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

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Chapter 119: Take a Chance on Me - The 1978 Midterm Elections
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Above: Senators-Elect William Cohen (R - ME) and David Durenberger (R - MN); and Governor-Elect Dick Thornburgh (R - PA). These men represented a resurgent moderate to liberal “Romney-ite” wing of the Republican Party.

“If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey, I’m still free; take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go when you’re feeling down”
- ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” - William F. Buckley, Jr.

“The ability to change one’s views without losing one’s seat is the mark of a great politician.” - Mo Udall

The 1978 United States elections posed, as midterm elections often do, a powerful opportunity to the party not presently in power. In this case, the Republicans.

Exiled from the White House by the smiling Arizona cowboy two years prior, the Grand Old Party then spent the first half of Mo Udall’s term plotting their next move, politically. The 38th President was certainly liberal. His personal views on social issues from abortion to capital punishment to gay liberation were certainly far ahead of most everyday Americans. But the Udall administration had also done little in terms of direct policy to advance that agenda. Doe v. Bolton made abortion a mute point, for the time being at least. Capital punishment being an issue left to the states was “settled law” in the President’s own words. And LGBT+ issues were largely relegated to certain localities, namely the coastal enclaves of New York and San Francisco.
The broad thrust of Udall’s efforts - energy and fiscal policy - enjoyed widespread appeal. Polls consistently showed that Americans trusted Udall to get the nation on the path to energy independence. MoCare, the President’s much-touted universal healthcare program, was being rolled out to much fanfare. His efforts on behalf of miners and other labor unions brought him strong blue-collar support in the midwest. And his environmental achievements and dovish foreign policy appealed to the youth and intelligentsia. Though inflation remained high, which cost him the support of suburbanites and some independents, the fact of the matter was clear: President Udall was popular.

Thus, with a direct attack on the administration unlikely to play well heading into the midterms, the GOP needed to develop a different strategy.

They began by looking inward and doing some soul-searching. As their party’s first President once pointed out, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. For years, the Republicans had allowed the divisions in their party to deepen, wounds given and received to fester into resentments, even grudges. The age-old divide within the party between liberals and conservatives continued to foment conflict. Even William F. Buckley, that stalwart of the New Right, lamented in an editorial, “We [Republicans] cannot effectively exploit their [Democrats] division at present. We need to unify…”

Unity was certainly a logical goal for the GOP, but achieving it would prove difficult. Before a coherent campaign message could be composed and delivered, a consensus needed to be reached within the party on a number of issues. To do that, party leaders and strategists decided that they needed to begin by identifying which issues the rank and file could agree on. As it happened, there were a number of these.

Inflation, which had peaked at nearly 12% in 1974, had fallen to 7.6% by 1978. By all accounts, the appointment of Paul Vocker to the Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve by President Bush had been a success. Though high interest rates hurt aggregate demand, and probably led to slower economic recovery, President Udall reaffirmed his commitment to “whipping inflation”. Volcker, and his policies, remained. That said, the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath, as well as other conflicts in the Middle East kept oil prices, and thus gas prices, high. For all the President’s efforts toward energy independence, most were long-term solutions. In the short term, Americans were feeling the pinch in their pocket books.

Whether they blamed the still-high inflation rate on excessive government spending or on inadequate supplies of goods and services, virtually all Republicans agreed that curbing inflation could be a winning issue for them. They took that ball and ran with it.

There was also broad agreement in the party to fight “corruption” and “inefficiency” in government. Even liberals of the GOP’s Romney-ite wing agreed that the “excesses” of the last two decades needed to be reined in. Criminality. Deceit. Graft. These stood in the way of good, honest government. There it was again. “Good government”, that old adage of President Romney. New York City’s near brush with bankruptcy, mirrored in so many municipalities nationwide, brought this issue to the forefront.

Much to the delight of Buckley and his allies, positions that were once seen as more conservative drifted into the Republican mainstream throughout this election cycle. For one thing, cutting taxes, not just on lower and middle income brackets, but across the board, became more popular. Many GOP candidates, especially for the House of Representatives, argued that taxes on the nation’s “producers” - big business and industry - had been kept too high for too long. They argued that if this tax burden were reduced, then prices for consumers could begin to fall as well.

Likewise, strategists like Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and a young Lee Atwater, men who had been involved in Phyllis Schlafley’s primary challenge of President Bush, continued to hone their craft. They perfected a new type of campaign for the candidates they managed - sharp, edgy, and emotional - targeting “wedge-issues” such as mandatory school busing, abortion, and gun rights. Though Schlafley’s campaign to steal the nomination from a sitting President in ‘76 had likely been doomed from the start, the tactics that her campaign pioneered were, unfortunately, proving effective in more competitive races.

Though the national party continued to oppose open race-baiting and other tactics to court Southern voters, many Republican candidates took it upon themselves to adopt “soft” versions of this strategy anyway. “Law and order” rhetoric continued to play well as the national crime rate remained high. Thus, the Republicans found their issues for 1978: inflation; corruption; tax cuts; law and order.

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Despite calls from those on the communitarian wing of the Democratic Party to moderate his rhetoric and positions, President Udall largely stuck to his progressive ideals during his first two years in office. Again, this made him popular with the party base, but it also made him vulnerable with independents and moderates.

Republicans did not attack the President, but they did highlight and campaign against his less popular programs in an attempt to court those groups. They made attack ads asking whether the nation could afford “eskimo poetry” (quoting former Vice President Reagan) with the cost of living at an all-time high. They questioned, in the aftermath of the SALT II treaty being defeated in the Senate, if the President could continue to be seen as a strong leader, capable of passing important legislation.

