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The rigidity of moderation: Ex-Florida guv rewrites history of Reagan and Dad
(Page 2 of 7)
The Times was careful to have Ford restate the point for emphasis:
Asked if he shared the view that Mr. Reagan could not win, Mr. Ford said “it would be an impossible situation” because Mr. Reagan is “perceived as a most conservative Republican. A very conservative Republican.”
“A very conservative Republican can’t win in a national election,” he said, “can’t win in a national election.’
Meaning that Mr. Reagan can’t win?
“That’s right,” Mr. Ford said.
Thus spoke former President Jeb Bush… ahhhh…sorry… Gerald Ford. Mr. Ford, of course, lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter. Reagan went on to defeat Carter nine months later — in a 44 state landslide. Four years after that, Reagan carried 49 states against Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale.
Jeb Bush’s complaint isn’t new and it isn’t news. And the Times and the liberal media have been singing this old song for decades.
Moderate Republicans dating to Dewey have been trotting out this tiresome argument that “most conservative” Republicans can’t win — usually after another moderate loses another election. Dewey, twice losing in 1944 and 1948 flying the moderate GOP flag, never caught the irony when he headed to Princeton to lecture in 1950 and boldly asserted that a conservative GOP would mean that “the Republicans would lose every election and the Democrats would win.”
Likewise Governor Bush seems somehow not to realize that of the four presidential elections of 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2004 — the elections involving his father and brother — the only one with a Reaganesque margin was the election in which his father went out of his way to campaign as Ronald Reagan’s conservative heir — 1988. The others were either lost outright (in 1992, after a moderate first term produced a conservative rebellion) or won by unnecessarily close margins — with the moderate “compassionate conservatism” as their domestic centerpiece in 2000 and 2004.
The real problem with Jeb Bush’s assessment is not just that it’s old news by some six or seven decades. Dewey Redux. The real problem is that Jeb Bush is decidedly making a ham-handed attempt to re-imagine both Reagan and the Reagan presidency — not to mention the Bush 41 presidency — in a fashion that, simply put, bears no resemblance to fact.
In other words, Jeb Bush is trying to re-write history in the service of one of the oldest stale political arguments that was long ago correctly relegated to the GOP’s political attic.
To be accurate and fair, let’s remember that former President Ford wasn’t the only moderate Republican to be painting then-former Governor Reagan as some sort of extremist nut. There was a Reagan opponent in 1980 who delighted in following precisely the same script. And that would be, of course, one George Herbert Walker Bush.
What became known as “Reaganomics” — the policy based on the “Kemp-Roth” tax cuts that in the 1980s would create 21 million jobs, break the back of inflation and cut the unemployment rate in half — was famously derided by then-former Ambassador Bush as “voodoo economics.”
On May 11, 1980, the Times reported that Bush, campaigning in Michigan, was aghast at Reagan’s support for the “Kemp-Roth” tax cuts, named after congressional sponsors Jack Kemp and Bill Roth (the latter the Senator from Delaware). Bush, said the paper, insisted that Kemp-Roth was “a blueprint for economic chaos” and would increase inflation by “30%” and “substantially increase the rate of unemployment.”
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?