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Monday, June 06, 2016

Ronald Wilson Trump

Last month I wrote: "He's a mere celebrity whose ignorance will destroy the Republican Party and if, God forbid, elected president, he will start World War III. But enough about what the Washington Establishment said about Ronald Reagan."

Now Frank Rich of New York magazine has fleshed out this parallel between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. This is not just some Trumpkin fantasy.

From Frank Rich:
Craig Shirley, a longtime Republican political consultant and Reagan acolyte, has written authoritative books on the presidential campaigns of 1976 and 1980 that serve as correctives to the sentimental revisionist history that would have us believe that Reagan was cheered on as a conquering hero by GOP elites during his long climb to national power. To hear the right’s triumphalism of recent years, you’d think that only smug Democrats were appalled by Reagan while Republicans quickly recognized that their party, decimated by Richard Nixon and Watergate, had found its savior.
Grassroots Republicans, whom Reagan had been courting for years with speeches, radio addresses, and opinion pieces beneath the mainstream media’s radar, were indeed in his camp. But aside from a lone operative (John Sears), Shirley wrote, “the other major GOP players — especially Easterners and moderates — thought Reagan was a certified yahoo.” By his death in 2004, “they would profess their love and devotion to Reagan and claim they were there from the beginning in 1974, which was a load of horse manure.” Even after his election in 1980, Shirley adds, “Reagan was never much loved” by his own party’s leaders. After GOP setbacks in the 1982 midterms, “a Republican National Committee functionary taped a piece of paper to her door announcing the sign-up for the 1984 Bush for President campaign.”
Actually, I would argue they stole his legacy and replaced his shining city on the hill with a corrupt capital city that pushes globalism with its open borders and off-shore manufacturing in China, Vietnam and other hellholes where labor and life are cheap.

The parallels even go to the gaffes:
What put off Reagan’s fellow Republicans will sound very familiar. He proposed an economic program — 30 percent tax cuts, increased military spending, a balanced budget — whose math was voodoo and then some. He prided himself on not being “a part of the Washington Establishment” and mocked Capitol Hill’s “buddy system” and its collusion with “the forces that have brought us our problems—the Congress, the bureaucracy, the lobbyists, big business, and big labor.” He kept a light campaign schedule, regarded debates as optional, wouldn’t sit still to read briefing books, and often either improvised his speeches or worked off index cards that contained anecdotes and statistics gleaned from Reader’s Digest and the right-wing journal Human Events — sources hardly more elevated or reliable than the television talk shows and tabloids that feed Trump’s erroneous and incendiary pronouncements.
Like Trump but unlike most of his (and Trump’s) political rivals, Reagan was accessible to the press and public. His spontaneity in give-and-takes with reporters and voters played well but also gave him plenty of space to disgorge fantasies and factual errors so prolific and often outrageous that he single-handedly made the word gaffe a permanent fixture in America’s political vernacular. He confused Pakistan with Afghanistan. He claimed that trees contributed 93 percent of the atmosphere’s nitrous oxide and that pollution in America was “substantially under control” even as his hometown of Los Angeles was suffocating in smog. He said that the “finest oil geologists in the world” had found that there were more oil reserves in Alaska than Saudi Arabia. He said the federal government spent $3 for each dollar it distributed in welfare benefits, when the actual amount was 12 cents.
Frank Rich pierced the post-Reagan mythology that holds that Reagan was a free trader who loved open borders:
Republican leaders blasted Reagan as a trigger-happy warmonger. Much as Trump now threatens to downsize NATO and start a trade war with China, so Reagan attacked Ford, the sitting Republican president he ran against in the 1976 primary, and Henry Kissinger for their pursuit of the bipartisan policies of détente and Chinese engagement. The sole benefit of détente, Reagan said, was to give America “the right to sell Pepsi-Cola in Siberia.” For good measure, he stoked an international dispute by vowing to upend a treaty ceding American control over the Panama Canal. “We bought it, we paid for it, it’s ours, and we’re going to keep it!” he bellowed with an America First truculence reminiscent of Trump’s calls for our allies to foot the bill for American military protection. Even his own party’s hawks, like William F. Buckley Jr. and his pal John Wayne, protested. Goldwater, of all people, inveighed against Reagan’s “gross factual errors” and warned he might “take rash action” and “needlessly lead this country into open military conflict.”
Reagan was his own man, an American first, last and always. He was to John Wayne's right on the Panama Canal.

George Walker Bush tried to emulate Reagan but lacked the ability to cut himself loose from the donor class once and for all. That leaves Trump as the sole heir to that throne.

Frank Rich also pointed out the futility of the peacocks in Never Never Trump Land:
Mitt Romney and his ilk are far more conservative than that previous generation of ancien régime Republicans. But the Romney crowd is not going to have a restoration after the 2016 election any more than his father’s crowd did post-1964 — regardless of whether Trump is buried in an electoral avalanche, as Goldwater was, or wins big, as Reagan did against both Carter and Walter Mondale. Trump is far more representative of the GOP base than all the Establishment conservatives who are huffing and puffing that he is betraying the conservative movement and the spirit of Ronald Reagan. When the Bush family announces it will skip the Cleveland convention, the mainstream media dutifully report it as significant news. But there’s little evidence that many grassroots Republicans now give a damn what any Bush has to say about Trump or much else.
All those ladies and gentlemen who deny Trump is Reagan do so because they fear Trump is, and he will smote them as well as the Democratic Party.

Because they know in the great do-over in his life, Reagan would have taken them out, too.


  1. I am surprised that Frank Rich would write this article. Perhaps he is not the left-wing hack I had thought.

    Correction: "All those ladies and gentlemen who deny Trump is Reagan do so because they fear Trump is, and he will smote them as well as the Democratic Party." SMOTE is past tense; SMITE is present tense.

  2. Recall when Ronnie said to the heckler in San Diego, "Aw, shut up"...Trump channels Reagan. This is not going to be close. It'll be a glorious day in my life when Trump One touches down at Andrews next January to take The Oath. Hope and Change (LMFAO) replaced by MAGA. Glory Glory Hallelujah!!

  3. Donald Trump is the raging brushfire that will kill off all the dead undergrowth of the GOP and make room for lush, rampant new growth. The GOP Establishment is rightly afeared. - Elric

  4. This has been my point all along.

    I comment on another blog where one of the NeverTrumpers goes insane when I compare the two. Being about 20 years older than her, I remember the Reagan years very well and her efforts to turn Reagan into the One True Ted are almost laughable.

  5. When will we see bumper stickers that say:
    Ronald 1980 ---> Donald 2016


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