October Surprise; No – November Shock; Maybe – October 20, 1980
35 years ago today, on October 20th 1980, we were looking back at the week with a mixture of anxiety, perplexity and amazement. The hostage drama with 50 Americans still being held by Iranians was dragging on – with hints here and there of a “possible breakthrough” – and questions arising over the presence of Iranian Prime Minister Raji in New York, presumably to plead Iran‘s case before the UN Security Council, but which many thought was an indication of some secret dealmaking in the works to release the hostages. On the surface, no such talks were being held – despite public feelers and expressions of dismay that all Raji was in New York for was to talk about the Iran-Iraq War (which was going badly for Iran during that week). Still – no word, no release and no deal.
Secret deals for hostages release or not, Raji was in New York to appeal to the UN to intervene on the Iran-Iraq War, which was spiraling out of control quickly, with Iraq on the verge of capturing the important oil refinery city of Abadan, and claims the Iraqis were well on their way to Tehran. Things were not boding well for the Iranians on a lot of fronts.
Meanwhile, hot on the campaign trail, Governor Reagan was expressing eagerness to debate Jimmy Carter, while 3rd Party Candidate John Anderson was expressing disappointment that The League Of Women Voters (who were putting on the debates) excluded him from being a participant. The League explained their dis-invitation to Anderson as a reaction to his slipping in the polls. Anderson balked, saying the polls meant nothing. Governor Reagan also dropped a bombshell at a campaign news conference, saying if elected and if the opportunity arose, he would appoint a Woman as Supreme Court Justice. And even though he was no supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, he dangled another carrot to the potential electorate by saying, if elected, he would follow his convictions and go after intelligent, qualified and responsible Women for placement in jobs in his Administration. The Carter Administration scoffed, saying it was a lot of campaign promises – pointing out that, when he was Governor; of the 600 appointments of Judges only 12 were women. And of the three appointments to the California Supreme Court, none were women. And on it went; ramping up to fever-pitch ahead of November 4th.
The infamous ABSCAM tapes were released, and approved for broadcast by the Supreme Court, overturning an injunction by disgraced Congressman Michael Myers, who had sued to block their release. Within hours, the country was able to see and hear Congressman Myers being bribed during a secret meeting at Kennedy Airport in New York the previous June. Myers thought he was speaking to an aide for a wealthy Oil Sheik, but it turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. Myers was the first to be convicted among the six House members indicted in ABSCAM. Other tapes from other stung Congressmen were forthcoming.
Economic news was looking rosy. Economic indicator pointed to a possible end to the recession as housing starts were up – jobs numbers were up and the nations economy grew at a modest 1%.
And Chrysler was busy celebrating sales figures on the new K-Cars; over 10,000 were sold in a 10 day period. It was the best new car start for Chrysler ever. So good in fact, that Chrysler announced it was raising the average price of a K-Car $295.00, nearly a 4% increase.
And that’s a small slice of what happened this week – the one ending on October 20th 1980, as reported by ABC Radio and their World News This Week Program.
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