While President Udall remained an enthusiastic defender of both his record and his policies, not everyone in his party was happy to do the same. Members of the aforementioned communitarian wing, including Senator Joe Biden (D - DE) who faced reelection that year, worked to distance themselves from the President, striking a more moderate tone, and calling for “bipartisan” solutions to issues like inflation and unemployment. Communitarians likewise held more sway throughout the south and west. In states like Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi, Democratic candidates asked the President to either soften his rhetoric, or to not appear on their behalf, sending other surrogates like the Vice President, Lloyd Bentsen, instead. Udall acquiesced, focusing his stump speeches on his labor record and the environment.

On the bright side for Democrats, in most of the country, the President’s approval rating remained high. Gallup polls done a month before the midterms showed his numbers steady at about 52%, with only 41% disapproval. In Mo’s mind, that left the other 7%, the “undecideds” as people he could convince. Welcomed in most places, Udall campaigned vigorously on behalf of his fellow Democrats, and urged the American people to give him the votes he needed to fulfill the other pledges he had made to them two years prior.

The results were, strangely, encouraging for both parties.

The Senate of the 96th US Congress
Democrats (Majority) - 57 (+1)
Republicans (Minority) - 43 (-1)

Alabama
John J. Sparkman (D)
James B. Allen (D)


Alaska
Theodore F. Stevens (R) - Reelected over Donald Hobbs. R Hold.
Frank Murkowski (R)


Arizona
Barry Goldwater (R)
Dennis DeConcini (D)

Arkansas
Dale Bumpers (D)
David Pryor (D) - Succeeded retiring incumbent McClellan. D Hold.


California
John V. Tunney (D)
Shirley Temple Black (R)

Colorado
Gary Hart (D)
William L. Armstrong (R) - Defeated incumbent Haskell. R Gain.

Connecticut
Abraham A. Ribicoff (D)
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (R)

Delaware
Joseph Biden (D) - Easily reelected. D Hold.
Thomas Maloney (D)


Florida
Lawton Chiles (D)
Jack Eckerd (R)

Georgia
Sam Nunn (D) - Reelected over John W. Stokes. D Hold.
James Earl Carter (D)


Hawaii
Daniel K. Inouye (D)
Spark Matsunaga (D)


Idaho
Frank F. Church (D)
James A. McClure (R) - Reelected. R Hold.

Illinois
Charles H. Percy (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Donald Rumsfeld (R)


Indiana
Richard Lugar (R)
Edgar Whitcomb (R)


Iowa
Jack R. Miller (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
David M. Stanley (R)


Kansas
Bob Dole (R)
Nancy Kassebaum (R) - Succeeded retiring incumbent Pearson. R Hold.


Kentucky
Walter B. Huddleston (D) - Reelected. D Hold.
Wendell Ford (D)


Louisiana
Russell B. Long (D)
John McKeithen (D) - Reelected. D Hold.


Maine
Edmund Muskie (D)
William Cohen (R) - Defeated incumbent Hathaway. R Gain.

Maryland
Charles Mathias (R) - Replaced Agnew, who resigned amid Scandal in 1977.
Paul Sarbanes (D)

Massachusetts
Edward M. Kennedy (D)
Paul Tsongas (D) - Defeated incumbent Conte. D Gain.


Michigan
Robert P. Griffin (R) - Reelected over Carl Levin. R Hold.
Donald Riegle (D)

Minnesota
Walter Mondale (D) - Reelected in regular Senate election. D Hold.
David Durenberger (R) - Succeeded retiring incumbent Stassen. R Hold.

Mississippi
John C. Stennis (D)
Charles Evers (D) - Elected to fill retiring incumbent Eastlund. D Hold.


Missouri
Thomas F. Eagleton (D)
Jerry Litton (D)


Montana
Jack Melcher (D)
Max Baucus (D) - Defeated incumbent Hibbard. D Gain.


Nebraska
Edward Zorinsky (D)
J. James Exon (D) succeeded retiring incumbent Curtis. D Gain.


Nevada
Howard W. Cannon (D)
Paul Laxalt (R)

New Hampshire
Louis Wyman (R)
Gordon J. Humphrey (R) defeats incumbent McIntyre. R Gain.


New Jersey
Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D)
Bill Bradley (D) - defeated incumbent Case. D Gain.


New Mexico
Pete Domenici (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Harrison Schmitt (R)


New York
Robert F. Kennedy (D)
Ramsey Clark (D)


North Carolina
J. Terry Sanford (D)
Jesse Helms (R) - Reelected. R Hold.

North Dakota
Milton R. Young (R)
Quentin M. Burdick (D)

Ohio
John Glenn (D)
Robert Taft, Jr. (R)

Oklahoma
Henry Bollman (R)
David Boren (D) - Succeeded retiring incumbent Bartlett. D Gain.

Oregon
Mark O. Hatfield (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Bob Packwood (R)


Pennsylvania
Richard Schweiker (R)
William J. Green III (D)

Rhode Island
John Chafee (R)
Claiborne Pell (D) - Reelected. D Hold.

South Carolina
Strom Thurmond (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Ernest Hollings (D)

South Dakota
Leo Thorsness (R)
Larry Pressler (R) succeeds retiring incumbent Abourezk. R Gain.


Tennessee
Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
James Sasser (D)

Texas
Audie Murphy (D)
John Tower (R) - Succeeds retiring incumbent Sanders. R Gain.

Utah
Jake Garn (R)
Orrin Hatch (R)


Vermont
Richard W. Mallary (R)
Patrick Leahy (D)

Virginia
Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (D)
John Warner (R) succeeds retiring incumbent Scott. R Hold.

Washington
Warren G. Magnuson (D)
Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (D)


West Virginia
Jennings Randolph (D)
Robert C. Byrd (D)


Wisconsin
William Proxmire (D)
Gaylord A. Nelson (D)


Wyoming
Gale McGee (D)
Alan K. Simpson (R) succeeded retiring incumbent Hansen. R Hold.


