If… White House deputy chief of staff and Nixon loyalist Alexander Butterfield, who had
originally been left off the list of people called before the Senate Select Committee on
Presidential Campaign Activities, one of a handful of people that knew of President Richard
Nixon’s taping system, had not acknowledged its existence before the committee when
asked by Republican investigator Donald Sanders on July 13, 1973, Nixon would not have
had to resigned the presidency in the wake of Watergate.
The urging of Butterfield’s wife for him to be honest if asked and the inexperience of a
young GOP investigator changed history. Without Nixon’s resignation, Woodward and
Bernstein would still be unknown reporters. Got’cha scandal reporting would not have
Americans would not have turned towards the honesty of a little known governor from
Georgia named Jimmy Carter, and our society’s modern cynicism toward the federal
government might not have occurred.
If… Jimmy Carter had not decided to go to court or the Supreme Court had not ruled in
Baker vs. Carr, which established “one man, one vote,” a few weeks before Carter ran for
the Georgia State Senate in 1962, he probably would have lost his court case regarding his
primary loss to bootlegger Homer Moore by a mere 139 votes.
Carter, believing fraud was involved in his defeat, could have accepted the result. Instead
he went to the courts after the local Democratic committee, headed by local political boss
Joe Hurst, adjourned without even listening to him.
As part of efforts to keep African-Americans subservient, it was legal for the dead to vote
in Georgia. The contention was that a person’s family would know their political beliefs (at
least for a handful of years after their death).
A recount committee ruled in Carter’s favor, awarding him the victory by 831 votes.
Anywhere in the process, Carter could have quit or been defeated. If Homer Moore took his
seat in the state senate, Jimmy Carter would have probably remained a local peanut farmer.
He would never have risen up through the Georgia State Senate and become the state’s
governor. He would have never been able to spend a year in Iowa and win the presidency
in 1976. Without Carter, Ronald Reagan would have never become president four years
later. History changed because of a minor judge ruling against popular opinion for a newly
opened senatorial seat.
If… someone in the military had taken into account that the deserts in the Middle East
were older than those in America, Jimmy Carter would have won the election in 1980
against Ronald Reagan.
One of the two things that crippled the Carter administration was his inability to free the
fifty-two American hostages held in Tehran, Iran. On April 24, 1980, after six months of
futile diplomatic efforts, Carter ordered a rescue operation involving eight helicopters.
During the operation, three of the eight helicopters failed resulting in the deaths of eight
American servicemen and injuring five. The mission was canceled at the final staging area
in Iran because no one realized beforehand that the sand in the Middle East was smaller
than that of America because it was older, causing the air filters on the choppers to clog.
In the withdrawal, one of the helicopters collided with a C-130 transport planes, resulting
in the death of the US servicemen. The hostages would remain in Iran for another 270 days.
Had the rescue mission worked, Carter would have defeated Ronald Reagan in 1980.
There would have been no trickle down economics. Carter’s efforts to move towards
alternative energy sources would have taken a firmer foothold. America would be a much
different place, all for the want of proper air filters.
If… Ronald Reagan had not been on the top of his game one day in 1987, America would
have experienced its first 25
Amendment crisis, as his staff was preparing to remove him
from office due to perceived ineptitude and laziness.
While Reagan was not diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease until the 1990s, many,
including his son, believe he was showing signs of memory problems as early as the
beginning of his second term.
When Howard Baker replaced Donald Regan as the White House Chief of Staff, his
transition team was shocked to find Regan’s staff reporting to them that the president was
“lazy,” “inept,” and “inattentive” and believed that Baker should be prepared to invoke the
Amendment and remove the president from office. The first meeting between the new
Baker staff and the elderly president in the Cabinet room was, unknowingly for Reagan, to
observe if “he was indeed losing his mental grip.”
Instead, stimulated by the new people surrounding him, the president performed
splendidly. If Reagan would have had a bad day, he very well have been removed from
office. George H.W. Bush would have been sworn in as the new president.
The entire Reagan legacy would have been colored by his removal. No Saint Reagan. No
conservative movement. All because Ronald Reagan felt peppy one day.
If… former Colorado Congressman Gary Hart had said no photographs when a young
model named Donna Rice was sitting on his lap and handled the scandal better, he could
very well have garnered the Democratic nomination for president and defeated George
Hart, who played on his resemblance to the Kennedy family, was leading the Democratic
primary field in 1987, when he was confronted by rumors that he was having an affair.
Both he and Rice denied any involvement with each other. Two-thirds of Americans
thought the media was unfairly attacking him. Instead of handling the crisis correctly, Hart
withdrew from the race, went into seclusion with his son to a cottage in Ireland, and then
reentered the race a month later.
He never regained momentum. Instead Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis became the
nominee and was trounced by Bush. Four years later, Bill Clinton, who had a much more
troubled sexual history that was brought up during the campaign, won the presidency. A
Hart presidency would have meant no Bush dynasty, no Bill and Monica, no Newt Gingrich.
No impeachment proceedings.
If… a young former Goldman Sachs’ partner named Jack Ryan had not suggested to his
actress wife that they should go to sex clubs in Paris, New York and New Orleans, Barack
Obama would still be a little known state politician from Illinois.
These revelations were contained in the couple’s sealed divorce records, in an effort to
protect their special needs child from what was contained within. Yet, the Chicago Tribune
and a local television station, having been fed information about what the court records
contained, filed with the courts to have them unsealed.
The courts ruled against the Ryans. The scandal created a national media firestorm,
causing Ryan to resign from the race and put Barack Obama in the public eye. Without the
Ryan scandal, Obama would not have been asked to speak at the 2004 Democratic
convention, which gave him a national platform, and he would have lost the senate election
If… Ronald Reagan had kept his role as Rick in Casablanca or been allowed by Warner
Brothers to star in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre instead of being forced to do The Voice
of the Turtle which was being filmed at the same time, he might have moved from a B-list
movie star to the A-lister. His career would not have dried up. He would have never become
the spokesman for General Electric and a star on the conservative speaking circuit, leading
to his becoming governor of California.
If… someone in the approval process realized that the elderly in Palm Beach County,
Florida would have trouble with the approved butterfly ballots in 2002, Al Gore would have
become president. No invading the wrong country. No skyrocketing deficit due to tax cuts
and an exploding security state. The country would have aggressively addressed global
If… a young Lieutenant named George Bush had not been rescued by the submarine, the
U.S.S. Finback and instead ditched his airplane closer to his nine comrades that had been
shot down during the raid on the Japanese held Chichi Jima, he might have been captured
by the Japanese, executed and eaten. No George W. No Jeb. No Bush dynasty.
If… Monica Lewinsky had dry cleaned her dress…
If… Ted Kennedy had not made the wrong turn one night on a little island named
If… It is amazing how history hinges on such little things. The flap of butterfly’s wing, a
little blue dress, or an air filter can change everything. Empires can be brought down and
entire worlds changed, all because of little things that no even noticed at the time.