supporting the environment and Aboriginal rights. In a shocking upset, she managed to win and became the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the Federal government of Australia.

    According to Holt’s biographer, Tom Frame, “The Prime Minister’s inclinations were those of the political centre. He was, first and foremost, a pragmatist, not a philosopher.” This attitude served him well when it came to most domestic and foreign policy making. He was cordial, for instance, with the American President Kennedy, a liberal icon, and downright friendly with Kennedy’s successor, the like-minded (to Holt) “enlightened” centrist George Romney. But some of Holt’s decisions as a moderate wound up pleasing neither the right nor the left and brought with it fits of unpopularity. The PM alienated John McEwen, the leader of the Country Party when he removed Australia from the “Sterling Area” and introduced the Australian Dollar in 1966. This move nearly single handedly led to the collapse of the Liberal-Country coalition, though Holt ultimately managed to hold things together. His popularity further declined when several “less than savory” issues were brought to Parliament’s attention throughout the late 60’s and early 1970’s. These included allegations that the PM was covering up “misuse” of so-called VIP aircraft by several members of his cabinet, all at taxpayer expense. The “VIP” scandal cost the coalition several Senate seats in 1967 by-elections and put Holt on “thin ice” with his party’s leadership. He managed to hold onto power in the ‘69 elections, though once again in the minority and highly dependent on McEwen’s dissatisfied Country Party against a resurgent Labor. He finally faced the music when in September of 1970, it was revealed to the Australian press that the PM was carrying on an extramarital affair with a highly paid call girl. Delivered to the newsmen as an anonymous tip, the story would soon open a floodgate of allegations against Holt, presage the soon to come “Hoover Affair '' in the United States, and ultimately lead to Holt’s resignation in disgrace as Prime Minister in November. The scandal also cost the coalition dearly in the November Half-elections, with Labor picking up four additional Senate seats, enough for a majority there. Holt would forever be remembered in his country by the infamous headline in The Sydney Morning Herald - “Literally Dozens!” referring to the former PM’s supposed extramarital affairs. Succeeded first by his Deputy Leader and Treasurer, William McMahon, who was shortly thereafter replaced in February, 1971 by John Gorton, at the behest of John McEwen and the Country Party, who refused to remain in the coalition with McMahon as PM due to his past economic policies while serving as Holt’s Treasurer.

    Above: William McMahon (left) and John Gorton (right), 18th and 19th Prime Ministers of Australia, respectively. Neither man managed to reconcile quarreling factions within the Liberal/Country coalition.

    The series of scandals and internal strife within the Liberal-Country coalition which felled Harold Holt, brought in and then removed William McMahon, and ultimately left John Gorton as Prime Minister severely weakened the coalition’s ability to govern. Throughout 1971 and 1972, members of the coalition broke ranks with Gorton and voted against what should have been “easy” legislation - such as expanding funding for the Australian Film and Art Institutes as protest votes against the current state of the government. Gorton further alienated his own party with his highly erratic, independent, “maverick” style of leadership and behavior, and seeming inability to respond to near annual victories by Labor in the Senate.

    As the 1972 Federal elections approached, the coalition was utterly unprepared to go up against the charismatic and eloquent Gough Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party (ALP). After nearly twenty five years in the political wilderness, Labor finally had a leader and an opportunity to take power back from the Liberals. Whitlam, the son of a federal public servant named Fred, whose involvement in human rights’ issues left a powerful influence on his son, had served as a militiaman and later a bomber pilot and navigator with the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. While at St. Paul’s College at the University of Sydney before and during the war, Whitlam earned a Bachelor’s Degree with Second Class Honours in classics, completed his Law Degree, and even contemplated a career in Academia. Ultimately this didn’t pan out, as the young Whitlam received poor marks after admittedly dropping out of his Greek classes after he “couldn’t stand the dry as dust lectures” of a certain Enoch Powell. Yes, that Enoch Powell. From the beginning of his post-war political career, Whitlam made it clear that he was going to make a big splash in Canberra. During his maiden speech, he was interrupted by John McEwen of the Country Party. who was then told by the Speaker that maiden speeches are traditionally heard in silence. Whitlam responded to McEwen by stating that Benjamin Disraeli had been heckled in his maiden speech and had responded, "The time will come when you shall hear me." He told McEwen, "The time will come when you may interrupt me." This cool, confident response put the Coalition government on notice that the new Member for Werriwa would be a force to be reckoned with.

