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1/17/2008
OBAMA PRAISES REAGAN AS “SINGULAR FIGURE”
CATEGORY: General

This blog post originally appears in The American Thinker

Hard to guess what Obama’s game is here but in an interview with the Reno-Gazette editorial board, the Democratic contender for the nomination praised Ronald Reagan and gave some decidedly un-progressive reasons for his admiration:

I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

(Transcription from video courtesy of Open Left)

Many heads exploding today on the left. Matt Stoller:

It is extremely disturbing to hear, not that Obama admires Reagan, but why he does so. Reagan was not a sunny optimist pushing dynamic entrepreneurship, but a savvy politician using a civil rights backlash to catapult conservatives to power. Lots of people don’t agree with this, of course, since it doesn’t fit a coherent narrative of GOP ascendancy. Masking Reagan’s true political underpinning principles is a central goal of the conservative movement, with someone as powerful as Grover Norquist seeking to put Reagan’s name on as many monuments as possible and the Republican candidates themselves using Reagan’s name instead of George Bush’s in GOP debates as a mark of greatness. Why would the conservative movement create such idolatry around Reagan? Is is because they just want to honor a great man? Perhaps that is some of it. Or are they trying to escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years, as they did after Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I?

Mr. Stoller cannot be taken seriously if he actually believes that conservatives are trying to "escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years…" That’s the kind of shallow, vapid analysis one would expect from a partisan hack like Stoller but does not reflect the reality of what is happening on the right.

Indeed, others on the left have been pushing this notion that Reagan’s success as a politician was due almost entirely to his pandering to southern whites and playing the race card:

No, Ronald Reagan didn’t appeal to people’s optimism, he appealed to their petty, small minded bigotry and selfishness. Jimmy Carter told people to tighten their energy belts and act for the good of the country; Ronald Reagan told them they could guzzle gas with impunity and do whatever the hell they wanted. He kicked off his 1980 campaign talking about "state’s rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi—the site of the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964’s Freedom Summer. He thus put up a welcome sign for Reagan Democrats, peeling off white voters who were unhappy with the multi-ethnic coalition within the Democratic Party.

Only those ignorant of the concept of federalism and Reagan’s commitment to turning back the tide of federal control – not in matters of civil rights – but in education and other areas where there was federal overreach. would posit the notion that Reagan was giving a “green light” to racists.

In fact, Obama’s analysis would seem to validate Reagan’s critique – that the government had “grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating.” This disconent was fed by people like Carter who talked consistently about America’s better days being behind it and that we must learn to live with less. With that kind of attitude, there would still be a Soviet Union today and America would probably look a lot like it.

The hard left will never understand Reagan nor what his revolution was about or what it has wrought. Obama has made one of the more astute moves of the campaign – if he isn’t forced to backtrack and qualify his words about Reagan. By invoking The Gipper, he establishes a powerful connection with a true agent of change – despite the fact that his policies would serve to undermine most of what Reagan accomplished and represented. As long as he sticks with generalities and platitudes, he can obscure that part of his program.

Obama’s surprising words about Reagan won’t garner him too many GOP votes. But it will soften his image so that he doesn’t look like quite the progressive ogre many on the right would like to paint him.

ADDENDUM

Edwards may be able to get away with trashing Obama for these words of praise for Reagan but one wonders what the Great Triangulator is going to say about it.

Many moderates and independents are also fond of the The Gipper and in a general election, Hillary needs those votes to win. My guess is, if pressed, Hillary will say something like “I wouldn’t have put it quite that way…” and then acknowledge Reagan’s optimism and skill as a politician.

Meanwhile, the netnuts are beside themselves. I’ll have more reaction in a while as the wailing and gnashing of teeth continues.

By: Rick Moran at 8:42 am
11 Responses to “OBAMA PRAISES REAGAN AS “SINGULAR FIGURE””
  1. 1
    Mike Said:
    9:58 am 

    If not for Reagan, not only would the Soviet Union still exist, but Afganistan, and Eastern Eurpoe would still be under it’s control (and since their empire was based on expansion, it is reasonable to believe they would have continued to expand in the face of perceived Western weakness). For if there were no Reagan, there would probably have not been a Thatcher.

    As far as optimism, one of Reagan’s signature lines was referring to America as “the shining city on the hill.” If that is not optimistic, I don’t know what is.

  2. 2
    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Video: The obligatory “Obama praises Reagan” clip Pinged With:
    10:16 am 

    [...] Except he doesn’t even praise him. He simply acknowledges that Reagan’s election was a paradigm shift from big government to small government (one which the GOP failed to sustain) and, importantly to Obama’s message, from division over war and scandal to something new. The hope that he can pull off something similar if elected explains probably 90% of his appeal to Republicans and right-leaning independents. Naturally this is cause for much head-shaking among the nutroots, as it shows once again Obama’s alleged propensity towards conservative “framing” or whatever pitiful buzzword they’re using nowadays for Democrats who don’t quite have the fight fight fightyness that the nutroots cherishes in losers like, say, John Edwards. [...]

