October Surprise: Texas Democrat Confesses Role in Treasonous 1980 Conspiracy

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Mar 18, 2023.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    October Surprise & the Story of a Texas Democrat

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    Per the New York Times:

    It was 1980 and Jimmy Carter was in the White House, bedeviled by a hostage crisis in Iran that had paralyzed his presidency and hampered his effort to win a second term. Mr. Carter's best chance for victory was to free the 52 Americans held captive before Election Day. That was something that Mr. Barnes said his mentor was determined to prevent.

    His mentor was John B. Connally Jr., a titan of American politics and former Texas governor who had served three presidents and just lost his own bid for the White House. A former Democrat, Mr. Connally had sought the Republican nomination in 1980 only to be swamped by former Gov. Ronald Reagan of California. Now Mr. Connally resolved to help Mr. Reagan beat Mr. Carter and in the process, Mr. Barnes said, make his own case for becoming secretary of state or defense in a new administration.

    What happened next Mr. Barnes has largely kept secret for nearly 43 years. Mr. Connally, he said, took him to one Middle Eastern capital after another that summer, meeting with a host of regional leaders to deliver a blunt message to be passed to Iran: Don't release the hostages before the election. Mr. Reagan will win and give you a better deal.

    Then shortly after returning home, Mr. Barnes said, Mr. Connally reported to William J. Casey, the chairman of Mr. Reagan's campaign and later director of the Central Intelligence Agency, briefing him about the trip in an airport lounge.

    Mr. Carter's camp has long suspected that Mr. Casey or someone else in Mr. Reagan's orbit sought to secretly torpedo efforts to liberate the hostages before the election, and books have been written on what came to be called the October surprise. But congressional investigations debunked previous theories of what happened.

    Mr. Connally did not figure in those investigations. His involvement, as described by Mr. Barnes, adds a new understanding to what may have happened in that hard-fought, pivotal election year. With Mr. Carter now 98 and in hospice care, Mr. Barnes said he felt compelled to come forward to correct the record.

    One strange piece of American politics in recent years is that certain conservative rhetoric has finally come to a head, and we sometimes refer to the idea that every accusation is a confession. As the underlying device is irony, yes, it is possible to drown in this one. To wit, even as such, we ought to have already learned that conservatives are so condemning of government because they seem unable to imagine anything so fundamentally different from their paradigmatic solipsism.

    Remember, we don't have an Iraq War without decades of entrenched, treasonous plotting, from Nixon on through Reagan and into the Bush dynasty, and no amount of conervative-libertarian throwing out of bums in order to elect unprepared and unskilled rightist partisans can change the fact of that sort of conspiracist insider governance.

    Toward which, the prospect that, yes, there really was a treasonous October Surprise plot is no surprise. The emergence of an insider account at this late date probably isn't surprising in its context. That Barnes is a Texas Democrat mentored by a notorious Texas turncoat is probably a discussion of its own:

    Mr. Barnes said he did not reveal the real story at the time to avoid blowback from his own party. "I don't want to look like Benedict Arnold to the Democratic Party by participating in this," he recalled explaining to a friend. The headlines at the time, he imagined, would have been scandalous. "I did not want that to be on my obituary at all."

    It's a little bit late for that; Ben Barnes did not merely betray the Democratic Party, but the United States of America. We can try to make it about Texas, or what it takes for a Democrat to be bipartisan enough to satisfy Republicans, but the cautionary tale ought to be obvious: Yes, you will be ashamed of yourself for betraying your country. Or, at the very least, you ought to be, though the decades of personal success, in the meantime, were probably at least some comfort. What an awful person Mr. Barnes claims to be.


    Baker, Peter. "A Four-Decade Secret: The Untold Story of Sabotaging Jimmy Carter's Re-election". The New York Times. 18 March 2023. NYTimes.com. 18 March 2023. http://bit.ly/3ToeTws

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