The Establishment’s attacks on Sharron Angle have a familiar ring.
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It is thus no surprise that as conservatives come to prominence they are assailed just as Reagan was, sometimes in eerily almost the same words.
LET’S STICK WITH THE CASE of Nevada’s Sharron Angle, who won a fiercely contested three-way fight to face Senate Majority Leader and uber-Establishment leader Harry Reid.
Angle, with the predictability of heat in a Nevada desert, is being assailed by the Establishment as “essentially, crazy” (Huffington Post). Why? She has a “rigid ideology” and supports “phasing out Social Security and dismantling the Education Department.” All three accusations were used against Reagan to portray him as a crazed, heartless, well-out-of-the-mainstream ultra-conservative far-right-wing ideologue, who, don’t you know, was also a nut. Angle’s position on getting rid of the Department of Education was, by the way, part of the 1980 Reagan platform, a vow that failed but did nothing to deter his landslide victory over Carter. The idea has certainly been in the mainstream debate over education for 30 — say again 30 —years. Yet like clockwork, Reid’s Nevada Democratic Party gushed out a press release in the style of Reagan opponents from Pat Brown to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale calling Angle “wacky.”
“Why would you give away the Senate majority leader who has delivered time and time again?” Bill Clinton recently asked Nevadans, defending the Establishment and Harry Reid in the same terms LBJ allies and the liberal media used to defend the California Establishment and Pat Brown in 1966 against Reagan. Where Brown derided Reagan as “the crown prince of the extreme right” and the New York Times called Brown’s liberal Establishment record “truly remarkable” Clinton, sounding almost as Pat Brown-esque as Pat Brown himself, defended the Establishment by deriding Angle as too extreme.
And on cue, just as it did when Ronald Reagan began to emerge 45 years ago — say again, 45 years ago! — the unchanging narrative of the Establishment New York Times is at it still, describing Sharron Angle in a recent story as “firmly to the right of most mainstream Nevada voters.”
Reaching back to their original anti-Reagan playbook, just as the Times of 1965 found Establishment Republicans to say Reagan was un-electable because he was too far right, so now they have found a Nevada Establishment Republican to step forward and play the role California Establishment Republicans played in 1965.
“I would say there are a lot of Republicans who will find it difficult to support Sharron Angle,” said State Senator William J. Raggio, a Republican who has served in the Legislature since 1972. “Abolishing the Department of Education, phasing out Social Security, those are pretty extreme positions. I think any incumbent is vulnerable, but you have to have somebody that is also acceptable if you’re going to win.”
If one is part of today’s Nevada Republican political Establishment, quite apparently, as Mr. Raggio demonstrates, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Clearly, Raggio was not a fan of Ronald Reagan — or has absolutely no idea what Reagan said that resonated with so many millions of Americans. And if memory serves, running on a platform in 1980 holding positions on Social Security and the Department of Education almost identical to Sharron Angle — Ronald Reagan won Nevada with over 62% of the vote.
And just as the John Birch Society was used as an Establishment boogeyman to scare voters about Reagan, so now is Scientology being used to try and scare Nevada voters about Angle. The Establishment loves the boogeyman, and there is always one to be had.
The American people, their nation born out of rebellion against The Establishment of the day, has never been fond of those who believe they are born to rule. And they don’t get scared of the boogeyman of the moment. Rebelling against the Establishment that was the authority of the Church of England was illegal in 1620. Boo! And so the Pilgrims simply rebelled — by leaving England altogether and coming to America, the boogeyman be damned. Time after time after time ever since, the American spirit of rebellion against the Establishment of the day has eventually always carried the day. The Pilgrims birthed dissident colonies, and the rebellion against the Establishment that was symbolized by King George III birthed a nation. (If you rebel, we will hang you, threatened the King. Boo!) The rebellion went on, the boogeyman answered with a document called the Declaration of Independence. Within that nation, ever since, rebellion against whatever and whomever became the symbol of the Establishment became in itself a treasured American tradition.
By 1965, the new George Washington was a much-derided actor named Ronald Reagan. He was, sneered the Establishment defenders of the time, a too far-right, out-of-the-mainstream crazy to ever be elected too anything.
It was — and is still — the argument of choice made by Establishment defenders today as they attack everyone from the newly emergent Sharron Angle in Nevada to Carly Fiorina in California to Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and, let it not be forgotten, Scott Brown in Massachusetts. And most ferociously of all in the potential candidate class, let us not forget the anti-Establishment favorite Sarah Palin of Alaska.
Every one of these candidates (or prospective candidate in Palin’s case) are the figurative descendants of American anti-establishment figures from William Bradford of the Pilgrims to George Washington and his fellow Founding Fathers, to Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Reagan and, in the media of today, the upstarts at Fox and, but of course, the stars of talk radio beginning with Founding Father Rush to Hannity and Levin and Beck and moving straight on to the Internet and the redoubtable Drudge and Breitbart. Did we mention the late William F. Buckley, and that scourge of the Establishment The American Spectator’s own R. Emmett Tyrrell?
Does anyone honestly look at Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin or Laura Ingraham and think the word “Establishment”?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online