Skip to comments.Please, Romney is nothing like Reagan!
Posted on 03/08/2012 6:24:52 AM PST by Brices Crossroads
Wall Street Journal editor William McGurn, a former Bush White House speechwriter, argued in an article Tuesday that Mitt Romney is no worse off now than Ronald Reagan was at this stage of his historic 1980 campaign. He compared these two races and also tried to show that President Barack Obama is the heir to Jimmy Carter.
The Romney camp would probably welcome these comparisons but its more a theory in search of facts. There are indeed some similarities, but the differences are far more striking.
Both Reagan and Romney did begin as frontrunners, both stumbled. Romneys outcome is still unknown. But other than the fact that Carter was a tougher politician than Obama, that is where the similarities end.
Reagan was fervently opposed by corporate America, Wall Street and, yes, The Wall Street Journal, in the lead up to the 1980 campaign. As much as Romney is fervently supported by them now. In 1980, Corporate America preferred former Texas Gov. John Connolly and Amb. George H. W. Bush to Reagan, the maverick populist.
Indeed, when Reagan announced his candidacy in late 1979, the Journal asserted for political packaging, we do not need to turn to a 69-year-old man.
The words populist and Romney dont often collide in the same sentence.
The issues in 1980 were far more consequential than today, just as the differences between Carter and Reagan were greater and more divisive than the differences today. Romney and Obama, as well as Carter, have a far greater belief than Reagan in the states power, goodness and redistributive powers. Even after he was head of the federal government for eight years in Washington, no one ever thought Reagan was part of the establishment the manor to which Romney was born.
From a cultural standpoint as well, Romney and Reagan stand poles apart. One born rich, a son of the Ivy League, the other born in poverty, a son of the Prairie League.
The issue of Soviet communism loomed over the 1980 debate, though the struggling economy and rampant inflation ranked as most important to the American people. The world is a far less dangerous place today than 31 years ago, and the economy is in far better shape.
Reagan understood acutely the connection between the spiritual America, the economic America and the defense of America. The vitality of the people has to be restored so they could again believe in the future and so begin rebuilding Americas defenses and resolve. With this muscular foreign policy, Washington could face down Moscow.
Today, we worry about the potential for one Iranian nuclear device. In 1980, Reagan had to worry about 10,000 Soviet nuclear devices.
Romney is championing the federal marriage amendment one of the most anti-conservative, harebrained notions ever cooked up by the borderline geniuses of the GOP. We dont know how Reagan would have reacted to this proposal. But we do know he believed deeply in the dignity and the privacy of the individual.
Consider, in 1978, Reagan opposed Proposition 6 in California, which would have banned homosexuals from teaching in the state public schools. Voters turned it down and its defeat was credited to Reagans opposition.
Reagans 1980 campaign produced few negative ads. Even when he was under assault in the primaries, most Reagan ads featured the Gipper talking into a camera about the benefit of his radical tax cuts for individuals. The tagline: We have to move forward but we cant leave anyone behind.
The ads producers, Jeff Bell and Elliot Curzon, dubbed the commercial, The Good Shepherd.
Unlike Romney, Reagan had 30 years invested in the conservative movement and was beloved by most of the GOP base. Romney has no such wellspring of support. Even those conservatives who support him do so guardedly, defensively.
Romney seems largely a product if his consultants and handlers doing and saying what they tell him. Reagan, however, had men around him who saw their job as amplifying his message, not submitting it to focus groups.
There is also a difference in the fundamental character of the two. Though I have never met Romney, Ive worked with politicians going on 40 years now, and he seems like a man who is very unsure of himself.
But Reagan, whom I worked for and with, appeared to me and millions of others like a sunny man who was very sure of himself. So confident was he and other successful aspirants, they spent their time talking about and to the voters and not about themselves.
Perhaps most revealing, as the campaign has progressed, Romney has not grown as is often the case but is looking more opaque and ill defined. John F. Kennedy, Reagan and Obama all enlarged as men in their quests for the presidency. As they moved closer to the Oval Office, the more people thought about them, the more people thought of them.
THIS was a great man.
“Nothing Like”?! How about exactly opposite?! Or world’s apart?! Or good vs evil?!
It’s interesting, isn’t it? Two candidates, and their supporters, keep trying to compare their guy TO Reagan. A third simply says he worked WITH Reagan.
