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#226: The Presidential Election of 1988

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 Republican presidential candidate, Vice President George Bush, right, and his running mate Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, at the Republican National Convention in 1988
Republican presidential candidate, Vice President George Bush, right, and his running mate Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, at the Republican National Convention in 1988

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

This week in our series, we look at the presidential election of nineteen eighty-eight.

(MUSIC)

Ronald Reagan was finishing his second term. He was America's fortieth president and one of the most popular. During his eight years in office, many Americans did well financially. Many felt more secure about the future of the nation and the world. The possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union did not seem as great a threat as it had in the past.

The Constitution limits presidents to two terms. So, in nineteen eighty-eight, the country prepared to elect a new chief executive.

There were three main candidates for the Republican Party nomination. They were George Herbert Walker Bush, Bob Dole and Pat Robertson. Bush had just served eight years as Reagan's vice president. Dole was the top Republican in the Senate. Robertson was a conservative Christian who had his own television program.

Ronald Reagan's popularity helped George Bush gain the Republican nomination. Neither Dole nor Robertson won enough votes in the primary election season to be a threat. Bush was nominated on the first vote at the party convention. The delegates accepted his choice for vice president, Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana.

Eight candidates competed for the nomination of the Democratic Party. One of the candidates was Jesse Jackson, a black minister and political activist. He won about twenty-five percent of the delegates. He had also sought the nomination four years earlier.

The Democrats chose Michael Dukakis, the governor of Massachusetts. His running mate was Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.

Vice President George H.W. Bush, left, and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis at their final debate in the presidential campaign of nineteen eighty-eight
Vice President George H.W. Bush, left, and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis at their final debate in the presidential campaign of nineteen eighty-eight
In public opinion surveys Dukakis looked like a strong candidate after the party conventions. But then he began to lose popularity. Many observers said he had waited too long to launch a nationwide campaign.

The candidates heavily attacked each other through campaign advertising on television.

Dukakis also came under attack from the Bush campaign, targeting his record as a governor. Campaign ads said Dukakis had not been tough enough with criminals.

ANNOUNCER: "Bush and Dukakis on Crime. Bush supports the death penalty for first degree murderers. Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty - he allowed first degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. One was Willy Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him nineteen times. Despite a life sentence, Horton received ten weekend passes from prison. Horton fled, kidnapped a young couple, stabbing the man and repeatedly raping his girlfriend. Weekend prison passes - Dukakis on crime."

Ads by the Bush campaign also said Dukakis would weaken America's military power. And they accused him of not protecting the environment by seeking a permit to dump sewage from Massachusetts off the coast of New Jersey.

ANNOUNCER: "The Environmental Protection Agency called Boston Harbor one of the dirtiest harbors in America. But not long ago, Governor Dukakis proposed a way to help clean it up - by dumping Massachusetts sewage sludge off the New Jersey shore, just one hundred and six miles from New York. Now, Michael Dukakis says he wants to do for America, what he's done for Massachusetts. New Jersey can't afford to take that risk."

DUKAKIS: "I'm fed up with it -- never seen anything like it in twenty-five years of public life."

Dukakis fought back.

DUKAKIS: "George Bush's negative TV ads distorting my record -- full of lies, and he knows it."

Dukakis accused Bush of not telling the truth about his part in the secret sales of arms to Iran to finance contra rebels in Nicaragua. He also criticized Bush for being part of an administration that reduced social programs.

DUKAKIS: "I must have been living through a different eight years from the ones the vice president's been living through, because this administration has cut and slashed, and cut and slashed programs for children, for nutrition, for the kinds of things that can help these youngsters to live better lives.

"It's cut federal aid to education, has cut Pell Grants and loans, to close the door to college opportunity on youngsters all over this country. And that, too, is a major difference between the vice president and me."

(MUSIC)

In the end, Bush's campaign succeeded in making Dukakis look weak on crime and defense. Dukakis did not help himself with a commercial in which he was looking out of a moving tank while wearing a large helmet. Many people made fun of the ad.

On Election Day in November, Bush defeated Dukakis by almost seven million votes.

George Bush was sworn into office on January twentieth, nineteen eighty-nine.

