Bill Clinton, Robert Byrd, Tip O'Neill, and Genesis: Why the '80s Sucked, in Less Than 9 Minutes (UPDATED)

This 1985 Democratic Party response to President Ronald Reagan's State of the Union address is, if nothing else, a vivid reminder that the state of our national production values has improved tenfold since then:

Dug up by Buzzfeed.

UPDATE: Not so fast, Buzzfeed! Reason's Jesse Walker wrote about that video back in 2010. Excerpt:

Every now and then, someone tries a different approach [to responding to State of the Union addresses]. A few times in the '80s, for example, the Dems decided to fill their slot with what amounted to infomercials for the Democratic Party. These tone-deaf programs reached their nadir in 1985, with a show hosted by a young Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton. Just two months before, Ronald Reagan had defeated Walter Mondale in a landslide. The stars of the State of the Union response were a series of purportedly typical Democratic voters, each of whom seemed to have been selected to appeal to those young, upwardly mobile Americans who wished the party had nominated Gary Hart instead. Indeed, the evening's only reference to Mondale came when one of the interviewees attacked the candidate's pledge to raise taxes. A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee explained the strategy to the press: "We needed to tell the American people we were wrong."

Did it work? That spokesman's name is Terry Michael; these days he considers himself a libertarian and occasionally contributes to Reason. "I think it was really dumb," he tells me. "In the aftermath of the slaughtering we took in November '84, there was this zeitgeist within the party 'leadership' that we were being out-communicated by the Great Communicator and his communication wizards." Aside from backing down from Mondale's suicidal tax pledge, it "never occurred to our brilliant thinkers that it was the message, not the medium, that did us in."

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  • crashland||

    Turn it offff, turn it off, turn it off keep it off for good

  • SIV||

    History might have turned out differently if Warren Beatty hadn't declined the emcee slot.

  • Heroic Mulatto||


    Fuck you, Welch.

  • SIV||

    The 1980s was the age of Phoebe Cates in spandex.

  • Tim||

    Whatever happened to Phoebe?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Otto got her and kept her. She likes Italian.

  • ||

    She married Kevin Kline...

  • Brett L||

    Rick Springfield? Really? Also, is that not just "Jesse's Girl" redone? I only listened through the first chorus, but I'd swear it was.

  • Drake||

    The 80's were fucking awesome! The Democrats have sucked ass since Polk left office.

    Did Tip fart massively at 1:22?

  • Matt Welch||

    Occam's Razor & whatnot.

  • Chris Mallory||

    Grover Cleveland was good. Probably the last good president.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Grover Cleveland tried to give back Hawai'i!

  • Alan||

    Are you suggesting that if Grover Cleveland had managed to give back Hawaii that we might have forgone other colonial projects like the Philippines, wouldn't have been drawn into the Second World War, would have one less socialist-leaning state in the union, and if we wished to visit Hawaii it would be as cheap as the Caribbean islands?

  • #||

    "Grover Cleveland was good. Probably the last good president."

    No love for cool Cal?

  • Don Mynack||

    Tip Fart! Tip Fart!

  • Don Mynack||

    Also, I dig the 5 minutes of endless credits.

  • SIV||

    It took a lot of scotch tape and razor blades to edit video back then.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Bobby Byrd was such a creepy fuck. I can see why he liked to wear a hood.


    fuck that!! BOBBY BYRD IS THE SHIT

  • Sam Grove||

    I saw Robert Byrd playing a fiddle to a crowd in Summersville, WV a long time ago.

  • Tim||

    Genesis? If they released "Illegal ALien" today their careers would be over. In fact Britain would probably prosecute them.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Even so, I can't approve of today's Britain.

  • Ryan60657||

    2:40 of the 8:00 ad are credits. 33% of the ad are people ensuring they get their share of credit. Unbelievable. Don't they know -- They Didn't Build That!

  • Gladstone||

    Tip O'Neill should be in a dress.

  • Average Dude||

    Two (kind) points I can make about this video:

    1. "Turn It On Again" - at least it's one of the better Genesis songs.

    2. Bill Clinton - at least he's not rocking a mullet.

  • spyle||

    hey matt i just watched a very telling exchange between Judge Napolitano and Glenn Beck

    Beck seems to be openly calling out Karl Rove on his Rino-pac and for the GOP to either accept libertarianism or be replaced by a 3rd party.. the exchange was amazingly good and it's interesting how someone as neo-con as Beck used to be now cuddles up to libertarianism.. this seems like another milestone in the change of political wind, not sure if you took notice of this interview.

    Beck even asked whether libertarians will embrace this new political opportunity and welcome people with open arms and build a big tent, or will they continue with their infighting.. it's very interesting how someone who used to be an outsider like Glenn Beck seems generally interested in libertarianism and shows genuine interest in seeing it becomee a major political force.

    link again

  • spyle||

    sry for typos.. not a very patient poster


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