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Analysis: Who is the true heir to Ronald Reagan?
Oakland Tribune ^ | 3/25/12 | Steven Harmon, Bay Area News Group

Posted on 03/25/2012 2:16:49 PM PDT by SmithL

Campaigning in former President Reagan's hometown before last week's Illinois primary, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum asserted that he was the only candidate "who stands on the pillars of what Ronald Reagan built as the modern Republican Party."

Speaking in the shadow of a statue of Reagan, Santorum proclaimed: "Let the voice of Reagan be heard across this land."

And it isn't just Santorum: During the GOP presidential debates, Reagan's name was invoked nearly 250 times by the GOP field.

But many historians argue that if Reagan had a true heir, he or she might raise taxes, compromise with Democrats and put aside the notion of taming the deficit during an economic downturn.

During his two terms in the White House in the '80s and as California's governor in the late '60s and early '70s, Reagan did all those things.

"I'm not sure how well Ronald Reagan would do in today's highly partisan environment," said Stephen Knott, an author of two books on Reagan and professor of national security studies at the U.S. Naval War College. "If he tried to do today what he did in compromising on a budget dispute with House Democrats in 1982, he'd be crucified."

Indeed, the historical record clearly shows that Reagan was much more conciliatory, pragmatic and centrist than any of today's major GOP presidential candidates, who have proposed such things as deporting millions of illegal immigrants and limiting contraception as they vow not to raise taxes under any circumstances.

"Republicans are trying to use Ronald Reagan as a symbol for all the things he stood for," said George Lakoff, author of several books that show Republicans have been better than Democrats in framing political issues. "But they may be calling up an image that doesn't fit."

Reagan and Obama

To be sure, Reagan is rightly remembered for his disdain of government -- perhaps the single feature of his presidency that animates today's Republicans. Immediately after being sworn in January 1981, Reagan said that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

He also cast a baleful eye on welfare programs in a way that resonated with many Americans, often repeating the unsubstantiated story about the "welfare queen" who tooled around Chicago in a Cadillac.

Remnants of the catchphrase have seeped into this year's campaign, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accusing President Barack Obama of being the "food-stamp president," a phrase critics say has the same not-so-subtle racial undertones that Reagan sometimes used to energize the right.

Gingrich has boasted he is the true heir to Reagan, claiming to be a key lieutenant of the president -- though he once accused Reagan of "trying to score a touchdown for liberalism, for the liberal welfare state" with his 1982 tax hike.

In his speech in Dixon, Ill., Santorum compared his outsider candidacy to Reagan's insurgency bid in 1976, when he challenged the GOP's establishment choice, President Gerald Ford. But a more apt analogy could be made between Reagan's re-election bid in 1984 and Obama's this year.

Both Reagan and Obama entered office facing the worst recessions since the Great Depression, with unemployment reaching historic numbers. But the economy brightened for Reagan, in time for his Morning in America campaign, and it seems to be turning around for Obama as he gears up his re-election campaign.

Obama has often been called a great communicator in the Reagan mold, inspiring Democrats with his "Change We Can Believe In" slogan. But the way he has governed -- at one point seeking a so-called Grand Bargain with Republicans -- has frustrated liberals who felt betrayed by his brand of compromise.

Reagan was also known for speaking one way and governing another.

In 1967, the first thing he did as California governor was raise taxes to fill a $500 million deficit left by his predecessor, Pat Brown. Later, he raised taxes by $2 billion to put together a $10 billion budget.

In his first year as governor, Reagan also signed the nation's most liberalized abortion law, saying at the time: "Liberalization of abortion laws is necessary." Later, when he ran for president, Reagan pivoted to the right in his attempt to expand the GOP base to include religious conservatives, becoming an anti-abortion candidate.

Bill Bagley, a San Rafael Republican who served in the Legislature from 1960 to 1974 and authored the second tax-reform bill that Reagan signed, said the Reagan he knew is not the Reagan that contemporary Republicans imagine him to be.

"He was there to govern. When we needed revenue, he acceded and did the right thing," said Bagley, 84. "He was there every day, negotiating. Every once in a while he'd break into a joke, but he had the ability to keep things going."

Reagan "never went for the jugular, and he was far from being a conservative," Bagley added. "What's happened recently is the ideologues have taken over on the Republican side, both nationally and in California."

Political advice

Reagan himself spoke of avoiding the pitfalls of ideological politics when he first became governor.

"We cannot offer (voters) a narrow sectarian party in which all must swear allegiance to prescribed commandments," he told conservative activists. "Such a party can be highly disciplined, but it does not win elections. This kind of party soon disappears in a blaze of glorious defeat, and it never puts into practice its basic tenets, no matter how noble they may be."