GEORGE BUSH: "No president, no government can teach us to remember what is best in what we are. But if the man you have chosen to lead this government can help make a difference, if he can celebrate the quieter, deeper successes that are made -- not of gold and silk, but of better hearts and finer souls -- if he can do these things, then he must. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world. My friends, we have work to do."

(MUSIC)

George Bush was the son of a United States senator and had led a life of public service. He joined the Navy when America entered World War Two. He flew attack planes. He was just eighteen years old -- at that time, the youngest pilot the Navy ever had. He flew many bombing raids against the Japanese in the Pacific. He was shot down once and rescued by an American submarine.

George Bush came home from the war as a hero. He became a university student and got married. He and his wife, Barbara, then moved to Texas where he worked in the oil business. He ran for the United States Senate in nineteen sixty-four, and lost. Two years later, he was elected to the House of Representatives.

He ran for the Senate again in nineteen seventy, and lost again. But by that time, he had gained wider recognition. Over the next eight years, he was appointed to a series of government positions. He was ambassador to the United Nations. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee. He was America's representative in China before the two countries had diplomatic relations. And he was head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In nineteen eighty, Bush ran against Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination for president. Bush lost but became Reagan's running mate.

After two terms as vice president, he felt ready to lead the nation himself.

The new president took seven foreign trips during his first year in office. In Europe, Bush met with the other leaders of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He proposed a major agreement on reducing troops and non-nuclear weapons in Europe. The Soviet Union considered his proposal an important step in the right direction.

(MUSIC)

In June of nineteen eighty-nine, the Chinese government sent tanks and troops to crush pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of demonstrators were killed. President Bush took some steps against China, but many critics felt the sanctions were not strong enough.

In central and eastern Europe, communist governments also faced protests. Since nineteen eighty-seven, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had let countries in the Warsaw Pact experiment with political and economic reforms.

But those reforms were not enough to stop the fall of communist governments in one country after another.

In the summer of nineteen eighty-nine, President Bush visited Hungary and Poland. Both nations were trying to develop free-market economies. Both were suffering as they moved away from central control.

(AUDIO: Polish Solidarity Union demonstrators singing)

In Poland the leader of the Solidary trade union, Lech Walesa, led the push for reform.

(AUDIO: Walesa addressing rally in Polish)

He would later become president of a democratic Poland.

[MONTAGE: BERLIN WALL]

(AUDIO: West German "Tagesschau" television evening news program anchor announcing opening of Berlin Wall; car horns; crowds at wall)

November of nineteen eighty-nine brought a dramatic expression of the changes taking place in eastern Europe.

On November ninth, East Germany opened the wall that had divided it from the West since nineteen sixty-one.

ANNOUNCER (over ABC New Theme): "From ABC, this is World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, reporting tonight from Berlin."

PETER JENNINGS: "From the Berlin Wall specifically. Take a look at them. They've been there since last night. They are here in the thousands; they are here in the tens of thousands. Occasionally they shout 'Die Mauer muss weg!' - the Wall must go!

"Thousands and thousands of West Germans come to make the point that the wall has suddenly become irrelevant. Something, as you can see, almost to party on. How do you measure such an astonishing moment in history?

"The East German government said tonight they were going to make more openings in the wall, at least a dozen more, put bulldozers right through the wall, so that more people could cross to the West. The East German communist leadership tonight said there'd be a new election law guaranteeing secret elections which the rest of the world could monitor.

"And only twenty-four hours after East Germans were told they could go anywhere, anytime, the Soviet Union said - That was a sensible move!"

Within days, citizens and soldiers began tearing the wall down as the world watched with hope for a new era of peace.

SONG: "Freiheit" (Freedom)

JENNINGS: "What's it feel like to be standing on top of the Wall?"

YOUNG GERMAN MAN [#1]: "Incredible. For me, it's...I can't describe really my feelings. It's something unreal for me."

YOUNG GERMAN MAN [#2]: "If there is someone who sleeps for eight weeks, and you told him what happened here, he thinks you are crazy. It's unthinkable [hard to imagine]."

