TLIAD: An Accident No More

An Accident No More


The Hatchet Man is Cut Short


When the Presidency was thrust upon Vice President Bob Dole on May 5, 1979, he found himself the “leader of the free world” during the highest Cold War tensions since the Cuban Missile Crisis and lowest levels of American confidence and economic strength since the Great Depression. Prior to President Gerald Ford’s assassination by Raymond Lee Harvey, he had been dealing with a Democratic Congress which had made solid gains during the midterm election and an American public who had grown weary of a full decade of Republican leadership. Stagflation had been slowly eating away at American’s savings, and soon the necessary reforms of Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker saw the nation slump into a recession.

Bob Dole inherited a bad hand at home and abroad. Dole, once a masterful parliamentarian, saw a slight thaw in the patriotic ‘rally around the flag’ when he first took office, but the good will was squandered over the nomination of a Vice President. Dole faced severe pressure from his right within his party and the fact that he had to appoint a candidate who could pass muster with a Democratic Congress. Senator Howard Baker was deemed the only acceptable candidate by Congress, and was inaugurated as the 43rd Vice President.

On Dole’s watch, he could do little more than condone as the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and could not deny Panamanian demands for the return of the Canal. As revolutionary fervor took hold in Iran, he had to deny the Shah’s request for medical treatment, instead arranging for him to fly to Switzerland, bothering Republican hardliners who saw it as the snubbing of an American ally.

The Dole White House grew increasingly frustrated, as the greatest critics of the Administration were his own party. Following an Oval Office address where he chastised the American people for a “crisis of confidence,” it seemed inevitable that the President would receive a primary challenge. Enter the charismatic, conservative Ronald Reagan, former Governor of California; and Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland who challenged the President from the left. In an extremely bitter primary, both challengers failed to unseat the President, but left his position battered.

Meanwhile, the Democrats were not going to waste a golden opportunity.

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TLIAD? This has to be about British politics, no?

Well… not exactly…

So what is the deal then?

Ford wins in ’76, but it’s more about what follows…

Why? Why not just start The Biden Express: Derailed!?

Just had to flush an idea out of my system, is all.

Is this going to be a Dem-wank?

No more than the Reagan Revolution was a GOP-wank…

This opening isn’t even witty, where is the classic British humor!?

Again… not a Brit. What ya gonna do about it? Is Farage gonna deport me?

U WOT M8!?

Whoop whoop whoop whoop! *flees*
A Modern Founding Father Ascends to the Highest Office


In a statesmanlike move, President Dole’s last major piece of legislation signed, the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, was the work of the man who had just defeated him in the 1980 Presidential Election. Senator Birch Bayh was swept into office by a sizeable margin, daresay a landslide. The author of three Constitutional Amendments (25th, 26th and 27th), Bayh ran as a reformer with strong youth, women, minority, and labor support. The country was clamoring for change. The Democratic field had been wide open in 1980, with all eyes on expected front runner Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. But Kennedy declined to run, and many candidates threw their hats in the ring. But Kennedy, and allies, threw their full support behind friend and colleague Birch Bayh, endorsing him early in the primaries. With the strongest challenges to Bayh coming from the “Watergate babies” Colorado Senator Gary Hart and California Governor Jerry Brown, the Hoosier chose second-term Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate, who at 38-yrs old was the youngest Vice President since John Breckinridge.

President Bayh became the author of a fourth Amendment as the 28th Amendment, which he had introduced as a Senator, was ratified by Arkansas in 1983, enabling the popular election of Presidents. The crowning achievement of his first term was an universal health care bill which expanded Medicare and mixed insurance coverage. The “Republican recession” was slowly ending by the 1982 midterm elections, and the Democrats kept control of both chambers of Congress. Reforms continued at home but Democratic figures continued to criticize Bayh’s foreign policy from the left, especially during the American intervention in the Lebanese Civil War, and cancelled big-ticket defense items like the MX missile and the B-1 bomber.

By 1984, the American economy had rebounded significantly and few Republican challengers were willing to step up and challenge the President’s reelection. Former Secretary of State and first-term Texas Senator George Bush won his party’s nomination with little competition from Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt and New York Congressman Jack Kemp, with the latter being nominated as Bush’s running mate. The Republican Party had its worse showing in twenty years, but the good times were not to last for the Bayh White House.

