March 15, 2014
PURITY WING:When the Right Hated Reagan (W James Antle, 3/15/14, National Interest)
Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2014 4:09 PM
It's often forgotten that many conservatives once thought Reagan was too soft on foreign policy while in office. Longtime Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz accused Reagan of "appeasement" for withdrawing from Lebanon and not taking a hard enough line against the imposition of martial law in Poland.
"In his first term," Podhoretz wrote, "Mr. Reagan proved unwilling to take the political risks and expend the political energy that a real break with the underlying assumption of détente would have entailed... overwhelmed by the political present, and perhaps lured by seductive fantasies of what historians in the future might have to say about him as a peacemaker, Mr. Reagan seems ready to embrace the course of détente as wholeheartedly as his own."
As early as 1982, Podhoretz published in the New York Times "The Neo-Conservative Anguish Over Reagan's Foreign Policy." Four years later, he would accuse Reagan of having "shamed himself and the country" with his "craven eagerness" to give away America's nuclear advantage.
But it wasn't just the neoconservatives. The Chicago Tribune described Pat Buchanan, who would soon becoming a leading antiwar paleoconservative, as engaging "in a fight for Reagan's soul" against White House chief of staff Howard Baker on foreign policy, among other issues. In a long Newsweek piece titled "A Conservative Makes A Final Plea," Buchanan urged Reagan to shun arms control agreements as a liberal "object of veneration" and "golden calf," avoiding compromise with the left at home and the Soviets abroad during his final years in office.