Friday, July 29, 2011

Recycling Reagan

Check out this excellent National Review article by Jonah Goldberg:

National Review | Jonah Goldberg | The Reagan Playbook No Longer Applies
President Obama still tries to blame what he can — and what he can’t — on Bush, but that’s growing ever more lame. Increasingly, however, he’s also trying to claim the Reagan mantle for himself.

...In his prime-time debt-ceiling address, he quoted Reagan’s support for a debt-reduction deal in 1982 that included tax increases. Afterwards, Obama chided, “Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan. But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach.”

Translation: See, I’m a mainstream guy who agrees with Reagan. Meanwhile, these knuckle-dragging tea partiers are to the right of the most conservative president in our lifetimes. Come back, independents! Love me, moderates!

While Obama’s invocation of Reagan worked on a lot of liberal pundits, it was a clunker with conservatives. Of course, it’s doubtful Obama thought it would actually persuade the GOP. After all, the 1982 deal that raised taxes was one of Reagan’s greatest regrets. The Democrats promised to cut $3 in spending for every $1 in tax increases. They lied, a fact Reagan resented until he died.
...Indeed, one of the reasons the tea parties are so “outrageously” intransigent and uncompromising is that they’ve seen what compromise has gotten in the past. In other words, they’ve learned the lessons of history. 
I, too, have found it very interesting how Obama has attempted to co-opt the Reagan legacy for his own purposes, and how the media has encouraged this idiocy.

What Obama fails to realize is that Reagan's power wasn't in his specific policies, but rather a lot of it derived from his power as a communicator, and communication is much more than giving good speeches reading a TelePrompter well.

Reagan paid attention and listened to what the American people had to say, and then reflected that back to his audience when he spoke. He comprehended the hopes and dreams of the average American citizen better than perhaps any modern President, and imbued his speeches with a sincere understanding of those ideas. That's why he was the "Great Communicator." Unless Obama learns how to do this, he can invoke Reagan's name a million times but never have his power.

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