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Senate Leadership:

Senate Majority Leader
: Russell B. Long (D - LA)
Senate Majority Whip: Edward M. Kennedy (D - MA)

Senate Minority Leader: Howard Baker (R - TN)
Senate Minority Whip: Donald Rumsfeld (R - IL)


The House of Representatives:

Democrats: 246 (-14)
Republicans: 189 (+14)

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 B. Anderson (R - IL)

Gubernatorial Races:

Alabama - Fob James (D), succeeded term limited incumbent Wallace. D Hold.
Alaska - Jay Hammond (R), reelected. R Hold.
Arizona - Evan Meachem (R), reelected. R Hold.
Arkansas - Joe Percell (D), succeeded retiring incumbent Pryor. D Hold.
California - Jerry Brown (D), succeeded retiring incumbent Roosevelt. D Hold.
Colorado - Richard Lamm (D), reelected. D Hold.
Connecticut - Ella T. Grasso (D), reelected. D Hold.
Florida - Bob Graham (D), succeeded term-limited Askew. D Hold.
Georgia - George Busbee (D), reelected. D Hold.
Hawaii - George Ariyoshi (D), reelected. D Hold.
Idaho - John V. Evans (D), reelected. D Hold.
Illinois - James R. Thompson (R), reelected. R Hold.
Iowa - Robert D. Ray (R), reelected. R Hold.
Kansas - John Carlin (D), defeated incumbent Bennett. D Gain.
Maine - Joseph E. Brennan (D), succeeded incumbent Longley. D Gain.
Maryland - Harry Hughes (D), succeeded incumbent Mandel. D Hold.
Massachusetts - Michael Dukakis (D), reelected. D Hold.
Michigan - William Milliken (R), reelected. R Hold.
Minnesota - Rudy Perpich (DFL), reelected. D Hold.
Nebraska - Charles Thone (R), succeeded incumbent Exon. R Gain.
Nevada - Robert List (R), succeeded incumbent O'Callaghan. R Gain.
New Hampshire - Hugh Gallen (D), defeated incumbent Thomson. D Gain.
New Mexico - Bruce King (D), succeeded incumbent Apodaca. D Hold.
New York - Hugh Carey (D), reelected. D Hold
Ohio - Dick Celeste (D), defeated incumbent Rhodes. D Gain.
Oklahoma - George Nigh (D), succeeded term limited incumbent Boren. D Hold.
Oregon - Victor Atiyeh (R), defeated incumbent Straub. R Gain.
Pennsylvania - Dick Thornburgh (R) defeated incumbent Schapp. R Gain.
Rhode Island - John Garrahy (D), reelected. D Hold.
South Carolina - Richard Riley (D), succeeded two-term incumbent Edwards. D Gain.
South Dakota - Bill Janklow (R), defeated Democratic candidate McKellips. R Gain.
Tennessee - Lamar Alexander (R), succeeded retiring incumbent Blanton. R Gain.
Texas - Dolph Briscoe (D), reelected. D Hold.
Vermont - Richard Smelling (R), reelected. R Hold.
Wisconsin - Martin J. Schreiber (D), reelected. D Hold.
Wyoming - John C. Ostland (R), defeated incumbent Herschler. R Gain.

In the end, Democrats maintained their control of both chambers of Congress. Their loss of only fourteen seats to the GOP in the House meant that Speaker Tip O’Neill (D - MA) would still have plenty of wiggle room when it came to getting legislation passed. In the Senate, Majority Leader Russell B. Long (D - LA) actually made a net gain of one seat! President Udall and his allies celebrated the results as an affirmation of the American people’s trust in them. There may have been some slowdown to “Mo-mentum”, but the President was poised to make a strong comeback in the second half of his first term.

Republicans, though disappointed somewhat by the margins, were modestly pleased too. Their efforts to unite the party behind a single coherent ideology had borne fruit, and would continue to do so. Party leaders and strategists were already looking ahead to 1980. With former Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA) as the all-but unspoken frontrunner for the nomination, the party did a fine job laying the groundwork for a united party and ensuring the Gipper’s victory. Though moderate candidates put up the strongest performances of the night for the GOP, the overall mood of the party had shifted to the right, especially on economic issues. This helped them draw a sharp contrast to the President and his party. Unless the political situation changed dramatically before 1980, the Republican campaign for the White House would once again be centered on: inflation; corruption; tax cuts; and law and order.

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Above: President Mo Udall (D - AZ) and Former Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA), arguably the two most popular and influential politicians in the United States in the aftermath of the 1978 Midterm Elections. Both the national press and American people eagerly awaited an anticipated showdown between “the two wittiest men in politics” in the 1980 Presidential Election.

Notable Races

In Pennsylvania, where more than sixty members of Democratic Governor Milton Schapp’s administration had been indicted on corruption charges, moderate Republican Dick Thornburgh made tremendous headway by promising to put a stop to the misconduct. Thornburgh had previously built his reputation as a U.S. Attorney, appointed by President Romney back in 1971. In that position, Thornburgh fought organized crime and later successfully took Pittsburgh steel companies to court for polluting the state’s rivers. With running mate Bill Scranton (himself a son of a former PA governor) at his side, Thornburgh easily defeated Schapp in his reelection bid. Thornburgh’s victory was just one of many for moderate Republicans in ‘78.

In Maine, two-term congressman William Cohen would go on to defeat Democratic incumbent William Hathaway for his U.S. Senate seat. Cohen’s time in the House of Representatives earned him a reputation as a moderate Republican, with liberal views on social issues, and as a “maverick” with the ability to fashion compromise out of discord. Only 38 years old at the time, Cohen was quickly pegged as a possible “rising star” in the GOP after his victory.

Perhaps the most historic victory of the night went to Charles Evers, a 56 year old African-American Civil Rights activist, businessman, and World War II vet, who narrowly won election, as a communitarian Democrat, to the U.S. Senate seat for Mississippi that had, for decades, been occupied by segregationist James Eastlund. Elder brother of the slain activist Medgar Evers, Charles thereafter served as field director of the NAACP in Mississippi. Though his campaign against conservative Republican Thad Cochran was viewed as a “long shot” by the national party, Evers’ devoted followers pushed him over the finish line, making him the first black Senator from Mississippi since Hiram Revels more than a century before. After Republican Edward Brooke, Evers was also the second African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, and the first black Democrat.

