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Professors Offer Analysis Of Reagan Win

News Reaction

By Nancy F. Bauer and The CRIMSON Staff

The country's overwhelming support for President-elect Ronald Reagan yesterday is more an indication of widespread voter dissatisfaction with the Carter administration than of a conservative up-surge in the nation, Harvard professors said last night.

Expressing disappointment over the former California governor's victory, several professors warned of impending national disillusionment with Reagan and predicted severe foreign policy blunders by the new president.

Terming his immediate reaction to the Reagan sweep "absolute horror," Stanley H. Hoffmann, professor of Government, said he believes the nation registered a "protest vote" against the present economic situation. Hoffman, who called himself a "reluctant Carter supporter," said, "I'm afraid on foreign affairs--it could be a very costly experiment."

David Riesman, Ford Professor of Social Sciences, attributed Carter's sound defeat partly to an unusually small participation in foreign-policy debate by women. "Organized women got off the track by devoting themselves to ERA and feminist issues instead of war and peace," he said.

Calling Americans' perception that the country is weakening "totally unjustified," Riesman said he believes the Reagan presidency will lead to an increased national cynicism.

"I think the country is going to be in for a tremendous disappointment because no president can possibly deliver on what President Reagan has promised," Riesman added.

But Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. '53 called Carter "weak, vacillating, and incompetent" and said Reagan's victory indicates "the good sense of the American people."

Although he said he was sorry to see some of the Democrats in the Senate fall to conservatives, Mansfield added that he believes "there is a surplus of liberal Democrats in Congress."

The United States should fear Reagan because of his "total lack of judgment and reliance on people who are trigger-happy," James C. Thomson, curator of the Nieman fellowships, said. He added, however, that he believes the president-elect's victory may have a silver lining: "Fighting Carter was like punching pillows--now we really have clear-cut evil to deal with."

Saying he worries about Reagan's ability to handle a crisis, Douglas A. Hibbs Jr., professor of Government, said he attributes the Reagan landslide to Carter's poor economic record and to the Republican candidate's lack of serious campaign mistakes.

"I think everyone was counting on his projecting a B-movie actor image," Hibbs said. He also called the Republican upset of liberal senatorial incumbents "Carter's legacy to the Democratic party."

Riesman pointed to the defeat of Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.) as the loss of "a close friend of Harvard," noting the liberal incumbent's concern for higher education.

Republican upsets in the congressional races could "ease the administration's path in a hell of a lot of respects," Richard E. Neustadt, Littauer Professor of Public Administration, said. "Reagan should see a lot of support from both Houses if he plays it right," he added.

Joseph S. Nye Jr., professor of Government, said he fears that Reagan will prove a "do-nothing" president and that he will not be able to establish "a coherent administration."

But Mansfield said he sees two demographic benefits from the Reagan victory and the liberal defeats in the Senate: "There should be more professors teaching in Cambridge and a lot more defeated Democrats at the Kennedy School this year.

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