As president, Reagan jolted the nation by cutting the top income-tax rate in half. But a year later, he signed a $37 billion tax increase, the largest in U.S. history -- bigger than President Bill Clinton's $30 billion increase in 1993. And that was followed with another major tax increase in 1986. Both were progressive taxes that put more of the burdens on the wealthy. In his two terms, he signed 11 tax hikes.

Reagan promised to balance the budget, but he tripled the national debt to a record $2.6 trillion by the time he left office.

Various interpretations

Still, conservatives who decry deficits and refuse to entertain new taxes say they aren't bothered by Reagan's record.

They say that Reagan's key contribution was in making taxes and spending -- and a principled opposition to big government -- the cornerstone of modern American political debate.

"Taking the top rate from 70 percent to 35 makes up for a lot of sins," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "He had a great handle on the principles of limited government -- even if individual policies weren't a furtherance of his world vision."

Other conservatives are convinced Reagan wouldn't have raised taxes now and that he would have been beloved by the tea party.

"Most people are in love with the ideal of Ronald Reagan in broad terms," said Jon Fleischman, a former California Republican Party executive director who writes the conservative FlashReport blog. "Raising taxes is a legitimate part of his history. But as a practical matter, a great number of conservatives will first learn that Reagan signed tax increases when they read this story. It's just not a part of the narrative."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: billbagley; election2012; enemedia; georgelakoff; gop; jonfleischman; leftuniverse; reagan; reaganrevisionism; revisionisthistory; rewritingreagan; rick4biggovernment; rickisnotreagan; rickisnotronnie; rinorevisionists; stephenknott; stevenharmon; taxaddicts; vichyrepublicans; whatafraud; whatanidiot

1 posted on 03/25/2012 2:16:57 PM PDT by SmithL
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To: SmithL

That’s easy,....Newt! The others are pretenders and Romney even hated Reagan.


2 posted on 03/25/2012 2:20:16 PM PDT by chuckles
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To: SmithL
Well, Newt delivers as knowingly as Readan did.

Newt can tell a story, teach historically and remind us of our heritage.

My primary is comon' up in April and I'll check the Gingrich box.

3 posted on 03/25/2012 2:21:17 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: knarf

I would vote Newt also if I could - a wealth of knowledge and a lot of guts. One thing he doesn’t seem to have is Reagan’s good nature.

Oh how I wish we could have President Palin. For me she has it all.


4 posted on 03/25/2012 2:29:36 PM PDT by Aria ( 2008 wasn't an election - it was a coup d'etat.)
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To: SmithL

Reagan couldn’t survive the race these days. Santorum has been attacked for doing some of the same things Reagan did.


5 posted on 03/25/2012 2:33:39 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: chuckles

“We are at the end of the Reagan era. We’re at a point in time when we’re about to start redefining — as a number of people started talking about, starting to redefine — the nature of the Republican Party, in response to what the country needs.”

I find it very odd that people wish to force the mantle of a man around the neck of the one who said that man’s mantle is irrelevant.


6 posted on 03/25/2012 2:34:33 PM PDT by Ingtar
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To: SmithL
Well..Its certainly not; Myth or RuPaul
Santorum; wavers (a much better conservative ;)
Newt; seems to be solidly conservative (in thinking).
better speaker, (steeltrap :) mind is incredibly active & knows Americas' greatest
qualities, very much unlike Parsley OBozo.

7 posted on 03/25/2012 2:54:16 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass ( Kill all the terrorists, Protect all the borders, ridicule all the (surviving) Liberals :^)
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To: SmithL

The article is so full of horse apples. Go to the Reagan Library, read what he wrote, not what others write about him. When a candidate says the era of Reagan is alive and well, I’ll know he’s worth following.


8 posted on 03/25/2012 3:00:04 PM PDT by pacpam (action=consequence and applies in all cases - friend of victory)
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To: SmithL

we are.


9 posted on 03/25/2012 3:34:04 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (obamacare is an oxymoron.)
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To: skinkinthegrass

I agree.


10 posted on 03/25/2012 3:40:24 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: SmithL; fieldmarshaldj; GOPsterinMA; BillyBoy; sickoflibs

They just look lame when they compare themselves to Reagan, none of them measure up.

It makes sense to take up the mantle of our only good President in recent decades but perhaps it’s time to move on and find a new campaign tactic.