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Senator-Elect Charles Evers (D - MS)

Also winning reelection to their various offices were Congressman Dick Cheney (R - WY) and Maryland House of Delegates member Hillary Rodham Bush (R - MD). Cheney has been forging alliances with his former boss, Senator Donald Rumsfeld (R - IL), while Mrs. Rodham Bush has been developing her experience as a practical law maker. Her husband, George Walker Bush, in addition to his work at Lockheed Martin, volunteers with veterans’ advocacy groups.

Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The Golden Age of Terror Continues
It Lives!

Should Reagan be the nominee in 1980, it will be a fight between ATL New Left and New Right. Always nice to see a midterm election that isn't a disaster for the incumbent party.

Do you happen to have the popular vote percentages for the prior Presidential elections? I'd be really curious to see both 1964 and 1976.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
after I saw that President Lincoln has updated this TL:
Great to have you back! Great to return to Blue Skies in Camelot I have missed it. So much has happened in real life that I had to rack my brains to remember what had happened so far in TTL. The midterms were a blast to read. Really excited to see how President Udall does going forward.
 
It'll be fun to see a reversal of the election in America's Funniest President, with Reagan challenging an incumbent Udall. I think Udall has a very good chance. Reaganism wasn't inevitable and was brought about by the Democratic failure to inspire and march towards a better future post-Watergate; that isn't the case here.
 
I didn't know this TL would have an update today and I was surprised by it, but still I'm glad that this TL isn't dead anymore.

Keep it up!!
 
In the immortal words of Dr. Frankenstein, “It’s Live!!” Very glad to see this back!!!

A show down between Mo and Ronny. This’ll be great to see!! Shame there can’t be coalition administrations, a Udall-Reagan joint administration would be fascinating to read about.
 
Read it a long way back. What's going on in USSR and China?
China, after recovering from Lin Biao's disastrous rule following the coup d'etat against Chairman Mao, experienced a much needed reprieve during four relatively harmonious years under Zhou Enlai. The new Chairman's first order of business was in reforming education away from Mao and Lin's Cultural Revolution. Celebration and veneration of traditional Chinese culture was restored. The cult of personality around Mao was also deconstructed. The process overall is similar to the USSR's destalinization in the 50s and 60s. Zhou then passed the torch to Hu Yaobang shortly before his death in January 1976. Under first Zhou and now Hu, the PRC is beginning to take its first steps toward economic reform and liberalization. Deng Xiaoping has been called back into government to help with this process. The PRC was first recognized by the United States under President George Bush in 1974.

As for the Soviet Union... Nikita Khrushchev managed to remain in power until 1968, by outmaneuvering a coup attempt against him. Following his retirement, he attempted to pass the reins to Alexei Kosygin, but Kosygin was himself ousted by the Politburo later that year in the aftermath of the Prague Spring. Former KGB head Yuri Andropov was given the position of First Secretary, and has remained in it since (as of 1978). Andropov's tenure has been a mixed bag overall. The Soviets still invade Afghanistan (in 1974 here) and the political sphere in the USSR has once again taken a more hardline stance. That said, Andropov has allowed some small scale economic reforms to continue, hoping to avoid stagnation.
 
Chapter 119: Take a Chance on Me - The 1978 Midterm Elections
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Above: Senators-Elect William Cohen (R - ME) and David Durenberger (R - MN); and Governor-Elect Dick Thornburgh (R - PA). These men represented a resurgent moderate to liberal “Romney-ite” wing of the Republican Party.

“If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey, I’m still free; take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go when you’re feeling down”
- ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” - William F. Buckley, Jr.

“The ability to change one’s views without losing one’s seat is the mark of a great politician.” - Mo Udall

The 1978 United States elections posed, as midterm elections often do, a powerful opportunity to the party not presently in power. In this case, the Republicans.

Exiled from the White House by the smiling Arizona cowboy two years prior, the Grand Old Party then spent the first half of Mo Udall’s term plotting their next move, politically. The 38th President was certainly liberal. His personal views on social issues from abortion to capital punishment to gay liberation were certainly far ahead of most everyday Americans. But the Udall administration had also done little in terms of direct policy to advance that agenda. Doe v. Bolton made abortion a mute point, for the time being at least. Capital punishment being an issue left to the states was “settled law” in the President’s own words. And LGBT+ issues were largely relegated to certain localities, namely the coastal enclaves of New York and San Francisco.
The broad thrust of Udall’s efforts - energy and fiscal policy - enjoyed widespread appeal. Polls consistently showed that Americans trusted Udall to get the nation on the path to energy independence. MoCare, the President’s much-touted universal healthcare program, was being rolled out to much fanfare. His efforts on behalf of miners and other labor unions brought him strong blue-collar support in the midwest. And his environmental achievements and dovish foreign policy appealed to the youth and intelligentsia. Though inflation remained high, which cost him the support of suburbanites and some independents, the fact of the matter was clear: President Udall was popular.

Thus, with a direct attack on the administration unlikely to play well heading into the midterms, the GOP needed to develop a different strategy.

They began by looking inward and doing some soul-searching. As their party’s first President once pointed out, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. For years, the Republicans had allowed the divisions in their party to deepen, wounds given and received to fester into resentments, even grudges. The age-old divide within the party between liberals and conservatives continued to foment conflict. Even William F. Buckley, that stalwart of the New Right, lamented in an editorial, “We [Republicans] cannot effectively exploit their [Democrats] division at present. We need to unify…”

Unity was certainly a logical goal for the GOP, but achieving it would prove difficult. Before a coherent campaign message could be composed and delivered, a consensus needed to be reached within the party on a number of issues. To do that, party leaders and strategists decided that they needed to begin by identifying which issues the rank and file could agree on. As it happened, there were a number of these.