    Much younger than many of the leaders of Labor at the time of his political ascent, Whitlam ascended to party leadership after Labor’s third crushing defeat under Arthur Calwell in 1966. Almost immediately after being elected leader, Whitlam tirelessly got to work reforming the ALP into a party that could finally end the Liberal-Country coalition’s grip on the country. He believed that in order to stand a meaningful chance at a majority, Labor needed to grow its support to include more than just its traditional working class base. With this in mind, he began a systematic campaign to attract the suburban middle class throughout his time as Leader of the Opposition, pointing out PM Holt’s failings and suggesting that perhaps the time had finally come for a change in the country. By 1969, Whitlam had succeeded in shifting power in the ALP away from the heads of trade unions and toward the actual parliamentary party. With his newfound control of his party, he helped draft a very progressive, largely social democratic platform for the 1972 elections. This platform called for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to determine and implement the proper level of government funding for public schools and universities, recognition of Aboriginal land claims, self determination for indigenous peoples and their tribes, an expanded party policy on universal health care, and even the abolition of the Senate via a Constitutional amendment. Whitlam reformed the party’s “backbenchers” into a more formal Shadow Cabinet and presented a “united front” compared to Holt, McMahon, McEwen, and Gorton’s “fractured, factioned, failed” coalition. As the 1972 elections approached, Labor began to soar in the polls. SAFA and other indigenous peoples’ groups campaigned hard for Whitlam and Labor, as did trade unionists, suburban housewives and salarymen, and even rural voters, who were perturbed at Gorton’s government being “asleep at the wheel” as economic hardship hit agricultural areas especially hard due to high inflation. Whitlam’s Labor Party campaigned in 1972 under the slogan: “It’s Time”, a short, bold declaration which seemed to perfectly encapsulate the national mood after nearly a quarter century of Liberal-Country leadership. While Whitlam did face a spirited opposition campaign from PM Gorton, backed by the increasingly influential media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the tide had already turned against the coalition. Labor so dominated the 1972 election that some of Whitlam’s advisors instructed him to “take it easy” on the PM with his jokes and wisecracks. “The people,” they explained. “Might start to feel sorry for him.” In the end, the ALP was rewarded for their efforts at reform and reorganization, picking up a massive 13 seat swing in the House of Representatives, for a majority of 25. This, combined with Labor’s slim majority in the Senate, gave Whitlam a suitable mandate with which to pass his broad, socially progressive agenda.

    1972 Australia Federal Election
    125 Seats in the House of Representatives
    63 Seats needed for a Majority

    Labor - 75 Seats (up from 62)
    Liberal/Country Coalition - 50 Seats (down from 67)