11 posted on 03/25/2012 3:44:39 PM PDT by Impy (Don't call me red.)
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To: Impy; SmithL; fieldmarshaldj; BillyBoy; sickoflibs

“They just look lame when they compare themselves to Reagan, none of them measure up.”

Ain’t that the truth.


12 posted on 03/25/2012 3:50:31 PM PDT by GOPsterinMA (The Establishment is the establishment.)
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To: SmithL

Sarah Palin.


13 posted on 03/25/2012 4:30:20 PM PDT by eCSMaster (Conservative patriots, Rise up!)
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To: SmithL

Her name is Sarah Palin


14 posted on 03/25/2012 4:32:12 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (Steyn: "If Greece has been knocking back the ouzo, we're face down in the vat.")
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To: SmithL

Scott Walker.


15 posted on 03/25/2012 4:33:53 PM PDT by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: the invisib1e hand

I agree, we all are the heirs of President Reagan.
It’s up to us to see that his legacy continues,
which will NOT happen should the Obama regime
get another four years to continue their deconstruction
program.

I think of the four running now, Newt is the closeist,
He is not afraid to attack and he has a wry sense of
humor, he knows how washington works and where not
just a few of the bodies are buried, which skeletons
are in whose closets and who needs smoozing and who
needs arm twisting to get our agenda done.


16 posted on 03/25/2012 4:39:03 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: SmithL

A better and more difficult question to answer is: Who is the heir to Jefferson? I submit that nobody today is.


17 posted on 03/25/2012 5:09:11 PM PDT by Smber (The smallest minority is the individual. Get the government off my back.)
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To: SmithL
Photobucket
18 posted on 03/25/2012 5:47:13 PM PDT by Fast Moving Angel (Newt's not a perfect candidate but Jesus isn't running this year. - shoff)
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To: pacpam
When a candidate says 'x' I’ll know he’s worth following.

A candidate's dream - a voter who moves towards me, all I have to say is what they are looking for.

19 posted on 03/25/2012 6:02:34 PM PDT by presently no screen name
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To: pacpam; SmithL; SandRat
"The article is so full of horse apples."
That's so TRUE, obviously another fine example of "modern journalism"
President Reagan, had the entire RINO/Liberal/Media/Congress
establishments working against him & his administration...
and he did the unforgivable; He was successful in 4 years & re-election.

Pres__ent "Parsley" OBozo; has to use teleprompters and had 2
whole years w/ total control of congress and had very friendly press;
which covers/spikes news for him..while in the process of destroy the
country's economic future and the US Constitution.
O'Bozo, must be defeated decisively for sake of future generations.


20 posted on 03/25/2012 6:36:42 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass ( Kill all the terrorists, Protect all the borders, ridicule all the (surviving) Liberals :^)
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To: SmithL
I think that this best sums up the difference between Reagan and Santorum... no matter how much he may claim to be in Reagan's mold.

---

Santorum:
“This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.”

Reagan:
"I'm convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: A better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority. Very simply, they want to be left alone in peace and safety to take care of the family by earning an honest dollar and putting away some savings. This may not sound too exciting, but there is something magnificent about it. On the farm, on the street corner, in the factory and in the kitchen, millions of us ask nothing more, but certainly nothing less than to live our own lives according to our values — at peace with ourselves, our neighbors and the world.

21 posted on 03/25/2012 7:26:16 PM PDT by gogogodzilla (Live free or die!)
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To: gogogodzilla

Excellent post.


22 posted on 03/25/2012 7:28:07 PM PDT by trappedincanuckistan (livefreeordietryin)
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To: SmithL

These liberal Oakland punks will NEVER stop trying to sully the reputation of the greatest POTUS of the 20th century!!! (and Governor of CA, as well!!!)


23 posted on 03/25/2012 7:34:25 PM PDT by SierraWasp (I'm done being disappointed by "He/She is the only one who can win" and being embarrassed later!!!)
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To: skinkinthegrass

WTH? Are you trying to be some kind of a “centrist,” or something?


24 posted on 03/25/2012 7:39:28 PM PDT by SierraWasp (I'm done being disappointed by "He/She is the only one who can win" and being embarrassed later!!!)
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To: SierraWasp
..just the facts....INSECT! :-)

25 posted on 03/25/2012 7:45:58 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass ( Kill all the terrorists, Protect all the borders, ridicule all the (surviving) Liberals :^)
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To: chuckles

marco rubio because of the charisma....Chris Christie because of the take no prisoners nerve...


26 posted on 03/25/2012 7:47:41 PM PDT by cherry
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To: Impy

The three don’t come close to Reagan, in any way, shape or means. Laughable!