Inflation, which had peaked at nearly 12% in 1974, had fallen to 7.6% by 1978. By all accounts, the appointment of Paul Vocker to the Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve by President Bush had been a success. Though high interest rates hurt aggregate demand, and probably led to slower economic recovery, President Udall reaffirmed his commitment to “whipping inflation”. Volcker, and his policies, remained. That said, the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath, as well as other conflicts in the Middle East kept oil prices, and thus gas prices, high. For all the President’s efforts toward energy independence, most were long-term solutions. In the short term, Americans were feeling the pinch in their pocket books.

Whether they blamed the still-high inflation rate on excessive government spending or on inadequate supplies of goods and services, virtually all Republicans agreed that curbing inflation could be a winning issue for them. They took that ball and ran with it.

There was also broad agreement in the party to fight “corruption” and “inefficiency” in government. Even liberals of the GOP’s Romney-ite wing agreed that the “excesses” of the last two decades needed to be reined in. Criminality. Deceit. Graft. These stood in the way of good, honest government. There it was again. “Good government”, that old adage of President Romney. New York City’s near brush with bankruptcy, mirrored in so many municipalities nationwide, brought this issue to the forefront.

Much to the delight of Buckley and his allies, positions that were once seen as more conservative drifted into the Republican mainstream throughout this election cycle. For one thing, cutting taxes, not just on lower and middle income brackets, but across the board, became more popular. Many GOP candidates, especially for the House of Representatives, argued that taxes on the nation’s “producers” - big business and industry - had been kept too high for too long. They argued that if this tax burden were reduced, then prices for consumers could begin to fall as well.

Likewise, strategists like Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and a young Lee Atwater, men who had been involved in Phyllis Schlafley’s primary challenge of President Bush, continued to hone their craft. They perfected a new type of campaign for the candidates they managed - sharp, edgy, and emotional - targeting “wedge-issues” such as mandatory school busing, abortion, and gun rights. Though Schlafley’s campaign to steal the nomination from a sitting President in ‘76 had likely been doomed from the start, the tactics that her campaign pioneered were, unfortunately, proving effective in more competitive races.

Though the national party continued to oppose open race-baiting and other tactics to court Southern voters, many Republican candidates took it upon themselves to adopt “soft” versions of this strategy anyway. “Law and order” rhetoric continued to play well as the national crime rate remained high. Thus, the Republicans found their issues for 1978: inflation; corruption; tax cuts; law and order.

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Despite calls from those on the communitarian wing of the Democratic Party to moderate his rhetoric and positions, President Udall largely stuck to his progressive ideals during his first two years in office. Again, this made him popular with the party base, but it also made him vulnerable with independents and moderates.

Republicans did not attack the President, but they did highlight and campaign against his less popular programs in an attempt to court those groups. They made attack ads asking whether the nation could afford “eskimo poetry” (quoting former Vice President Reagan) with the cost of living at an all-time high. They questioned, in the aftermath of the SALT II treaty being defeated in the Senate, if the President could continue to be seen as a strong leader, capable of passing important legislation.

While President Udall remained an enthusiastic defender of both his record and his policies, not everyone in his party was happy to do the same. Members of the aforementioned communitarian wing, including Senator Joe Biden (D - DE) who faced reelection that year, worked to distance themselves from the President, striking a more moderate tone, and calling for “bipartisan” solutions to issues like inflation and unemployment. Communitarians likewise held more sway throughout the south and west. In states like Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi, Democratic candidates asked the President to either soften his rhetoric, or to not appear on their behalf, sending other surrogates like the Vice President, Lloyd Bentsen, instead. Udall acquiesced, focusing his stump speeches on his labor record and the environment.

On the bright side for Democrats, in most of the country, the President’s approval rating remained high. Gallup polls done a month before the midterms showed his numbers steady at about 52%, with only 41% disapproval. In Mo’s mind, that left the other 7%, the “undecideds” as people he could convince. Welcomed in most places, Udall campaigned vigorously on behalf of his fellow Democrats, and urged the American people to give him the votes he needed to fulfill the other pledges he had made to them two years prior.

The results were, strangely, encouraging for both parties.

The Senate of the 96th US Congress
Democrats (Majority) - 57 (+1)
Republicans (Minority) - 43 (-1)

Alabama
John J. Sparkman (D)
James B. Allen (D)


Alaska
Theodore F. Stevens (R) - Reelected over Donald Hobbs. R Hold.
Frank Murkowski (R)


Arizona
Barry Goldwater (R)
Dennis DeConcini (D)

Arkansas
Dale Bumpers (D)
David Pryor (D) - Succeeded retiring incumbent McClellan. D Hold.


California
John V. Tunney (D)
Shirley Temple Black (R)

Colorado
Gary Hart (D)
William L. Armstrong (R) - Defeated incumbent Haskell. R Gain.

Connecticut
Abraham A. Ribicoff (D)
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (R)

Delaware
Joseph Biden (D) - Easily reelected. D Hold.
Thomas Maloney (D)


Florida
Lawton Chiles (D)
Jack Eckerd (R)

Georgia
Sam Nunn (D) - Reelected over John W. Stokes. D Hold.
James Earl Carter (D)


Hawaii
Daniel K. Inouye (D)
Spark Matsunaga (D)


Idaho
Frank F. Church (D)
James A. McClure (R) - Reelected. R Hold.

Illinois
Charles H. Percy (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Donald Rumsfeld (R)


Indiana
Richard Lugar (R)
Edgar Whitcomb (R)


Iowa
Jack R. Miller (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
David M. Stanley (R)


Kansas
Bob Dole (R)
Nancy Kassebaum (R) - Succeeded retiring incumbent Pearson. R Hold.


Kentucky
Walter B. Huddleston (D) - Reelected. D Hold.
Wendell Ford (D)


Louisiana
Russell B. Long (D)
John McKeithen (D) - Reelected. D Hold.


Maine
Edmund Muskie (D)
William Cohen (R) - Defeated incumbent Hathaway. R Gain.