Now, some holes can be punched into all three stories, but it is telling the difference. And while we’re at it - Rush’s comparisons with Santorum to Reagan on social policies? Really? Now I’m not as old as Rush, but I remember Reagan Carter pretty well. I don’t remember much of anything about the social issues being an issue, even though we knew where Reagan stood.
Lost me by lumping Reagan with Obama at the end.
No question Reagan and Romney are very different. Likewise Carter and Obama.
I lived through Carter and there was a sense he was an embarrassment. I think people fear and dislike Obama much more.
Reagan started out with the conservative base and had to convince moderates he wasn’t a threatening right winger.
Romney starts with moderate respect and has to energize the conservatives.
I think the American people cannot wait to vote Obama out of office.
I am excited about none of the candidates but will gladly vote for “other” when facing Obama.
I know many Freepers have passionate feelings about their guy, but ANYONE who thinks that our worst choice will be as bad for the country as Obama is simply a fool, ESPECIALLY in light of the recent comments made by Leon Panetta.
The Left wants to destroy our country and if Obama wins, he will stack the court with radicals the likes of which our nation has never seen.
After the primaries, we MUST come together and support the guy not named Obama.
Reagan’s positions on the issues throughout his political life were clear and unambiguous.
Romney, not so much.
He’s a populist through and through. How many other politicians know that Michigan trees are all the right height?
I met Reagan never met Romney but he is still no Reagan !!!!!!!
Given the homosexual push by the judiciary, I’m not sure Reagan would not support the marriage ammenment. He certainly had no qualms about an outright ban on them in the military: “We ask, DON’T join” worked quite well. Aside from that, this was an excellent article.
I think the American people cannot wait to vote Obama out of office.”
Oh, man, do I ever hope you are right!!!!! It looks likely that we will have to do so with Romney....not that I like him, but we have to oust obama! (I fear, however, that Romney can’t do it...he is that weak).
Romney has no shot....zip...zilch...nada.
Well, they both have nice hair.
Rush and I are about the same age. I share your recollection that social issues played no important role in the 1980 election. Reagan's campaign was primarily about two things: (1) challenging the Soviet Union by restoring US military strength; (2) restoring economic prosperity by lowering marginal tax rates and reducing the growth of the federal government.
Glad you shared that, and glad to know we remember the same campaign the same way. It is stunning to me, STUNNING, to see Rush make this false comparison. Correcting such falsehoods is what he has done for 23 years. This is tremendous slippage in my opinion, and with potentially dire consequences.
Yeah! What the hell is the reference to the height of trees? I know he said it but what do it mean?
Romney’s not weak. Romney, I think, is an SOB. his conservative support is weak.
I think he’s trying to create nostalgia, where life was just perfect in Middle America in the 1950’s, where everybody lives in the suburbs with tree-lined streets.
Agreed, I heard Reagan speak as president. He was absolutely golden and magical. No one compares.
I think Rush may be using again
So, the man, Romney, who has done the following:
1. Supported Gay Adoption
2. Supported Gay Marriage
3. Wholeheartedly supported Abortion.
4. Proclaimed he was not a Reagan Conservative.
5. Supports Global Warming
6. Implemented a form of Socialized Medicine with RomneyCare with it’s Individual Mandate
7. Doesn’t like nore understand the concept of limited Government.
8. Is a continual and serial liar.
This total creep is like Reagan?
TO arrive at that conclusion the writers of this drivel would have to throw out everything he did as Governor and 95% of everything else.
You are incorrect. A centerpiece of Reagan’s campaign was his pro life stance. Prayer in school was another big issue as was school busing.
He was very much a social conservative, and was quite outspoken about it.
The economic and foreign policy issues were the main driver of the debate that election, but social issues did play heavily in it.
You can trust Rush’s memory....libs hated Reagan for his social stances.
With due respect, any one who with a straight face compares the essence of Reagan’s campaign and the social issue’s place in it with the essence of Santrorum’s campaign is simply insulting the memory of Reagan.
If nothing else, Reagan was so much more like able than Santorum that the comparison fails epically right there. But Reagan did not lead with these issues, nope, no way.
However, you are forgetting Reagan ran on what he called the three legged stool, which included the leg of a strong moral foundation as well. He actively sought evangelical (and catholic) support on these issues, and was very up front about his pro-life stance.
I think a candidate who shorts any one of the three legs Reagan spoke of is missing the mark. Reagan always tied the three ideas together, and did so masterfully.
