Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Reagan Myth

I've always found it a little bit perplexing the way today's Republicans invoke Ronald Reagan's name in hushed tones whenever they're searching for a way to burnish their conservative cred. Not to say the man wasn't a conservative, of course, but I highly doubt he would have won his elections (especially his re-election in '84, one of the most brutal electoral ass-whuppings of all time) with such healthy majorities without a serious attempt to play to the middle (back when the middle wasn't so far to the right).

I can't say I'm a fan of everything (or most things) that Reagan accomplished during his two terms, but he was able to breach political divides in ways that just seem untenable today, made even moreso thanks to the current GOP's "litmus test" brand of politics that has people running away from their own ideals based on some misbegotten notion of WWRRD. Peter Beinart is no flag-waving leftie by any stretch, but even he finds a disconnect between the Republican mythology about "conservative firebrand" Reagan and the reality of "political pragmatist" Reagan.

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