Maryland
Charles Mathias (R) - Replaced Agnew, who resigned amid Scandal in 1977.
Paul Sarbanes (D)

Massachusetts
Edward M. Kennedy (D)
Paul Tsongas (D) - Defeated incumbent Conte. D Gain.


Michigan
Robert P. Griffin (R) - Reelected over Carl Levin. R Hold.
Donald Riegle (D)

Minnesota
Walter Mondale (D) - Reelected in regular Senate election. D Hold.
David Durenberger (R) - Succeeded retiring incumbent Stassen. R Hold.

Mississippi
John C. Stennis (D)
Charles Evers (D) - Elected to fill retiring incumbent Eastlund. D Hold.


Missouri
Thomas F. Eagleton (D)
Jerry Litton (D)


Montana
Jack Melcher (D)
Max Baucus (D) - Defeated incumbent Hibbard. D Gain.


Nebraska
Edward Zorinsky (D)
J. James Exon (D) succeeded retiring incumbent Curtis. D Gain.


Nevada
Howard W. Cannon (D)
Paul Laxalt (R)

New Hampshire
Louis Wyman (R)
Gordon J. Humphrey (R) defeats incumbent McIntyre. R Gain.


New Jersey
Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D)
Bill Bradley (D) - defeated incumbent Case. D Gain.


New Mexico
Pete Domenici (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Harrison Schmitt (R)


New York
Robert F. Kennedy (D)
Ramsey Clark (D)


North Carolina
J. Terry Sanford (D)
Jesse Helms (R) - Reelected. R Hold.

North Dakota
Milton R. Young (R)
Quentin M. Burdick (D)

Ohio
John Glenn (D)
Robert Taft, Jr. (R)

Oklahoma
Henry Bollman (R)
David Boren (D) - Succeeded retiring incumbent Bartlett. D Gain.

Oregon
Mark O. Hatfield (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Bob Packwood (R)


Pennsylvania
Richard Schweiker (R)
William J. Green III (D)

Rhode Island
John Chafee (R)
Claiborne Pell (D) - Reelected. D Hold.

South Carolina
Strom Thurmond (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
Ernest Hollings (D)

South Dakota
Leo Thorsness (R)
Larry Pressler (R) succeeds retiring incumbent Abourezk. R Gain.


Tennessee
Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R) - Reelected. R Hold.
James Sasser (D)

Texas
Audie Murphy (D)
John Tower (R) - Succeeds retiring incumbent Sanders. R Gain.

Utah
Jake Garn (R)
Orrin Hatch (R)


Vermont
Richard W. Mallary (R)
Patrick Leahy (D)

Virginia
Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (D)
John Warner (R) succeeds retiring incumbent Scott. R Hold.

Washington
Warren G. Magnuson (D)
Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (D)


West Virginia
Jennings Randolph (D)
Robert C. Byrd (D)


Wisconsin
William Proxmire (D)
Gaylord A. Nelson (D)


Wyoming
Gale McGee (D)
Alan K. Simpson (R) succeeded retiring incumbent Hansen. R Hold.


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Senate Leadership:

Senate Majority Leader
: Russell B. Long (D - LA)
Senate Majority Whip: Edward M. Kennedy (D - MA)

Senate Minority Leader: Howard Baker (R - TN)
Senate Minority Whip: Donald Rumsfeld (R - IL)


The House of Representatives:

Democrats: 246 (-14)
Republicans: 189 (+14)

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 B. Anderson (R - IL)

Gubernatorial Races:

Alabama - Fob James (D), succeeded term limited incumbent Wallace. D Hold.
Alaska - Jay Hammond (R), reelected. R Hold.
Arizona - Evan Meachem (R), reelected. R Hold.
Arkansas - Joe Percell (D), succeeded retiring incumbent Pryor. D Hold.
California - Jerry Brown (D), succeeded retiring incumbent Roosevelt. D Hold.
Colorado - Richard Lamm (D), reelected. D Hold.
Connecticut - Ella T. Grasso (D), reelected. D Hold.
Florida - Bob Graham (D), succeeded term-limited Askew. D Hold.
Georgia - George Busbee (D), reelected. D Hold.
Hawaii - George Ariyoshi (D), reelected. D Hold.
Idaho - John V. Evans (D), reelected. D Hold.
Illinois - James R. Thompson (R), reelected. R Hold.
Iowa - Robert D. Ray (R), reelected. R Hold.
Kansas - John Carlin (D), defeated incumbent Bennett. D Gain.
Maine - Joseph E. Brennan (D), succeeded incumbent Longley. D Gain.
Maryland - Harry Hughes (D), succeeded incumbent Mandel. D Hold.
Massachusetts - Michael Dukakis (D), reelected. D Hold.
Michigan - William Milliken (R), reelected. R Hold.
Minnesota - Rudy Perpich (DFL), reelected. D Hold.
Nebraska - Charles Thone (R), succeeded incumbent Exon. R Gain.
Nevada - Robert List (R), succeeded incumbent O'Callaghan. R Gain.
New Hampshire - Hugh Gallen (D), defeated incumbent Thomson. D Gain.
New Mexico - Bruce King (D), succeeded incumbent Apodaca. D Hold.
New York - Hugh Carey (D), reelected. D Hold
Ohio - Dick Celeste (D), defeated incumbent Rhodes. D Gain.
Oklahoma - George Nigh (D), succeeded term limited incumbent Boren. D Hold.
Oregon - Victor Atiyeh (R), defeated incumbent Straub. R Gain.
Pennsylvania - Dick Thornburgh (R) defeated incumbent Schapp. R Gain.
Rhode Island - John Garrahy (D), reelected. D Hold.
South Carolina - Richard Riley (D), succeeded two-term incumbent Edwards. D Gain.
South Dakota - Bill Janklow (R), defeated Democratic candidate McKellips. R Gain.
Tennessee - Lamar Alexander (R), succeeded retiring incumbent Blanton. R Gain.
Texas - Dolph Briscoe (D), reelected. D Hold.
Vermont - Richard Smelling (R), reelected. R Hold.
Wisconsin - Martin J. Schreiber (D), reelected. D Hold.
Wyoming - John C. Ostland (R), defeated incumbent Herschler. R Gain.