By 1986 the economy began to slow down after 6 years of solid growth and the Republicans made gains in Congress, cutting into the Democratic majorities. Foreign policy concerns weighed on American minds as US troops in Lebanon came under direct attack and the world was watched as the Second October Revolution occurred in the Soviet Union.

President Bayh rebounded in 1987, however, and was quick to recognize and embrace General Secretary Eduard Shevardnadze as a reformer. With Shevardnadze, President Bayh scored diplomatic successes abroad, including convincing British Prime Minister Neil Kinnock and French President Chirac to support German Chancellor Kohl’s reunification push. The two would lead discussion between Warsaw Pact and NATO powers that effectively marked the end of the Cold War at January 1st, 1990.

While Bayh secured his foreign policy legacy, at home the economy continued to worsen and it appeared that in 1988 Vice President Joe Biden would have several primary challengers.

The Republican primary was split as well along several fault lines – abortion rights, supply-side economics, the end of the Cold War, and other topics showed that the Republican Party had not resolved many issues during their time in the political wilderness. No single leader had risen to show them the way forward.

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The fact that you managed to make Neil Kinnock prime minister makes me want to call ASB. :p I jest, it's a good read, quite entertaining and accessible.
Thanks all!

The fact that you managed to make Neil Kinnock prime minister makes me want to call ASB. :p I jest, it's a good read, quite entertaining and accessible.

I'm borrowing from TLIAD: Meet The New Boss's style of tossing in foreign butterflies with little explanation. But since I was called out, basically no Falkland War.
Respite: 1988


Senator Geraldine Ferraro was still a unlikely winner, running for Vice President many assumed, after her second-place finish to Vice President Joe Biden in New Hampshire. But when the Vice President died in his sleep two days later (the official cause of death was an aneurism, although that did nothing to squash conspiracy theories), President Bayh played “queenmaker”, in an attempt to circumvent a painful primary season, and appointed her as his Vice President. The fact that her primary opponents Senators Gore and Bradley voted to approve her appointment effectively ended their campaigns.

California Governor (and challenger to Bayh in 1980) Jerry Brown refused to sit out, remaining the only serious contender after Arkansas Governor Clinton withdrew due to lacking finances. Brown was bested in the end but was effectively shut-out of the Democratic National Convention in Indianapolis. Ferraro appeased the more moderate wings of the Democratic Party by selecting Oklahoma Congressman Dave McCurdy as her running mate.

The Republican Party found itself divided but with little recourse to solve their differences. The primary season nearly ended in a brokered convention, with the delegate leader Illinois Governor Donald Rumsfeld still short of a majority. However, a week before their Convention, New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, who had placed second, was endorsed by third-place finisher Senator Lamar of Alexander of Tennessee, whose delegates put Kean over the top. Kean returned the favor by choosing Alexander as his running mate. A furious Rumsfeld denounced the move as a “coup d’état” and ran in the general election as an independent, selecting Virginia Congressman Pat Buchanan as his running mate.

Rumsfeld and Kean split their naturally overlapping constituency, and Geraldine Ferraro became the first female President, and the first President to be directly elected by popular vote. Voter participation was at a record high but sudden and rapid changes would shift the country and the world.
Making History


With eight previous years of Democratic control of all branches of government, President Ferraro had little platform other than more of the same and to stop the economic slide that had been happening. Deindustrialization was shifting the base of the economy and American power. Jobs were shifting overseas and as computerization took hold automation started making manufacturing jobs redundant. Conservative Democrats broke with the party line when the Ferraro White House’s proposed 1992 Federal Budget included record deficits, in an attempt to boost the economy. The final bill lacked the stimulus the President had been hoping for and the economy failed to improve. The President’s keystone achievement in her first year in office proved to have significant voter backlash as well.

The Biden Crime Omnibus Bill, named after the late Vice President who had been an early champion of some of its measures, was a major overhaul of Federal criminal law. While some aspects, like the domestic violence statutes were well-received, firearm control measures were instantly criticized by the Republican Party and more conservative Democrats. The backlash would be felt in the 1990 midterm elections. The Republican Party would win enough seats in the House of Representatives to be the majority, marking the first time the G.O.P. controlled a chamber of Congress since 1955.

Under the leadership of Speaker Cheney, the House of Representatives proved a foil to any domestic agenda the President hoped to pass between 1990 and 1992.

