Reagan and Silent Cal — will union attacks help Wisconsin’s Governor onto GOP ticket?
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What Governor Walker is displaying in vivid fashion is a Coolidgesque and Reaganesque understanding of what it means to be a principled if not instinctive conservative. He is demonstrating on every television and computer screen in the country and around the world the same kind of sentiment Reagan once exhibited early on in his first race for governor of California. Pressed by California’s liberal media about his tough stance against protesting students at the University of California at Berkeley, which in turn attracted support from members of the extremist John Birch Society, Reagan politely replied that they agreed with him — he was not seeking to agree with them.
This is a fine yet distinctive line that Reagan understood clearly. It is why — not to pick here on my former Reagan White House boss Mitch Daniels, whom I like — when now Governor Daniels of Indiana says:
We must be the vanguard of recovery, but we cannot do it alone. We have learned in Indiana, big change requires big majorities. We will need people who never tune in to Rush or Glenn or Laura or Sean. Who surf past C-SPAN to get to SportsCenter. Who, if they’d ever heard of CPAC, would assume it was a cruise ship accessory.
It is why conservatives are horrified at RomneyCare, an apparent effort by Romney to do just what Reagan — and Coolidge and now Walker — refused to do: abandon principle to accommodate the loud voices in search of some sort of mystical “big majority.”
It is why some blinked in astonishment as former governor Huckabee chose to take on Romney in the 2008 primaries by describing the successful entrepreneur as someone who reminds voters not of a co-worker but the boss who laid-off the co-worker, a decided slap Obama-style at employers. (Coolidge, proudly, was an unabashed believer in corporations as institutions whose very purpose was “to serve the people better.” No business bashing from Cal.) And why only this past Sunday one shook one’s head at Huckabee’s remark to Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace in this exchange:
WALLACE: But you had another sales tax increase when you came in as governor.
HUCKABEE: That was a one-eighth for conservation, which meant that we were able to dedicate a significant portion of funds for the preservation of the natural state, which is the state’s motto, natural preserves. It was supported by the voters. It was on the ballot. Did I support it? Yes. But you know what, so did the voters, and they voted for it.
Translation of his remarks to Wallace? Yeah, I increased the sales tax so I could grow the size of Arkansas big government but all those liberal voters love that stuff so, for the sake of a big majority, I went along. But hey — it was only a one-eighth of a dollar raise in the size of big government. Give me a break.
Huckabee’s response, like Daniels’ remarks at CPAC, like Romney’s health care experiment, shows precisely the same tendency that drove Ronald Reagan nuts — and Calvin Coolidge before him. In search of votes, leadership is interpreted as agreeing with liberals and the big government philosophy. Which has brought us all to the village of “we-kicked-the-can-here-and-can’t-seem-to-find-a-place-to-kick-it-again.”
This is precisely why Republican presidents from Coolidge’s immediate successor — the progressive Republican Herbert Hoover — to Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and the two Bushes are in the swamps of presidential rankings while Reagan was just rated as the greatest president in the latest Gallup poll. Not just the greatest Republican president. The greatest president — period.
All of which goes straight to the heart of a very sensitive issue in the GOP nomination fight.
Is this election about winning — and governing — on principle? As Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan — and now Scott Walker — exemplify?
Or is this about winning — and then governing as Obama-lite? Anything to win that “big majority.” The hallmark of Republican RINOS from the get-go. All leaving behind a government grown bigger — and their successors to take over the latest round of “kick-the-fiscal-can-down-the-road.” This time with no place left to kick?
What resonated with Americans about Calvin Coolidge was that he meant what he said when it came to his conservative principles. He ran on them. He won on them. He governed on them. As did Ronald Reagan.
As does, self-evidently, Scott Walker.
Which is why, as with the Boston Police strike, the Wisconsin public employees chaos may end up with the biggest union backfire of them all:
Eventually making Scott Walker President of the United States.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?