In the end, Democrats maintained their control of both chambers of Congress. Their loss of only fourteen seats to the GOP in the House meant that Speaker Tip O’Neill (D - MA) would still have plenty of wiggle room when it came to getting legislation passed. In the Senate, Majority Leader Russell B. Long (D - LA) actually made a net gain of one seat! President Udall and his allies celebrated the results as an affirmation of the American people’s trust in them. There may have been some slowdown to “Mo-mentum”, but the President was poised to make a strong comeback in the second half of his first term.

Republicans, though disappointed somewhat by the margins, were modestly pleased too. Their efforts to unite the party behind a single coherent ideology had borne fruit, and would continue to do so. Party leaders and strategists were already looking ahead to 1980. With former Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA) as the all-but unspoken frontrunner for the nomination, the party did a fine job laying the groundwork for a united party and ensuring the Gipper’s victory. Though moderate candidates put up the strongest performances of the night for the GOP, the overall mood of the party had shifted to the right, especially on economic issues. This helped them draw a sharp contrast to the President and his party. Unless the political situation changed dramatically before 1980, the Republican campaign for the White House would once again be centered on: inflation; corruption; tax cuts; and law and order.

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Above: President Mo Udall (D - AZ) and Former Vice President Ronald Reagan (R - CA), arguably the two most popular and influential politicians in the United States in the aftermath of the 1978 Midterm Elections. Both the national press and American people eagerly awaited an anticipated showdown between “the two wittiest men in politics” in the 1980 Presidential Election.

Notable Races

In Pennsylvania, where more than sixty members of Democratic Governor Milton Schapp’s administration had been indicted on corruption charges, moderate Republican Dick Thornburgh made tremendous headway by promising to put a stop to the misconduct. Thornburgh had previously built his reputation as a U.S. Attorney, appointed by President Romney back in 1971. In that position, Thornburgh fought organized crime and later successfully took Pittsburgh steel companies to court for polluting the state’s rivers. With running mate Bill Scranton (himself a son of a former PA governor) at his side, Thornburgh easily defeated Schapp in his reelection bid. Thornburgh’s victory was just one of many for moderate Republicans in ‘78.

In Maine, two-term congressman William Cohen would go on to defeat Democratic incumbent William Hathaway for his U.S. Senate seat. Cohen’s time in the House of Representatives earned him a reputation as a moderate Republican, with liberal views on social issues, and as a “maverick” with the ability to fashion compromise out of discord. Only 38 years old at the time, Cohen was quickly pegged as a possible “rising star” in the GOP after his victory.

Perhaps the most historic victory of the night went to Charles Evers, a 56 year old African-American Civil Rights activist, businessman, and World War II vet, who narrowly won election, as a communitarian Democrat, to the U.S. Senate seat for Mississippi that had, for decades, been occupied by segregationist James Eastlund. Elder brother of the slain activist Medgar Evers, Charles thereafter served as field director of the NAACP in Mississippi. Though his campaign against conservative Republican Thad Cochran was viewed as a “long shot” by the national party, Evers’ devoted followers pushed him over the finish line, making him the first black Senator from Mississippi since Hiram Revels more than a century before. After Republican Edward Brooke, Evers was also the second African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, and the first black Democrat.

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Senator-Elect Charles Evers (D - MS)

Also winning reelection to their various offices were Congressman Dick Cheney (R - WY) and Maryland House of Delegates member Hillary Rodham Bush (R - MD). Cheney has been forging alliances with his former boss, Senator Donald Rumsfeld (R - IL), while Mrs. Rodham Bush has been developing her experience as a practical law maker. Her husband, George Walker Bush, in addition to his work at Lockheed Martin, volunteers with veterans’ advocacy groups.

Next Time on Blue Skies in Camelot: The Golden Age of Terror Continues
Thanks for the update! Kind of blows my mind to see how similar but also how different national and state politics were "only" 40-some years ago (doesn't seem that long to me). For example, ITTL IL has two GOP senators and a GOP governor (I remember Percy and Thompson from real life), while MO and KY have all Dem Senators.
 
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Minor Movie Retcons
To keep things moving after Chapter 119, I'm happy to inform you all that I'm currently working on Chapter 120, as well as the Pop Culture update for 1978. I have a few minor retcons to announce for the castings of American Graffiti, Jaws, Star Wars, Superman (1978), and Batman (1989).

After considering past comments from several of you, I've decided to take some of your feedback on the castings of these films in particular into consideration. Namely, I am making the following changes:

Mark Hamill is NOT cast in American Graffiti or Jaws. These parts will instead go to Richard Dreyfuss, as they did IOTL. This allows Luke Skywalker to still be Hamill's big breakthrough role, and keep Dreyfuss' career intact as well.

After much reflection about Star Wars, I realized a much better Darth Vader was staring me in the face all along... Sir Christopher Lee! Given his history with Peter Cushing, imposing physical frame, and experience as a dread villain on screen (not to mention his OTL involvement in Star Wars), I've decided to retcon Lee as my Darth Vader ITTL.

Superman (1978) will still be directed by Steven Spielberg, and will be detailed in the upcoming Pop Culture update. But for now, I've decided to have Stockard Channing be given the role of Lois Lane, rather than Carrie Fisher. Christopher Reeve and Fisher still date and later, marry, ITTL. They do not meet as castmates, however.