    Almost immediately upon taking office, Whitlam, Australia’s 20th Prime Minister, brought about a series of swift changes. In its first days in power, the new Labor government reopened the equal pay case pending before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and appointed a woman, Elizabeth Evatt, to that Commission. Whitlam abolished a tax on contraceptive medication for women, announced the creation of an interim schools commission (which fulfilled his campaign’s promises on education), banned racially discriminatory sports teams from competition in the country, and instructed Australia’s UN Delegation to vote in favor of sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. Because none of these changes required direct legislation to go into effect, they did so immediately, creating a wave of public approval and sweeping the country with `winds of change”. But that was only the beginning of Whitlam’s plans for his beloved country. As 1972 gave way to ‘73, Whitlam’s government dove into the real work of passing legislation and crafting policy programs. As promised, the government’s official policy on Inidigionous groups was changed from “assimilation” to “self-determination”. This meant that native Australian tribes were now free to determine their political status, and pursue their own social, economic, and cultural development. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) was also established. Made up of indigenous peoples, the Commission’s role was to maximise indigenous participation in the development and implementation of policies that affected them, particularly at the federal level. The Whitlam Government announced that it would reverse course on the Liberal/Country policies regarding native Land rights, and form a commission to investigate the process by which restitution may be made for stolen land by the mining interests and white settlement. Whitlam’s government abolished the death penalty for federal crimes and established free, public legal aid with offices in the capital city of each state. Despite spirited opposition, it managed to both abolish fees and tuition for public Universities and create a scheme for single payer, Universal Health Care in the country, dubbed “Medibank” - the latter of these would be funded by a 1.35% levy (with low income exceptions). The Labor government created urban renewal grants which generated flood prevention projects and promoted tourism, and made prudent (standard gauge) high speed rail and highway investments to connect the country’s major cities. Labor even capitalized on the new nationalism of the decade, changing Australia’s national anthem from “God Save the Queen” to “Advance Australia Fair” and creating the Order of Australia to replace the traditional British honours system. 1974’s elections gave the Labor government a slightly increased majority, including in the Senate, which emboldened the energetic Prime Minister to continue the rapid momentum of change and progress. Whitlam would remain in power until December of 1977, when many Australians, perhaps skeptical of the breakneck, rapid pace of change, narrowly elected the Liberal-Country coalition back into power under new Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser. Though Fraser had initially promised to “rollback” much of Whitlam’s program, his razor thin coalition majority, and threats of “a blockage of supply” for his own policies by Labor Senators prevented him from doing so. Whitlam retired as Labor Party leader in 1981 at the age of 65, succeeded by his Treasurer and former Secretary for Social Security, Bill Hayden. When looking back on Whitlam’s relatively short but immensely successful premiership, historian Wallace Brown wrote this glowing review: “A man of superb intellect, knowledge, and literacy, Whitlam rivaled Menzies in his passion for politics and the House of Representatives. He had an ability to use it as a great stage. In his pulpit of social progress, he became a symbol for the changing times in Australia, restored faith in the federal government after several short, scandal-ridden premierships, and helped usher in a new era after decades of status quo coalition rule.”

    Above: Gough Whitlam (left), Australian Prime Minister from 1972 - 1977. Today, Whitlam is remembered as one of the country’s finest leaders. Malcolm Fraser (right), 21st PM of Australia struggled and ultimately, failed to undo Medibank and other programs begun by the Whitlam government.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The Information Age Begins


    OOC: Hello everyone! Thank you all for your patience in getting this update out. It took a long time for me to do the research necessary, as Australia's history and politics are not as familiar to me as my own native United States. Thank you once again to @Rickshaw for bringing much of the content of this installment to my attention and for providing the inspiration for this lengthy chapter in the first place.

    I also wanted to take a quick second to mention that while Wikipedia is my go-to first resource for research when writing Blue Skies in Camelot, it is by no means my only source. For this chapter, I found a great deal of helpful information by visiting the website for Australians Together, a not-for-profit organization which believes in creating "better outcomes" for Australia's Indigenous population by "changing perspectives" on the issues.

    I realize that this chapter did not cover New Zealand, and for that I am sorry. I definitely want to cover New Zealand as well, but this update was getting quite long, and I thought perhaps it would be best to save New Zealand for either its own update, or another "foreign affairs" update in the future (which should be coming fairly soon anyway).
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    Chapter 111
  • Chapter 111: “Livin’ Thing” - The Beginning of the Information Age
    Above: Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates; collectively these visionaries would be called the “Big Four” of the burgeoning revolution in personal computing.

    “Be nice to nerds. Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.” - Bill Gates​

    It began decades earlier with the advent of Computer terminals, clunky interfaces designed to provide time sharing access to more powerful, central computers. Prior to the invention of the microprocessor in the early 70’s, computers were almost entirely large, costly systems owned by big corporations, universities, government agencies, and similar-sized institutions. These gargantuan, leviathan systems were often never even directly used by end users, who more often used auxiliary, off-line equipment such as punch cards or command codes to prepare tasks for the computer to then go and do on its own. These operations could be simple or complex, but ultimately amounted to the computer, no matter how powerful, being little more than an oversized, overpriced calculator. After the computer completed the operations, users could collect results, but this would often take immense stretches of time to be performed. Users could wait hours, even days, for even powerful computers to complete their operations. Over time, however, small developments would begin to change this model of digital interaction.

