"The Reagan-Kemp-Roth tax cut that the Governor is proposing is so inflationary that most independent economists that have studied it have concluded that it will result in 30 percent inflation.."
-President Jimmy Carter, during the 1980 Presidential Debate
The left has never gotten Ronald Reagan.
All through the 1980 campaign, President Cardigan tried his darnedest to present Reagan as a senile twit, clearly out of his league, and completely without the vast experience needed to be president. Being Governor of Georgia for two years, and a state legislator for four, along with being a peanut farmer, vastly qualified someone for the presidency in the late 1970's; but, being Governor of California for eight years, president of the largest labor union in the entertainments for eleven, and a self-made millionaire during Hollywood's golden age didn't . Carter's argument seemed to be "stick with me. I'm a disaster, but, hey, at least I'm experienced at it".
The Left, of course, helped sluice the notion through the popular culture. Gerald Ford, George Romney, Howard Baker and a host of Thurston Howell Republicans joined the eye-rollers on the far left declaring Reagan a bad joke.
But, to those on the Left, Reagan was even worse than that. Mr. Reagan had been, at various times, a dunce, a lazy B-movie matinee idol (-30 years past his prime), a dangerous warmonger, a vicious racist, a disconnected millionaire, a simpleton, a dotard, a stooge of his wife, and a primitive Christian with his finger on the button, drooling for the first chance to usher in the Apocalypse, and so on...
To this day, they STILL think that Reagan is a dunce, a lazy B-movie matinee idol (-30 years past his prime), a dangerous warmonger, a vicious racist... but, an optimistic, sunny one . His optimism, to them, was a matter of slick marketing--, or "messaging", to use a more hip, 21st-Century term. Reagan "made" people "feel good".
Precisely HOW he did this remains beyond the skills of the left to divine, but they think it had something to do with waving the flag around and talking about what a great government we had.
Something like that.
Of course, back when Ronald Reagan was actually in charge of it, the Left thought the Government was manifestly un-great : We were getting involved in "another Vietnam" in Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua (a bloody thug whom Reagan called "a dictator in designer sunglasses"), we were taunting the mighty Soviet Union to the point where they stopped talking to us (Reagan knew they'd eventually call us back, collect), visiting evil Nazi graves at Bitburg, West Germany (he wouldn't cancel carefully negotiated plans, and punish those Germans, forty years after the war, who had nothing to do with it), and finally taking poor people's money and giving it to his rich friends, like Frank Sinatra and Walter Annenberg.
The Left spent the better part of the twenty years prior to his presidency lampooning Reagan, parodying him, laughing at him. He was the butt of jokes amongst the Glitterati. Kurt Vonnegut, the official lexicographer of the East Coast Snobbararium, had a stump-toothed character in his 1977 novel "Breakfast of Champions " drive around in a car with a "Reagan for President!" bumper sticker, to prove the characters' idiotic bonafides. Saying "Ronald Reagan" in 1977 was shorthand for saying "nincompoop". No, to the left, Ronald Reagan has always been, at best, an amiable dunce.
At worst, to them, Reagan was the personification of all that was wrong and evil about America. He hated homosexuals, so he planted AIDS in them; He hated blacks, so he got them hooked on crack cocaine. He hated the environment, so he hired James Watt to go around dumping barrels of dioxin in the rivers. For a guy that was notoriously lazy, Reagan sure was busy.
So, it comes as quite a shock in 2011 that the left is creating a Reagan avatar for the biggest, most extreme leftist-jihadi to ever occupy the White House: the hapless Barack Obama.
In every sense -- aesthetic, political, logical, philosophical -- Barack Obama is the compass-opposite of Ronald Wilson Reagan: Reagan WAS sunny, in outlook and disposition; Barack Obama is a thin-skinned scold. Ronald Reagan had a well-lived, extremely varied, multi-textured life long before he arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Conversely, Barack Obama has spent his entire adult life pursuing the address.
Ronald Reagan grew up in the brutal, cold, poor, mid-west of the Depression. On the other hand, Barack Obama was the consummate hedonist in the tropics. Reagan's mother was a creative, pious, Christian woman. Obama's mother was a malcontent atheist.