SONG: "Freiheit"

(MUSIC)

The fall of the Berlin Wall pointed to the end of the Soviet Union, the end of Communist rule in most of the countries in the former Soviet Bloc - and the end of more than 40 years of the Cold War between the East and West. The presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush will be remembered as the time during which these world changing events took place, as well as the beginning of the Persian Gulf War with Iraq, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. We'll look at those and other events in the Bush presidency, both at home and abroad, next week.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.unsv.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

___

Contributing: Jerilyn Watson

This was program #226. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

罗纳德.里根是美国第40任总统,也是美国历史上最受欢迎的总统之一。里根八年任期里,很多美国人日子过得挺好,对国家和世界的未来比过去更放心,美苏爆发核战争的威胁也不像原先那么大了。

根据美国宪法,总统最多只能连任两届。因此,1988年,美国人民需要选择一位新的领导人。

参加共和党总统提名角逐的主要有三个人选。他们分别是乔治.布什;鲍勃.多尔和帕特.罗伯逊。里根任期内,布什当了八年的副总统,多尔是参议院最重要的共和党议员,罗伯逊是著名保守派基督徒,是电视节目主持人。

里根总统的威望,帮助布什赢得了共和党总统候选人的提名。多尔和罗伯逊在初选中都没能对布什构成威胁。共和党提名大会第一轮投票,布什就当选胜出了。

与此同时,角逐民主党党内提名的一共有八个人选,其中包括四年前参加过提名角逐的黑人牧师和政治活动家杰西.杰克逊,他在提名大会上赢得了大约百分之25与会代表的支持。

最后,民主党人选择了麻萨诸塞州州长迈克尔.达卡克斯,他的副总统竞选搭档是德克萨斯州参议员劳埃德.本特森。

提名大会后的民意调查显示,达卡克斯很受欢迎,但是没过多久,他的支持度就开始下滑。很多观察家认为,达卡克斯的问题出在,他在全国范围内开展的竞选活动起步太晚了。

竞选期间,参选人通过电视竞选广告,大肆攻击对方。达卡克斯也受到了来自布什阵营的攻击。布什的竞选班子把达卡克斯担任州长期间的业绩做为攻击目标,竞选广告里说,达卡克斯对犯罪分子过于心慈手软。

广告里说:"在犯罪问题上,布什和达卡克斯不一样。布什支持对一级谋杀犯处以死刑。达卡克斯不仅反对将一级谋杀犯处死,而且还让他们享受周末出狱的待遇,其中包括在一次抢劫中在一个男孩身上连捅19刀将其致死的威利.霍顿。霍顿被判终身监禁,但却先后十次获准,周末出狱度假,结果逃跑,绑架了一对情侣,捅死了男的,并多次强奸其女友。监狱周末度假券--这就是达卡克斯对犯罪的态度。"

布什竞选班子制作的竞选广告还说,达卡克斯会削弱美国的军事力量,并指责他不积极环保,因为他曾申请许可,将麻萨诸塞州的下水道废物扔到新泽西州的岸边。

广告词里说:"环境保护署称波士顿港口为美国最肮脏的港口之一。但是就在不久前,达卡克斯州长还提议,将麻萨诸塞州的下水道废物丢到距离纽约只有106英里的新泽西海岸去。迈克尔.达卡克斯说,他要把麻萨诸塞州的经验用在美国身上,新泽西可担不起这份风险"。

达卡克斯也不甘示弱。他说,"我简直受够了,从政25年,我从来没见过这种事儿。"他说:"乔治.布什的负面电视广告扭曲了我的记录,其中充满谎言,他自己心里清楚得很。"

达卡克斯指责布什隐瞒了自己在向伊朗秘密出售武器,用收入款项支持尼加拉瓜反对派一事中所起的作用。他还对布什担任副总统期间,政府减少社会保障项目的做法提出批评。

达卡克斯说:"副总统跟我在过去八年的经历完全不同。他领导下的美国政府大幅度削减涉及让儿童营养充分、过更好生活的各种保障儿童的项目。他领导下的美国政府削减了对教育的联邦资助款,削减了贝尔奖学金和学生贷款,让很多年轻人上不了大学。这也是我跟副总统的重大区别。"

