Flashback: 1987

I've been listening to cassette tapes that feature Radio Iowa material broadcast in 1987 (cassette tapes were cutting edge then, a step above reel-to-reel).  I stumbled across a 1987 interview of Hugh Sidey, the Greenfield, Iowa native who went on to a long career at Life and then Time.

"The problem is that it takes so much money, so much energy, it takes so long that it's a four-year process," Sidey said in 1987 of the 1988 presidential campaign.  "I'd like to see that changed, you know, confine it to, say, a year and a half or a little bit like the British system.  What do they do?  They all are campaigning for six weeks or something like that, so I'd like to see some reform.  I think this is a great weakness, this system that has blown up and I must say, I have to blame television as much as anything because it's money – money that's at the core of it."

Sidey continued that thought, addressing the importance of the 1988 Iowa Caucuses. "All of us feel that the system has become too distorted and there's too much hype and too much stagecraft in it, but the fact of the matter is that Iowa was there and the Iowa Caucus, like it or not, is going to be terribly important," Sidey said.  "…We could solve a lot these problems tomorrow if we just gave up freedom and assigned absolute authority to one party, one officer.  We don't do that, so we go through these tortuous processes and nobody's going to offer the magic solution."

Sidey addressed the Farm Crisis and the U.S. economic situation in 1987. "We've got a weak economy and Reagan's in his last dog-days, but so was Ike and so were others and he's had some problems.  They all have," Sidey said.  "I think we in Washington tend to exaggerate the problems.  The economy is the principle one and that's where he's the weakest. Now, will a new president be able to solve all those things?  No. You know that. We all know that. A new president, though, will be able to set new priorities in new directions and maybe be able to do it a little bit better and improve things a little bit here and there as, indeed, Reagan did over his predecessor, but you know, they're all going to run into problems.  That's the price of freedom."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.