September 22, 2004


THE SON OF REAGAN (Nina Burleigh, 9/22/04, AlterNet)

Luckily for Bush, an emergency team of former Reagan aides has swooped in during these last months of the re-election campaign to help recreate the triumph of 1984 – which explains all the babbling about optimism. Collectively, they are a "Morning in America" pill, a dose of cheerful unreality in what they hope is the nick of time.

Noonan has taken a leave of absence from The Wall Street Journal to work with the Republican National Committee (RNC) to help with the 2004 campaign. Michael Deaver, a former Reagan deputy chief of staff, is taking a more active role with the campaign, and even organized a recent visit between Bush and Nancy Reagan. Campaign aides reportedly now meet regularly with Ken Duberstein, who served as Reagan's chief of staff and former senior Reagan adviser Charlie Black. Former Reagan Press Secretary Lyn Nofziger is also reportedly working on the campaign, although he has publicly denied it.

The conservative pundits are also right on the message.

Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan has even drawn parallels between Kerry's criticism of Bush and his earlier criticisms of Reagan. Senator John Kerry, he wrote:

"[N]ow on the campaign trail accusing the president of irresponsibility, was similarly scornful of President Reagan's moves to resist Soviet and Cuban efforts to grab Central America. He called the president's well- founded fears of an invasion of Honduras by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas 'ridiculous.' …

In harking back to those years, it seems clear that Ronald Reagan was no more free of political adversaries than George W. Bush today. The idea that he got along better than Mr. Bush with Europe doesn't hold up to close scrutiny either.

Having lived through 1984, though, we don't need pundits to scrutinize the real similarities between Bush and Reagan. We are going into November 2004 with tax cuts and unlimited war spending sucking the life out of the economy now and for generations to come. Meanwhile, Son of Reagan takes a break from splitting logs, wipes the sweat from his brow, grins at the gasping, barely-making-it citizenry, and asks us to buck up and take it on the chin for the sake of "Freedom."

The truth, however, is that George Bush is far, far worse than Reagan.

Thing of it is, just because you're late to figuring something out doesn't mean it's happened suddenly. That famed Reagan operative, Bill Keller (now Editor-in-chief of the NY Times), wrote the first intelligent mainstream essay about George W. Bush being Reagan's Son (it's even the title of the piece) almost two years ago. And Jonathan Rauch, who's gay and would hardly be classified as a Reagan or Bush conservative, wrote the first big think piece about Bush as a radical for the Atlantic over a year ago. One interesting thing to note is that a myth has grown up, largely because it serves the purposes of both liberals and neocons, that 9-11 either saved or altered the Bush presidency. In reality, while it has obviously made the President's foreign policy more forceful, the revolution in domestic policy was already well under way--with a number of wins in the bank: tax cuts, NCLB, the Faith Based Initiative, etc.--and various proposals hastening to victory: Fast Track Trade Authority, Health Savings Accounts, etc.--by the time of the attacks. The War on Terror has been more of a hindrance than a help to the radical agenda he launched on day one of his Administration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2004 9:42 AM

"... with tax cuts and unlimited war spending sucking the life out of the economy now and for generations to come."

Where does one start in explaining the multiple absurdities plaguing this sentence alone?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 22, 2004 12:03 PM

Well, 9/11 did save Bush's presidency in that he probably wouldn't be re-elected without it. Neither he nor Al Gore would have been able to (electorally) overcome the impact of the end-of-the-bubble recession that was going to whack whomever took office in 2001. 9/11 introduced another, more significant, criterion than the economy by which to judge the president.

Posted by: Brandon at September 22, 2004 1:24 PM


He'd be coasting because the most divisive issue in our politics wouldn't be there and the economy would still be humming--doing even better without the current uncertainty. If he were to lose it would be because of 9-11.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2004 1:32 PM

Has anyone noticed how the left regularly revises their opinion of Republican presidents? Eisenhower, Nixon, and now Reagan were unmercifully hated and savaged in their day, and then another Republican comes along, and suddenly there's some strange sort of semi-nostalgia for an earlier one, who now looks not so bad.

Nobody seems to say anything nice about Gerald Ford, though.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 22, 2004 5:03 PM

I've never noticed anyone saying anything at all about Gerald Ford.

Posted by: bbb at September 22, 2004 5:36 PM

"The War on Terror has been more of a hindrance than a help to the radical agenda he launched on day one of his Administration."

Yes, but the war has brought to the spotlight the truth about the Democrats, and will be the single-most issue that crushes them.

Posted by: ray at September 22, 2004 8:24 PM

These days Gerald Ford is remembered for three things: falling off airplanes, pardoning Nixon, and calling Communist Poland a free state. With that kind of resume, you won't have nice things said about you.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at September 23, 2004 2:21 AM