    The Kennedy years of the 1960’s brought more widespread terminal networks, and with them, the ability for multiple users to take advantage of a time-sharing system and use a single, mainframe processor at the same time. First developed commercially, this breakthrough would become one of several necessary for completing JFK’s dream of putting a man (or in this case, a man and a woman) on the Moon. Scientists and engineers immediately saw the benefits of these systems, and sought to maximize their efficiency and capabilities. But these developments soon hit their own brick wall. By forcing multiple users to share a single, mainframe processor, the amount of processing power each user had access to was still minimal. Ironically, it was in other, early computer research at MIT and other institutions that the future of so-called “personal computing” would be foreshadowed.

    At MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and other places where pre-commercial, early computers were still being developed and experimented with, a new model was being developed - one in which each user would have a computer with access to its own, unique, processor. At the time in the mid-60’s, such an idea was radical and virtually impossible due to issues with economic feasibility. The arithmetic, logic, and control functions of computers lived, at the time, in separate, costly circuit boards, and required large amounts of again, costly magnetic core memory. Despite these hurdles, “baby” steps in modern computing were taken in part of President Kennedy’s proverbial “journey of a thousand”. T-square, developed in 1961 at MIT, was an early example of what would later become computer aided drafting or CAD software. Video games as we know them today were arguably invented with 1962’s Spacewar! While these early computers were the size of refrigerators, and could not have been built without massive grants and endowments, progress was still being made. Everything changed with the invention of the microprocessor in the early 1970’s concurrently by Texas Instruments, Intel, and Garrett AirResearch.

    By combining the various functions of a circuit board with a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor, high-density circuits could be constructed cheaply and easily, as well as drastically reducing the size required for computers. It was the beginning of a revolution and the Information Age as we know it. Even in these early days of personal computing, researchers were at SRI, a non-profit scientific research institute funded by Stanford University, and Xerox PARC, a for profit computer research center in Palo Alto, California, experimenting with the idea of computers that a single person could use and that could be connected by fast, versatile networks; not home computers, but personal ones.

    Among those working on these early experiments for Xerox were a couple of starry-eyed visionaries from Los Altos, and San Jose, California - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. A “nerd” in the classical sense, Wozniak or “the Wizard of Woz” as millions of his fans would come to call him, was born and raised in San Jose to Margaret Louise Wozniak and her husband, Jerry, an engineer for Lockheed Martin. Throughout his teen years, Wozniak was a tremendous fan of Star Trek, and would later credit his fandom of the series (and attending several of its famous conventions) with his decision to pursue a career in science. Wozniak was expelled from the University of Colorado Boulder during his freshman year there for hacking into the University’s computer system and sending prank messages over it. Shortly thereafter, he managed to enroll successfully in UC Berkeley, where he built his first computer in 1971 with the help of his friend, Bill Fernandez. Wozniak would later drop out of Berkeley and get a job with Hewlett-Packard, designing calculators, before befriending another computer geek, Steve Jobs, who managed to get him a job at Xerox, after Jobs showed them Wozniak’s homemade copy of the board from the popular video game Pong by Atari.

    Jobs, meanwhile, had a long and complex story toward becoming the early computing visionary he is seen as today. Born originally to a Syrian Muslim teaching assistant father and a Swiss-German American Catholic mother, Jobs would eventually be raised, along with his biological sister, Patricia, by Paul and Clara Jobs, a repo-man turned Coast Guard mechanic, and the daughter of Armenian immigrants. Raised in a generally happy, supportive home, Jobs took to mechanical pursuits at a young age as well. By 10, he was befriending older engineers and “fix-it” types in his neighborhood, but struggled making friends his own age. In school, he was picked on for his introverted personality. With the help of encouraging teachers and his parents, as well as a High School with strong ties to the burgeoning Silicon Valley, Jobs developed interests in snowshoeing, nature, taking psychedelic drugs (particularly LSD), and reading Shakespeare and Plato. Eschewing college to focus on his own “pet projects”, Jobs eventually found a job as a “technician” at Xerox’s research facility in Palo Alto. There, he discovered work that was already being done on the so called “Xerox Alto”, the first personal computer designed from its inception to support an operating system based on a graphical user interface (GUI), which later used the desktop metaphor. Though Xerox were unaware of the magnitude and potential of their discovery with the Alto, Jobs was enraptured by the machine, and worked hard at every opportunity to inform his superiors at the company that the device had the potential to fundamentally change the way people used computers. The company was so reluctant to hear Jobs, “not just because he was a hippie”, Jobs would later admit, but because they were uneasy about the idea of reentering the commercial computer market. It seemed to them at the time like such an industry was going nowhere, fast, and they would better serve their share-holders by focusing on their time-tested products: copying, printing, things like that. It wouldn’t be until after the company hired whiz-kid Steve Wozniak and he co-opted the Alto’s innovations to design what would later become the X-1 computer, with its advanced bitmap display and mouse-centered interface, that the company came around to the idea of selling these designs to the general public. With Jobs becoming their “idea man” and Wozniak the technical genius behind their plans, Xerox was poised to become one of the biggest names in the burgeoning computer industry. But in exchange for their labor and vision, Wozniak and Jobs demanded near total freedom to design and build their own creations with the help of the rest of the Xerox PARC team. Intrigued by the energy these young upstarts brought to the table, PARC head Jerome Elkind and his lead researcher, Bob Taylor, agreed to give them a chance. By as early as the spring of 1981, the team of Elkind, Taylor, Wozniak, and Jobs would see the Alto’s successor, the X-1 ready for public release, and the era of the personal computer had officially begun.