27 posted on 03/25/2012 7:53:59 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (God, family, country, mom, apple pie, the girl next door and a Ford F250 to pull my boat.)
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To: SierraWasp
and besides; in the middle (of the road), your likely to get
runover/crushed and tell me of a great political moderate.

28 posted on 03/25/2012 7:54:46 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass ( Kill all the terrorists, Protect all the borders, ridicule all the (surviving) Liberals :^)
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To: SmithL

Nobody is. The GOP is close to imploding. More and More a lot of the “good Guys” showing true colors as “Rinos”. very few I like and it dwindles.


29 posted on 03/25/2012 7:59:54 PM PDT by Mozilla (Defeat Romney first then defeat Obama)
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To: Ingtar

Ronald Reagan brought the working class into the wealthy class and maintained conservative values and principles for the Republican Party. For decades, the Republicans fought to widen the party from the Wall Street elite class that only wanted another tax cut, to the more conservative, Bible believer, gun toter, free enterprise, Constitutional republic, types. The “RINO” name comes from the old Rockefeller republicans. Newt found the right combo and took the Congress by storm. If we lose the Christians, NRA, balanced budget, anti abortion, voters to just get a tax cut, we will lose to the socialists morons that just vote “D” no matter what. Romney came form Massachusetts for goodness sake! Barney Fwank, John Kerry, and a mountain of Kennedy’s, are considered “moderates” there. Santorum is a good man, but has NO chance against Obama. Newt is the one that could embarrass Obama on any subject. He is the closest thing we will get for R Reagan in decades. I’m not looking to drink a beer with the president, I want someone competent to serve. The only thing I hear about Newt is “I don’t like him”. They really can’t put their finger on it, but he just doesn’t smooze with the crowd and tells them they are all full of crap. Reagan called the Soviets an evil empire and told them to tear down the wall! Newt would do and say the same. It just ruffles feathers.


30 posted on 03/25/2012 8:12:43 PM PDT by chuckles
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To: knarf

On the other hand, Romney has only been married once. Even Reagan couldn’t claim that. Romney has been a governor of a state, as well as done a few other things and been mildly successful.


31 posted on 03/25/2012 8:21:11 PM PDT by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: chuckles

I happen to believe that Santorum has a better chance to defeat Obama. I keep hearing this about Newt. I have yet to see him actually take off among any of the groups he needs to win the nomination, much less the White House. A net +5 postives is not going to allow him to go far. If he can manage to convince his way to the nomination, I will support him, but I cannot believe that will happen after Louisiana.


32 posted on 03/25/2012 8:33:53 PM PDT by Ingtar
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To: donmeaker
Romney has only been married once. Even Reagan couldn’t claim that

It shows it doesn't matter for a candidate to be GREAT. Your bozo obama was only married once. And has Obamacare and Mitt has Romneycare - he is VERY closely align with Barry.

Reagan was a PATRIOT and so is his protege, NEWT!

33 posted on 03/25/2012 10:28:28 PM PDT by presently no screen name
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To: presently no screen name
"Reagan was a PATRIOT and so is his protege, NEWT!"
and Parsley O'Bozo; has shown, a virulent hatred of Western Civilization & its distinct ideals.

34 posted on 03/25/2012 11:30:36 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass ( Kill all the terrorists, Protect all the borders, ridicule all the (surviving) Liberals :^)
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To: skinkinthegrass

Old news about bozo - tell it to those who think once married means something when choosing a president - lest they make the same mistake. However, I doubt they will listen, they’ve already been brainwashed by a LIAR candidate.


35 posted on 03/25/2012 11:53:11 PM PDT by presently no screen name
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To: SmithL

No, it’s Anthony Kennedy, the most powerful man in America!


36 posted on 03/26/2012 5:13:35 AM PDT by Theodore R. (Past is prologue: The American people have again let us down in this election cycle.)
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To: presently no screen name
"Old news about bozo... they’ve already been brainwashed by a LIAR candidate."
true; it just "truly irritating", people could be that stupid..lazy
the sheeple (certainly) are paying dearly now for that inattention.

37 posted on 03/26/2012 6:23:01 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass ( Kill all the terrorists, Protect all the borders, ridicule all the (surviving) Liberals :^)
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To: presently no screen name

I guess that is why so many align with Romney, he says whatever you want to hear. Except he won’t say the ‘era or Reagan is alive and well’ will he.


38 posted on 03/26/2012 3:21:17 PM PDT by pacpam (action=consequence and applies in all cases - friend of victory)
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