最后还是布什的竞选班子占了上风,他们让达卡克斯在打击犯罪和国防上显得软弱无力。达卡克斯自己也做了个适得其反的广告。在广告中,他头戴一个大头盔,站在一架正在行驶的坦克里向外看,很多人都觉得他在广告里的样子很可笑。

总统大选中,布什以将近七百万张选票的优势击败了达卡克斯。1989年1月20日,布什宣誓就职。布什说: "没有哪位总统,没有哪个政府能教导我们记得,人性才是最重要的。但是,如果你们选择领导政府的那个人能带来变化,如果他能更注重由善良的心灵和美好的灵魂,而不是由黄金和绸缎,所带来的那种无声无息,更深层的成功,如果他能做到这些的话,那他一定要这样做。作为一个民族,今天的我们充满了使命感,那就是让我们的国家和世界更美好。朋友们,我们有很多工作要做。"

乔治.布什的父亲是美国联邦参议员,他一辈子都在政界打拼。布什18岁加入海军,在二战期间驾驶歼击机,是当时美国海军历史上最年轻的飞行员。布什多次在太平洋执行对日本的轰炸任务,他驾驶的歼击机有一次被日军击落,结果被美军潜艇救起。

布什以战斗英雄的身份荣归故里,上大学,结婚,他和妻子芭芭拉后来搬到德克萨斯州,靠油田赚钱。1964年,布什参选美国联邦参议员,结果落选,两年过后,他当选了联邦众议员。1970年,布什再次参选参议员,结果又一次落选,但通过竞选极大地增加了知名度。在接下来的八年时间里,布什担任过不少政界要职,包括美国常驻联合国大使,美国共和党全国委员会主席,美中两国正式建交前,布什曾任驻华代表,还曾担任美国中央情报局局长。

布什曾在参加共和党总统候选人提名的角逐中,输给了里根,但是却成了里根的竞选搭档,跟里根一起当选连任,八年过后,布什觉得自己已经做好了当总统的准备。任期第一年,布什七次出国访问。他在欧洲会见了北约成员国领导人,提出了减少欧洲兵力和非核武器的重要提议,苏联觉得布什的提议是向正确方向迈出的一步。

1989年6月,北京发生六四事件,中国政府出动坦克和部队镇压民主抗议示威者,造成成百上千人死亡。布什总统对中国采取制裁行动,但是很多批评人士认为,制裁措施不够强硬。在东欧和中欧,共产党政权纷纷面临抗议示威。1987年以来,苏联领导人戈尔巴乔夫允许华沙公约成员国进行政治和经济改革的大胆尝试,但是这些改革也没能改变这些国家共产党政权下台的命运。

1989年夏天,布什总统访问了匈牙利和波兰,这两个国家都在努力发展自由市场经济,在脱离中央集权控制的过程中,举步维艰。波兰团结工会主席莱赫.瓦文萨是改革的领导人,后来成了民主制度下的波兰总统。

1989年11月9号,从1961年开始将柏林一分为二的柏林墙被打开了。美国广播公司ABC的著名新闻主播彼得.詹宁斯从柏林发来报导说:"这里是柏林墙,看看这些人,他们从昨天晚上开始就一直在这里,成千上万人,他们高呼口号‘柏林墙一定要推倒。'数以千计的西德人,通过这种方式表明,柏林墙忽然间无关紧要了,大家能看到,这好像是件值得庆祝的事情,这种历史性时刻的重要性实在是难以衡量。东德政府今天晚上说,他们准备在柏林墙上再开几个门,至少增加12个,让更多的人能到西边去。东德共产党领导人今天晚上说,他们将出台一部新的选举法,保证秘密选举接受全世界的监督。东德人得知自己可以想去哪去哪,想什么时候就什么时候去,短短24小时后,苏联就表态说,这种做法很合理。"

几天内,民众和士兵就开始拆除柏林墙了,全世界都在关注,希望这是一个新的和平时代的开始。柏林墙的倒塌意味着苏联,前苏联影响下大多数东欧国家共产政权的结束,也意味着40多年东西方冷战的结束。这些重大国际事件发生的时候,正赶上布什总统任期,他的任期内,还有伊拉克入侵科威特后发生的海湾战争。

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