Batman (1989), directed by a favorite of mine in Tim Burton, will be detailed more extensively when we get to the late 80s in the TL. For now, I will grant the following sneak peek at the cast list:

Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
Willem Dafoe as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Sean Young as Vicki Vale
Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Jack Palance as Rupert Thorne
 

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President Udall's Foreign Policy
To briefly summarize Mo Udall's foreign policy thus far... (As to whether or not it's "good", I suppose that's up to the reader to decide)

Upon taking office, Udall reoriented U.S. foreign policy towards a new emphasis on human rights, democratic values, nuclear non-proliferation, and global poverty. Udall ended U.S. support for the Somoza regime in Nicaragua and cut back or terminated military aid to all nations whom he believed committed "blatant" human rights violations. Controversially (for some), this even included Saudi Arabia. Though the oil-rich Saudis were seen by most in Washington as "natural" customers for U.S. military weapons, hardware, and development/training, Udall believed that their human rights abuses (and extreme ideology) were too much to stomach. Though the Saudis could have represented a counter-weight to the growing power of the UAR (a Soviet ally) in the Middle East, Udall instead favored closer ties with Iran (though the new republic would remain aloof and join the non-aligned movement), Israel, Egypt, and other nations that had shown signs of being willing to negotiate and foster democracy. Udall also showed interest in renewed talks with Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries to win greater recognition for Israel and build on the progress made by Bush's "Walker's Point Accords".

Udall negotiated the Torrijos–Udall Treaties, which provided for the return of the Panama Canal to Panama in 1999 (as Carter did IOTL).

He also became the first U.S. president to visit Sub-Saharan Africa, a reflection of the region's new importance under his administration.

Taking office during a period of relatively warm relations with China, but growing tensions with the Soviet Union following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1974, Udall began his term by renewing efforts toward peace and reconciliation. He reopened talks for a second strategic arms limitation treaty (though this effort would stall in the Senate following concerns over the Soviets' aggressive moves of late), and ended the embargo of grain to the USSR, feeling that the Bush-era policy had "little effect" on the Soviet economy, but drastically hurt U.S. farmers. When the Soviets did not appear to be equally willing to continue détente (continuing their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, etc.) Udall resumed his criticisms of the USSR for its record on human rights. By the turn of 1979, President Udall is threatening to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics unless the Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan.
 
After much reflection about Star Wars, I realized a much better Darth Vader was staring me in the face all along... Sir Christopher Lee! Given his history with Peter Cushing, imposing physical frame, and experience as a dread villain on screen (not to mention his OTL involvement in Star Wars), I've decided to retcon Lee as my Darth Vader ITTL.
I see great minds think alike; I've had Lee as Vader in my own alt!Star Wars for some time now.
In addition to those reasons, Lee as that same deep vocal range as James Earl Jones, so the cast doesn't have to try to act against "Darth Farmer" and actually gets the voice on set.
I made it up to J.E.J. tho by casting him as Jedi Master Plo-Koon.

Batman (1989), directed by a favorite of mine in Tim Burton, will be detailed more extensively when we get to the late 80s in the TL. For now, I will grant the following sneak peek at the cast list:

Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
Willem Dafoe as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Sean Young as Vicki Vale
Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Jack Palance as Rupert Thorne
Oooh, now that's interesting! Most people cast Defoe as the Joker, it'll be interesting to see him play the hero for once.
Also, nice touch making Rupert Thorne the crime boss; even I never thought of that.
 
To briefly summarize Mo Udall's foreign policy thus far... (As to whether or not it's "good", I suppose that's up to the reader to decide)

Upon taking office, Udall reoriented U.S. foreign policy towards a new emphasis on human rights, democratic values, nuclear non-proliferation, and global poverty. Udall ended U.S. support for the Somoza regime in Nicaragua and cut back or terminated military aid to all nations whom he believed committed "blatant" human rights violations. Controversially (for some), this even included Saudi Arabia. Though the oil-rich Saudis were seen by most in Washington as "natural" customers for U.S. military weapons, hardware, and development/training, Udall believed that their human rights abuses (and extreme ideology) were too much to stomach. Though the Saudis could have represented a counter-weight to the growing power of the UAR (a Soviet ally) in the Middle East, Udall instead favored closer ties with Iran (though the new republic would remain aloof and join the non-aligned movement), Israel, Egypt, and other nations that had shown signs of being willing to negotiate and foster democracy. Udall also showed interest in renewed talks with Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries to win greater recognition for Israel and build on the progress made by Bush's "Walker's Point Accords".

Udall negotiated the Torrijos–Udall Treaties, which provided for the return of the Panama Canal to Panama in 1999 (as Carter did IOTL).

He also became the first U.S. president to visit Sub-Saharan Africa, a reflection of the region's new importance under his administration.

Taking office during a period of relatively warm relations with China, but growing tensions with the Soviet Union following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1974, Udall began his term by renewing efforts toward peace and reconciliation. He reopened talks for a second strategic arms limitation treaty (though this effort would stall in the Senate following concerns over the Soviets' aggressive moves of late), and ended the embargo of grain to the USSR, feeling that the Bush-era policy had "little effect" on the Soviet economy, but drastically hurt U.S. farmers. When the Soviets did not appear to be equally willing to continue détente (continuing their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, etc.) Udall resumed his criticisms of the USSR for its record on human rights. By the turn of 1979, President Udall is threatening to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics unless the Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan.

I do wonder how things will play out when the Lebanon Invasion begins; that's when Israel's good publicity first started to get cracks, which increased with the first intifada and the New Historians showing how the claim that the Palestinians just up and left was a massive lie designed to conceal the mass murder and ethnic cleansing.
 
I see great minds think alike; I've had Lee as Vader in my own alt!Star Wars for some time now.
In addition to those reasons, Lee as that same deep vocal range as James Earl Jones, so the cast doesn't have to try to act against "Darth Farmer" and actually gets the voice on set.
I made it up to J.E.J. tho by casting him as Jedi Master Plo-Koon.


Oooh, now that's interesting! Most people cast Defoe as the Joker, it'll be interesting to see him play the hero for once.
Also, nice touch making Rupert Thorne the crime boss; even I never thought of that.
Thank you! :D
 
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