Panama Canal transfer, 30 years later

Here is an interesting—and unintentionally self-revealing (of liberals)—column about the U.S. Senate’s vote to transfer the Panama Canal to Panama, which happened 30 years ago tomorrow, written by the whiny Adam Clymer in the New York Times. The self-revealing part is Clymer’s complaint about how those awful awful conservatives used the Canal issue to beat up on poor liberals. The interesting part is that the vote for Canal transfer resulted in losses of Democratic seats in the Senate in 1978 and 1980 leading to the Senate Republican majority without which President Reagan could not have passed much of his program; conservative defeat on the Canal thus led to a larger conservative victory.

As for the underlying issue, that the U.S. gave up the Canal was a major error and a disgrace, and remains so.

- end of initial entry -

James W. writes:

For the Canal to remain in American hands would have been in the best interests of America, Panama, and the world. But it was also seen correctly that continued possession would be a magnet and multiplier for bad actors, bad judgement, and protest for the sake of protest. The Canal was further judged to be, ever increasingly, an inadequate ditch in a super-sized world, and therefore not worth the trouble.

That Jimmy Carter and his type would give away Texas and California, given the opportunity, may tend to obscure our understanding of the Canal transfer.

Alan Levine writes:

I cannot take seriously the proposition that the Panama Canal issue was a serious reverse for Carter and the liberals in the late 70s. It simply wasn’t that important to most people. In any case, Carter’s astonishing incompetence and worse in handling everything else simply would have overshadowed it.

LA replies:

Mr. Levine’s comment places Clymer’s intentions in this article in an even sharper light. Clymer’s theme is that the Canal issue was a phony right-wing scare tactic; indeed, for liberals, ALL conservative positions are phony scare tactics, inventing bogeymen to generate hate and fear. So, according to Clymer, the explanation for Reagan’s success is that he generated fear and anger over something that wasn’t even a problem, which led to Republican gains in the Senate in 1978 and 1980, which gave Reagan a GOP Senate majority in 1980 when he became president. But if the Canal issue was not the thing that resulted in Republican gains, Reagan’s supposed scare tactics were not what advanced the Republicans in the Congress.

In the initial entry, I divided Clymer’s article into the part I said was revealing of liberal prejudice, and the part that I said seemed interesting and plausible. But if Mr. Levine is correct, then the whole of Clymer’s argument, not just half of it, is an expression of liberal prejudice.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 15, 2008 11:01 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):