I’m Feeling Good About John McCain?

Michael Barone likens this year’s election to the election of 1976. I think he has a point. The current political environment has something in common with the aftermath of Watergate and the toxic political environment that confronted Republicans in 1976.

In tracing the source of Ford’s comeback nearly to catch Carter by election day, Barone credits the Ford campaign with altering the mood of the nation. Among other things, he cites the Ford campaign’s use of the song “I’m Feeling Good About America” with contributing to the comeback (“I’m feeling good about Gerald Ford, and I’m feeling good about me!”).

I have absolutely no recollection of “I’m Feeling Good About America,” but I do recall Meredith Willson’s “Whip Inflation Now.” The song had been commissioned by the Ford administration as part of its memorable Whip Inflation Now campaign. In President Ford’s speech announcing the WIN program he included helpful advice to average Americans struggling with the effects of his own (and Nixon’s) bad economic policy: be sure to eat all the food on your plate. He also commissioned the Whip Inflation Now theme song, played live on television by Willson following Ford’s speech announcing the WIN program.

Alan Greenspan remembers too. In The Age of Turbulence, Greenspan recalls his reaction as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the Whip Inflation Now campaign when it was presented at a senior staff meeting by the White House speechwriting team: “This is unbelievable stupidity. What am I doing here?”

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