In 1991, President Geraldine Ferraro found herself defending American resolve on three fronts. In the Philippines, the Aquino Government was overrun in a coup, with Corazon Aquino stepping down and Vice President Salvador Laurel propped up by the forces of Colonel Gregorio Honasan. While American assets grounded rebel air planes, United States Marines had to be deployed to retake the Presidential palace, and seven American lives were lost. In Haiti a few weeks later, recently elected President Aristide was executed in a coup and again American forces were deployed to restore order. With simply the use of air power, the Haitian mutineers surrendered and US Marines peacefully landed.

The greatest test would come at the end of the year as Muammar Gaddafi, wounded from an assassination attempt in 1989, had grown increasingly unstable, both mentally and in his position, and lashed out at his own people’s and NATO in mid-1991. Following mustard gas strikes against his own people in Misrata, an American-led NATO coalition landed near rebellious Benghazi. The city supported the invading troops and with-in 90 days Gaddafi was deposed, killed by his own guards, and a temporary government was formed and a constitutional convention. While the operation over-all was considered a success, several failed operations by American Special Forces, coupled with the slow responses in the Philippines and Haiti, called into question American abilities to some observers. Nonetheless, the victories were rather quick (and far less painless than the public expected) and Ferraro’s approval ratings hit an all-time high. She was apparently untouchable.
Respite: 1992


Between 1988 and 1992, the Republican Party did the soul searching they perhaps should’ve done in the eight years prior. The Republican Leadership Conference became a powerful moderating force, searching out and developing candidates who could win back “Bayh Republicans” and appeal to a country where the politics had been shifted. The Grand Old Party was winning the center back into their fold at the state-level, but the rather dismal Presidential record of Nixon, Ford and Dole, followed by the visible split between Kean and Rumsfeld was still holding them back.

Come late-1991, with Ferraro’s ratings at an all-time high, few high-profile Republicans wished to challenge the President. The late-night sketch show Saturday Night Live satirized this fact by putting on a faux-debate called “The Republican Debate to Decide Who Loses to Ferraro”. In the sketch, potential Republican candidates Jack Kemp, Lamar Alexander, Howard Baker, and Maureen Reagan all argued why they were the worst candidates to take on Ferraro. Despite the uphill fight, there were still Republicans who accepted the challenge. Despite the primary campaigns by Senators Richard Lugar and Pete Wilson, and the efforts of Representatives Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, Republican primary voters turned to a Washington outsider as their candidate.

And as the economy continued to slide in 1992, President Ferraro was weaker than anyone could have expected. And the first female President of the United States was limited to one-term.

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Off to a good start, nice mix of OTL and ATL candidates to keep things interesting, with a little removal from reality but nothing too left field. As with TBE, you're doing great and looking forward to more!
I'm really enjoying this. The 1980s and 1990s seem very popular with American TL authors on this site, so much so that I think I learned everything I know about US politics in this period from TLs. This is a worthy addition to their ranks, and to the TLIAD tradition. Keep it up!


I see Meadow's 'leader portrait' style from the Soviet UK one seems to have caught on.

It strikes me that historiography in a TL like this is probably a bit weird because the narrative must be "American voters don't care about Watergate and pardoning Nixon" (assuming Ford did pardon Nixon in TTL) "but they do care about a bad economy and maybe lackadaisical foreign policy". The parties and pop culture may have an even more cynical view of the voter than OTL as a result: "We don't care if you're a crook as long as you're a successful crook", etc. Of course we all know that the '76 election was really close for a variety of reasons and you can't just say "Ford lost because of Watergate and pardoning Nixon, therefore American voters care about that" but in OTL that tends to be exactly what happens due to people only noticing the final result.

Was it Carter that Ford defeated in '76? Another possible strand of historiography, people from the Deep South are unelectable on a presidential level, running as a 'Washington outsider' is overrated, etc.

I don't think Kinnock would need convincing to support German reunification, Thatcher was fairly out in the cold on that one in OTL I believe (she viewed it as a generational thing, where any leader born after WW2 would not appreciate how powerful a reunified Germany could become).

I'm really enjoying this. The 1980s and 1990s seem very popular with American TL authors on this site, so much so that I think I learned everything I know about US politics in this period from TLs.