  3. 3
    Chip Said:
    10:53 am 

    If a “hippie wannabe” like Stoller thinks that his “cause” is being advanced by preaching a revised history of “The Gipper” to his petulant little choir, then the rest of us who have moved well beyond their “60s/70s liberation” mindset (i.e. are no longer existing in a self-induced “blue smoke” haze) would do well not to interrupt them.

  4. 4
    Polimom Says » Some meat and potatoes from Obama Pinged With:
    12:04 pm 

    [...] Rick Moran, at Right Wing Nut House: Obama’s surprising words about Reagan won’t garner him too many GOP votes. But it will soften his image so that he doesn’t look like quite the progressive ogre many on the right would like to paint him. [...]

  5. 5
    Rodney A Stanton Said:
    1:04 pm 

    He sounds confident to me. Once he’s the Dem Pesidential candidate he wants all the Ronnie Dems who are mad at the progressive/left leaning Bush clan on his team. Seems to me he thinks he has SC in the bag; as well as Nevada.

  6. 6
    Arthur Said:
    3:04 pm 

    > Rodney A Stanton Said: 1:04 pm

    > He sounds confident to me.

    yup. He’s positioning himself for the general election. This guy is a smart pol. Gonna be tougher to beat than everybody thought a few months ago.

  7. 7
    Tano Said:
    4:14 pm 

    “Obama’s surprising words about Reagan won’t garner him too many GOP votes.”

    Correct. But it will help him get some Democrat votes.
    Reagan Democrats.
    Add that to an already resurgent main-line Democratic party and you are starting to look at something big.

  8. 8
    bbf Said:
    11:53 pm 

    Another POV of Reagan:

    The real Ronald Reagan was a right-wing reactionary most of his life and was one of the most anti-Communist, pro-imperialist presidents in US History.

    Reactionary? You don’t know the meaning of the term. There were fewer presidents more forward thinking and willing to try new ideas. The fact that they were conservative ideas only brands you as an ignoramus.

    He started his career as a conservative by informing on his fellow Hollywood actors during the McCarthy witch-hunts.

    Reagan did not name names to any committee of Congress or to the FBI. He cooperated with the FBI to root out communists in the craft unions.

    After he became governor of California, he ordered his state police to carry out the most violent attacks against the Civil Rights and Student Free Speech movements.

    Ah yes! Those peaceloving people who would never hurt a flea. And saying that he “ordered” the state police to “carry out violent attacks” is a lie.

    He fired Angela Davis from her teaching position at UCLA for her political views: because she was a member of the Communist Party USA. He carried out a bloody suppression against the Black Panther Party, which was born in his state.

    Angela Davis was not teaching. She was preaching. If she is going to draw a salary from the state for teaching, then she should probably put for the effort to teach instead of missing classes to attend coordinating meetings and such. As for the Black Panthers – a street gang that extorted money, committed murder for hire, and other crimes – yes, Reagan did “suppress” them. They were criminals.

    He was a master demagogue who knew how to present extremist right-wing policies in a simple and common sense way. He fooled a lot of voters. He also promoted a lot of cynicism among democratic-minded voters many of whom stopped voting. He won the presidency always with a minority of the electorate.

    Ah yes! Here we get to the nub of the matters. “He fooled a lot of voters.” BUT NOT ME! ONLY I AND A PRECIOUS FEW BRILLIANT PEOPLE WERE ABLE TO SEE THROUGH REAGAN AND RESIST HIS CHARM. You are an arrogant fool.

    He was one of the most anti-labor US presidents in history. He started his first term by destroying the air controller union (PATCO) and was out to crush the entire labor movement.

    “...and was out to crush the entire labor movement.” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah right. The labor movement was doing just fine in destroying itself without Reagan’s help.

    He was one of the most active presidents against racial equality in modern history. He was elected using the fictitious welfare queen to convince millions of white voters that Black women on welfare were the reason for high taxes. He consciously and maliciously used racism to promote division and animosity. To send a message, he started his reelection campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place where three civil rights workers were killed by the KKK in 1964. Under his watch the Republicans developed their southern alliance, which was an alliance with Dixiecrat racist, including the KKK. Throughout his two terms in office he staunchly supported the South African racist regime and opposed any effort to boycott them. He consistently opposed affirmative action and all attempts to seriously enforce civil rights laws. He was elected on racism, and he ruled with racism.

    It really is a pity how shallow and ignorant you are. You just regurgitated all the recent talking points of Krugman and other lefties who have been trying to besmirch Reagan’s name of late. It’s quite funny, really. Don’t you have anything original to say? Or are you so stupid that you can only parrot what some other inane lefty comes up with.

    What a joke you are. A sad joke.

    ########

    I do remember having the impression that during the last years of his administration, he was probably senile.

  9. 9
    huckleberry Said:
    6:10 am 

    Obama is the man.

    Nutty leftist hippie

  10. 10
    huckleberry Said:
    6:12 am 

    I dont care how edwards and hillary try to paint the picture. Its a shame Edwards is trashing Obama he would have made a good team as VP under Obama

  11. 11
    Asp Said:
    4:18 pm 

    Obama did not just praise Reagan’s operational or political skill – he acknowledged that the American people “felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and [that?] government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating.” That implies that the welfare state needed at least to be put on a diet – unless he thinks the American people were deluded. But I think Obama radiates trust in the electorate.

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