Ronald Reagan loved America, and Americans. Barack Obama loathes America, and fundamentally distrusts Americans. Ronald Reagan warned PATCO, despite their official endorsement of his candidacy, that they would be fired if they broke federal law by going on strike. He fired them. Barack Obama invites Andy Stearn from the Service Employee Internationl Union over to the White House every night for burgers. Ronald Reagan called it "Socialized Medicine". Barack Obama calls it "Affordable Care".
Ronald Reagan told Mikhail Gorbachev,"Tear Down this Wall!". Barack Obama told Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to "Tear Down this Wall!". Ronald Reagan rippws tens of thousands of pages from the Federal Register. Barack Obama has added volumes.
Let's face it: The Left has a weird Reagan fetish, here in the glow of the afteryears of Reagan. Reagan so discombobulated them that they still wander around, 30 years on, shaking their heads, punch-drunk. Reagan said lowering taxes would end inflation, and re-ignite the economy. It did . Reagan said modernizing our military and arming up the nation would end the cold war. It did . Reagan said that getting government off the backs of the American people would give them a restored sense of strength and courage to accomplish great things. It did . All the things Reagan said would happen DID happen, and the Left is at once in both hateful fear and bemused wonderment at Reagan for it. Reagan put the lie to every quack nostrum the Left holds. He put the final nails in the statist coffin.
And yet, like Bella Lugosi, the nails keep popping out, and the authoritarian statist zombie keeps raising from the dead, and the American people innately sense this. So, they put a Reagan mask on that zombie, and hope no one will notice.
Well, I notice. I remember well the 1970's. My father was (among other things) an Interstate highway sign contractor, and by the late 1970's most of the remaining federal contracts were tied up in civil environmental litigation. The Carter Transportation Department joined in many of these lawsuits against itself. The highway contracting business was disappearing. So were many American businesses.
Each small town had a CETA office, where the unemployed would gather, like scenes from a Soviet breadline. The unemployed had to be retrained, somehow, to do something; but Carter had no clue as to what that "something" would be. Building solar panels? Remeasuring the meridians in meters? Carter had some odd fascination with the metric system, so he attempted to shove that down the throats of Americans, on the thinnest fiction that America was so hopelessly behind the rest of the world anyway that, in order to compete, we had to conform to all things European.
Inflation, at over 12%, was rampant. A gallon of milk at the grocery store one week might cost $1.29, and $1.59 the next. Gasoline was so scarce that, in addition to long lines at the pump, President Woebegon actually had a rationing regimen winding through congress at the same time he was sermonizing on the evils of "windfall oil profits".
The presidential election in November of 1980 had been narrated then by the leftist media as a nail-biter, one which, in all probability, would end at 4:30 in the morning, with Carter -- naturally-- emerging as the victor. Actually, it was all over by 8:10 PM, with Carter phoning Reagan and conceding before the polls had even closed west of the Rocky Mountains. Once again, the wisdom of the American people had been vastly underestimated, and they knew that, in Carter, they sniffed a totalitarian gas-bag in a plaid Pendleton shirt that made him look like John Walton. He was a phony.
THIS is the real Barack Obama masquerade, and it is also why I manifestly do not fear the man's reelection. Obama, the man once presented to us a genteel, moderate, post-racial, thoughtful, introspective, intelligent leader is a fraud, and the people know it. Like President Carter, Obama is a phony. Peel off his Reagan mask, and you'll only find another one underneath:
Jimmy Carter. Only that one's glued on.
The left clings to Reagan's "sunny optimism" as some sort of enviable mental deficiency that plagued Ronald Reagan, and that this sunny optimism mislead the American people into a land of narcissistic greed, and if they could only appropriate and divert that sunniness onto their candidates, the gullible American will fall for it all over again. But, they willfully miss what was optimistic about Ronald Reagan: He unhesitatingly loved America, and the freeborn citizens that peopled her --because he'd met so many of them throughout his career--, and knew (absolutely knew) that if her people were unleashed, there was nothing they couldn't do.
This included fixing everything that had been broken by all the Carters throughout the American journey that had been foisted upon them. THIS is the taproot of national optimism. And you can't just stir that up, especially out of the poisoned well of anti-American loathing that the Left embraces.
And a Carter can never be a Reagan.
Sorry, Barack. As an American that Loves America, I can say this: I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine. You, Senator Obama, are no Ronald Reagan.