Not Getting Reagan

Like Barack Obama, Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias seemingly have no understanding of how Ronald Reagan operated as a politician. Ezra writes:
What he's saying is that Reagan effectively understood the ideological currents in the country and used that mastery of public opinion to drive popular sentiment. In other words, he admires Reagan for shifting the center. . . . Obama is suggesting he has a fairly grandly ideological view of the president's role, and that it includes harnessing the ideological forces of the moment to push the country in a new direction.
This is simply balderdash. Ronald Reagan did not rise from thin air in 1980 and ride a wave of conservative sentiment. Ronald Reagan was the heir to Barry Goldwater's conservative revolution. He fought the Rockefeller "post-partisan" Republicans throughout his political career and finally won in 1980. He carried that message into a general election and won a mandate for his ideas. Obama is running a campaign that is the exact opposite of the Reagan trajectory. I know Ezra and Matt are young, but it is amazing how little they seem to know about Ronald Reagan. They could not possibly be more wrong than they are.

Update [2008-1-17 15:41:34 by Big Tent Democrat]: Via e-mail, commenter Eugene corrects me:
It's worse than that - Reagan wasn't just "heir" to Goldwater, he was a key player in the creation of the Goldwater movement, his candidacy, and his ideology. Particularly here in California, where Reagan had earlier played the central role in leading conservative seizures of Republican institutions, which were then used as the launching pad for Goldwater's '64 candidacy.
< Edwards Rips Obama's Reagan Comparison | Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Paul Rosenberg (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by BDB on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 02:48:27 PM EST
    Takes on Obama's assertion that Reagan changed America.  From Rosenberg:

    Reagan was a figurehead, a rallying point for the conservative movement that has taken over many of the elite institutions of America, but it has not changed the heart of America.  In particular, the notion that "government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability" is directly refuted by the most-respected, and most-cited public opinion survey in America, the General Social Survey , which is cited by social scientists more often than any other data source, except for the US Census.

    because of the republicans (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by athyrio on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 02:50:32 PM EST
    constantly touting how great Reagan is....Us older Americans (I am 62) remember Reagan well and it isnt fondly....He caused alot of harm to the middle class in this country and enriched big business...a trend that continues to this day...

    Another Take (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by BDB on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 05:31:57 PM EST
    This is now officially (none / 0) (#19)
    by DA in LA on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 07:11:04 PM EST
    one of those times I am embarrassed to be a Democrat.

    Ha! (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 07:52:17 PM EST
    You are certainly a ridiculous person aren't you?

    What level of absurdity will you reach next?


    I'm always reaching new heights. (none / 0) (#21)
    by DA in LA on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 07:54:23 PM EST
    But at least I have self-awareness.

    Ok (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 08:11:56 PM EST
    That's good.

    I agree (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jgarza on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 02:34:28 PM EST
    with Ezra, but hey, I'm young too.

    and also know nothing about Reagan (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 02:39:34 PM EST

    It is a crying shame.


    You'll get older mighty fast (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oldpro on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:51:33 PM EST
    if the Republicans take the White House again.  You can trust me on this.  There is absolutely nothing like undeniable reality.  Ask the air-traffic controllers.

    Well, Reagan did shift the center to the right (none / 0) (#6)
    by mike in dc on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:03:44 PM EST
    ...at least electorally, and turned many conservative tropes into "conventional wisdom".  I think in that respect Obama is correct.  We need a president who will shift the center to the left, and turn progressive tropes into "conventional wisdom".  
    Arguably, Mondale was a "fighting Dem", and he went down in flames in 1984.  

    I don't remember Reagan fondly either(I'm 40, old enough to remember what was going on and make some sense of it), but I don't get the sense that Obama was talking about pursuing the presidency in precisely the way Reagan did, so much as harnessing the desire for change and yoking it to a progressive agenda by being an effective "salesman" for progressive change.

    Due respect (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:12:43 PM EST
    It as if you did not read my post or my previous ones on the subject.

    I wonder (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:11:11 PM EST
    where the outrage is from the Obama camp over Reagan's explicit and well-documented appeal to race?

    Crickets (none / 0) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 04:38:33 PM EST
    That would not help him win votes like shoring up the Reagan myth  might. Obama seems to be running a campaign on Republicans did great things and had all the ideas and I'm not as bad as the other Democrats.

    Sounds like we should (none / 0) (#9)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:15:41 PM EST
    consider ourselves fortunate that Reagan isnt running now.

    Unfortunatley, the main "idea" that Raygun ran -- and won on, at least the first time, was that the October Supriseless Demos were wimps who wouldnt stand up to 'em hostage takin' I-ranians and the Rooskies. The Goldwateresqe rhetoric about less government was so much blowing of the proverbial, smoke; if anything, Reagan increased the size of government. And Barry Goldwater never had much use at all for the meddling, sanctimonious religious right that Reagan pulled onto the political center stage the way no president ever had before. Goldwaterite my as*.

    You could always write in (none / 0) (#11)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:22:59 PM EST
    Reagans name, BTD.

    There's at least 30% of the country who might see that as a powerful statement.


    you are supposed to (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jgarza on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:20:51 PM EST
    post in HTML format

    And it is OT (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 03:25:06 PM EST
    I am deleting.

    Great (none / 0) (#15)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 05:16:36 PM EST
    I hope this gives Edwards a chance to move back into real contention:

    "When you think about what Ronald Reagan did to the American people, to the middle class to the working people," said Edwards.

    "He was openly - openly - intolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country. He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment, you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment."

    "I can promise you this: this president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change."

    But I have my doubts that the majority of the electorate sees Reagan in such ideological terms or in fact that they can see anything in ideological terms. Unless they were directly harmed by Reagan because of association with a union. But at least it should help Edwards in NV this weekend.

    The majority of DEMOCRATS (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 05:28:16 PM EST
    should be Edwards' focus.

    I was thinking ahead to the GE (none / 0) (#18)
    by Alien Abductee on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 05:54:53 PM EST
    Not that I think Edwards is going to have to concern himself with that particular problem though.

    We're More Modern (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 09:41:58 PM EST
    Ronald Reagan did not rise from thin air in 1980 and ride a wave of conservative sentiment.

    So time goes faster, now.