    While Silicon Valley, California, and the Genesee River Valley, New York became major areas of technology investment and development in the late 1970’s thanks to Xerox, another city, Seattle, Washington, would play host to the other big name that would come to dominate the personal computing market - Microsoft. The story of this latter, scrappy company, began several years earlier in 1972, when childhood friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates shared a common desire to start a business around their computer design and programming abilities. Though they struggled to settle on a concept at first, spending much of the Bush years dropping out of Harvard (Gates), and earning degrees at Washington State University (Allen), 1975 marked a turning point, when the pair worked together on a BASIC interpreter for the MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems’) Altair 8800 microcomputer. MITS was so impressed with the boys’ work, that they sold the resulting product internationally under the name “Altair BASIC.” A few years later, following Mo Udall’s election to the Presidency, Gates and Allen relocated to Seattle, headquartering their company at nearby Bellevue. Gates agreed to serve as the company’s initial CEO, while Allen would primarily be in charge of product testing and development. Though it would take a while for their business to turn a meaningful profit, the pair persevered and began work on operating systems, namely, their own form of Unix, called “Xenix”. These experiments would eventually lead to MS-DOS in 1980, and later, its far more famous successor, Windows, in 1983. With the development of DOS and Windows, Microsoft were, without realizing it at the time, creating what would one day become the most widely used OS for PC’s around the world. As their software applications became more widespread and popular, the company also diversified, adding a publishing division, Microsoft Press in 1983. It was this same year that co-founder Paul Allen would leave the company after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and a rather acrimonious split with his former friend. Gates, now in sole control of Microsoft, would come to develop a domineering, arrogant reputation, though this did little to stem his overwhelming success. By the end of the millenium, he would be one of the richest men in the world...


    These leaps and bounds in technology were also impactful in another area as well - video games! While digital, electronic games had been around in some rudimentary form for decades, few were readily available for the public. The onset of the “Information Age” would see this change, rapidly. The release of Pong by Atari in 1972 marked the first commercially successful “arcade game”. Other beloved titles followed, including: Breakout (1976); Heavyweight Champ (1976); and of course, Space Invaders (1979). Joining these independent releases were some of the first ever licensed video game companions to films and comic books, beginning with 1978’s Superman, made to promote the Steven Spielberg directed picture. In addition to arcades, the very first games for home consoles and PC’s were being released as well. 1975 brought D&D - the first text based computer role-playing game (CRPG) based on Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s tabletop creation from the year before. Two years after that came Star Trek, an early 8-bit graphic strategy game, which allowed players to take command of the U.S.S Enterprise and lead it on a journey through the Alpha Quadrant to pursue and capture several escaping Klingon ships. While these early games were as simple as they come by today’s standards, at the time, they were nothing short of revolutionary, and marked the beginning of an industry which would one day come to rival even that of music, television, and film for dominance in popular culture. Of course, early gaming would not reach its first “golden age” until the mass marketing appeal of the following decade, when a booming American economy and a group of game developers in Japan, including a young man at Nintendo named Shigeru Miyamoto, would create new names and titles which would change the face of gaming forever.

    Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: Hairline fractures in the Udall Coalition; A New Generation Comes of Age