Rich Galen

I have a rule about Tweeting: If I delay for even a nano-second from pressing the "Tweet" button, I don't send it. This was an example of something that I did not send yesterday afternoon:

How much of the keening over the death of Mandela is by people feeling guilt over largely ignoring his having been in jail for 3 decades?

I didn't send that, because I wasn't sure of who was in charge of what during the 27 years that Nelson Mandela was incarcerated from 1962 to 1989.

Now I do.

In those years - for every single day of those 27 years - a Democrat was Speaker of the U.S. House: John McCormack (D-MA), Carl Albert (D-OK), Tip O'Neill (D-MA), Jim Wright (D-TX).

During those same years, a Democrat was Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate from 1962 through 1980: Mike Mansfield (D-MT) and Robert C. Byrd (D-WV).

Howard Baker (R-TN) was Majority Leader beginning in 1981 and was succeeded by Robert Dole (R-KS) for two years.

Democrat Robert Byrd (D-WV) was Majority Leader for the last two years of Mandela's incarceration.

To keep you from having to count on your fingers, here is the list of Presidents:

John F. Kennedy (D)
Lyndon Johnson (D)
Richard Nixon (R)
Gerald Ford (R)
Jimmy Carter (D)
Ronald Reagan (R)

I went through all that because since the death of Nelson Mandela was announced last week there has been a strong odor of blaming Republicans in the United States for the existence of Apartheid in South Africa generally and the plight of Mr. Mandela in particular.

The first legislative attempt to create sanctions against South Africa was the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1972, which went nowhere (Democrats ran the House and Senate, Richard Nixon was President).

The full title was:

An Act To prohibit loans to, other investments in, and certain other activities with respect to, South Africa, and for other purposes

A similar bill, with the same title wasn't reintroduced for 13 years with the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985. That was filibustered by Republicans because the Reagan White House felt it was an untoward intrusion on the President's foreign policy prerogatives. Reagan proposed his own menu of sanctions that he felt would not unduly harm the Black majority in South Africa.

It passed a year later but was vetoed by Reagan for the same reasons. The House and Senate overrode his veto and the President issued a statement which read, in part:

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at