No, I am not forgetting the three legged stool at all. I am also not forgetting that while Reagan was honest and sincere about his beliefs in social conservatism, he was much more realistic about a President’s job.
You cannot separate Rick’s stool, which has two tiny legs and the doggoned social tree trunk - from his whole presentation. When you walk out with a sweater vest (and YES, optics DO MATTER) and then your family comes out and takes up the whole stage - and you make them a big issue - then you are making the social issues far greater a part of your entire image.
Reagan NEVER did that. His campaign had an entirely different feel, look, smell, essence than Santorums’ does. If Santorum was at all Reaganesque in any way, shape or form, I would likely support him.
He isn’t. I do not.
Reagan was demonized as much as Santorum for his pro life, pro family stances.
I agree that the social issues weren’t the driver that they are now...RvW was only 7 years old and our social fabric was still intact then.
However, social issues were a large part of Reagan’s campaign, and motivated many conservatives like myself to support him...along with his pro military and pro business stances.
That is my memory of that time, and I believe you can find enough supporting quotes and evidence to support it.
In the end, it probably is just a matter of opinion...
It is true that Reagan supported a Constitutional amendment to allow prayer in (public) schools. It is also true that the Reagan Justice Department fought court-ordered, forced school busing. But neither of these was a major campaign issue in the 1980 election. One of the key aspects of the political genius of Regan was that he picked his battles carefully, and focused his efforts (both before and after he was elected) on a very small number of the most important issues: defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold war and reversing the 50 year trend of higher taxes and the increasing growth rate of the federal government.
Unfortunately, the candidate I support is not catching fire and has a minuscule chance of winning at this point.
There are three solutions, or we get Romney. Either we go all in for Santorum, Newt and Santorum cut a deal, or Newt pulls off some kind of miracle.
It's what we're left with, I have grave doubts that Romney is a decent alternative, he is the farthest of all three from projecting the ideals Reagan stood for.
Well your last post is more or less what I think too. I am hoping for a Newt miracle, and until I totally give up on that, I will resist joining the RS camp. I am not convinced he would actually accomplish more conservatism than Romney frankly, though he is more realiably so.
For years, this country worried too much about money and ability and neglected philosophy and character in a candidate. Now I fear we’ve gone too far the other way in our party with Santorum.
Ability, damnit, does matter. I see RS a distant third in the talent category of the four folks running. I see him as no better than tied for third in the accomplishment category. ( I also see flaws in his character, but for purposes of this thread, I won’t go there...)
These things matter, I’m telling you.
Well as you know, I think otherwise. Though folks like you certainly will help reelect Obama. And you know that, too.
“THIS was a great man.”
Yes, and the GOP nomenklatura detested him, and set about to dismantle all he had accomplished beginning on January 20, 1989. Here we are. There is no option but to defeat the machine again, inch by bloody inch.
“Well as you know, I think otherwise. Though folks like you certainly will help reelect Obama. And you know that, too.”
Honey badger don’t care.
Reagan’s forte was American strength, the advance of freedom, and total victory in the Cold War. As you say though, we knew where he stood, and he was express in his disapproval of abortion, if only on the grounds of caution in dealing with an unknown.
Fixed it for you.
When a man has a clear moral compass and political vision, it is easy to stay on course. That alone explains the difference between Reagan and Romney.
populist poplar-ist through and through. How many other politicians know that Michigan trees are all the right height?
You misspelled poplar tree lover. I fixed for you.
Would it be preferential if he were a maplist?
You could add one more SoCon:
Romney tried to slander Reagan by equating his own pro abortion stand with Reagan’s pro-life stand.
So I will hope for a Newt/Santorum alliance, that Santorum starts to pull votes from Romney, or that Romney implodes.
The smartest thing would be an alliance, I don't think Romney goes down without that.
If it's Romney, I'm going for the "drink half a fifth of
good decent scotch before going in to the voting booth" affect.
Yeah everybody but you will be responsible for an Obama victory, including me when I vote against Obama and you stay home. Go figure.
I am nearly as old as Rush, and I can tell you that in 1980 the culture war was not nearly as loud as it is today, with the exception of abortion. But in 1980 there was no war on Christmas, or a big push for faggot "marriage", faggot Boy Scout leaders, faggot soldiers, "Fisting Basics for Third Graders" in the government schools, or concentrated efforts by the atheist Democrats to demean the traditional family unit and drive Christianity from public view, etc..
America has come a long way in the past 30 years.