Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Did You Really Think Bush Would Not Exploit Reagan’s Death?
If you have been reading my blog for long, you know that I am a Southerner. My father was UAW member, who voted for Democrats locally and became one of the celebrated Reagan Democrats. As a student of history, my views on Reagan’s legacy have changed over the years. However, I still have a deep seeded affection for the “Gipper.” His optimism, his quick-witted sense of humor, wonderful communication skills and deep seat Midwestern pragmatism were traits that I deeply admired. Maybe this is why Bush trying to claim Reagan’s legacy galls me to no end.
I liked Reagan not for his ideology, but because he made me proud to be an American. He didn’t do it in a jingoistic chest thumping way. Internationally, Reagan stood up against a threat (Soviet Union) that we believed it was a military equal. In doing so, he rallied allies to the cause.
And domestically? He was a pragmatist to the core. For all his rhetoric about reducing the size of government, he was too practical to actually do it. He was President in a different time when Democrats had been entrenched in control and perhaps the pendulum needed to swing in the other direction. For the most part, Reagan still managed keep mainstream values in mind. Reagan’s conservatism, regardless of how well it worked, tried to put the middle-class first.
How this could be compared to Bush boggles the mind? Radical is the only way to describe the current administration. Radical ideologues with no attempt at balance, they bow to corporate masters on the domestic side and embrace whacked out theories of global empire in foreign policy. And on their personality, any comparison between Reagan and Bush is dead on arrival. Bush has created an extremely partisan tone in Washington even though after 9-11, he was offered a great opportunity to heal the nation. Does anyone believe Reagan wouldn’t have seized this opportunity to bring the nation together with his optimistic outlook?
Just my thoughts, here are what the papers are saying:
PoliticalWire.com points out the Bush/Cheney campaign is blatantly trying to take advantage of Reagan’s death by linking their campaign site as a tribute to Reagan.
Laura Berman of The Detroit News writes:
“Americans loved and responded to Ronald Reagan because he was an original, an authentic American. He believed in America because he had traversed it, from small-town poverty to Hollywood and the White House. His success story was as astounding as it was hard-won.
You can’t blame George W. Bush for being the beneficiary of a strong political name. You can’t fault him for using the privileges accorded the privileged.
But do not confuse the two of them, either. Reagan invented himself as a man and then as a myth. Bush, the younger, strives mightily to copy the formula.”
The San Francisco Gate writes:
The death of Ronald Reagan, the voice of modern conservatism, has had an immediate impact on the national political stage -- giving new life to George W. Bush's sagging campaign by shifting the focus of the 2004 presidential election.
But former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said Bush runs the risk of appearing diminished by comparison.
"He will do his best to try and associate himself with Reagan -- but it won't fly," the Democrat said. "It would be as if you're comparing a squirrel to an elephant.''
The Boston Globe writes:
Bush has long sought to portray himself as Reagan's ideological heir, and with Reagan's death, he has augmented those efforts.
When Bush was asked about Reagan yesterday, he responded in terms largely reflecting his own reelection theme. "Ronald Reagan will go down in history as a great American president because he had a core set of principles from which he would not deviate," Bush said from the G-8 summit in Georgia, during a joint appearance with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan. "He understood that a leader is a person who sets clear goals and makes decisions based upon principles that are etched in his soul."
The St. Paul Pioneer Press writes:
Aides to Bush and Kerry said they did not want to do anything to make it appear they were exploiting Reagan's death. But in one sign of what may lie ahead, Republicans circulated old quotes from Kerry in which he criticized Reagan. Democrats promptly dug up their own old quotes, in which George H.W. Bush spoke unkindly about Reagan in 1980, as the two competed for the GOP nomination.
And an article from the Buffalo News:
"Reagan talked about cutting the size of government but really didn't do it. Government continued to grow during the Reagan years and that's the pattern of the Bush administration," said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.
Paul Krugman writes:
But Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush.
Whatever George Jr...
Updated: The Who Pundit draws the contrast with the outrage expressed in the media after Wellstone's death at the Democrat's politization of his life and the silence in the media now.