The rigidity of moderation: Ex-Florida guv rewrites history of Reagan and Dad
(Page 6 of 7)
And as each of these people pursued what Barry Goldwater once called “the dime store New Deal”, busily appealing to the elites of their cities, states and the nation at large, they were cast by the liberal media of the day as pillars of reason. (Unless they were nominated for president. In which case the media would savage them. The case of John McCain in 2008 being but the latest chapter in this long running story.)
The hard political fact is that what Jeb Bush is saying today, as discussed above, is nothing new. What he implies — that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were on the same page ideologically — is decidedly not true. One was a genuine conservative, the other a moderate. As that small issue of the Children’s Television Act and the dealings with Jimmy Carter that so frustrated my old boss Jack Kemp — he a serious Reagan ideological ally — illustrates so vividly.
Was George Bush a loyal vice president to Reagan? You bet he was. It simply wasn’t in his character to be otherwise. But once on his own, the moderate flag was raised to the top of the White House flag pole. And in a blink, the typical moderate rigidity led to his defeat.
Ronald Reagan was explicit about the difference between conservatives and GOP moderates, which he described in his famous 1975 CPAC speech as the difference between “bold colors” and “pale pastels.”
What Jeb Bush is suggesting now is nothing less than a return to the party of pale pastels. (He has also tweeted a bit of a “clarification”.)
What Grover Norquist has pointed out with precision on the tax issue is not only the failed politics of the Jeb Bush approach — which famously cut the Bush 41 presidency short — but that in a policy sense the stated objectives are never, ever achieved. President Bush 41 got taken to the cleaners policy-wise. Taxes went up, the cuts never happened. The government kept growing.
As Ronald Reagan well knew, the presidency had to be used not to accommodate the insatiable Statism of the left — but to defeat it. If that meant a veto would be overridden — so be it. Who cared what political pundits thought — principle was at stake. If that meant air traffic controllers had to be fired — so be it. The Soviet Union had to be defeated outright — not negotiated with as an eternal equal.
This core belief, shared by Newt Gingrich as the newly installed Speaker in 1995, is the reason for those Clinton balanced budgets. Not, alas, the Bush 41 tax increase, as Governor Bush would have it. Newt Gingrich campaigned flat out for a Reaganesque House majority to replace the Moderate Republican Minority that had languished in place for a full 40 years. Gingrich used that Conservative Republican Majority and played hard ball with Bill Clinton. The government was famously shut down for a moment. But Clinton — the American Left of the day — was finally defeated for a breath or two on the tax and spending issue.
Newt Gingrich had done exactly what Reagan did — stick to principle. Defeat the other side — do not accommodate the other side. Why? Because to do so, to play the moderate game, always always always results in the expansion of government and more money down the debt rat hole.
Or, as Grover Norquist said in challenging Jeb Bush:
“He doesn’t understand — he’s just agreed to walk down the same alley his dad did with the same gang. And he thinks he’s smart. You walk down that alley, you don’t come out. You certainly don’t come out with 2:1 or 10:1.”
Our friend Grover is spot on. Jeb Bush is wrong, dead wrong. Today’s GOP, as Grover says, is in fact the party of “bold colors” that Ronald Reagan envisioned.
It meets the precise definition of a conservative party that Reagan was defining when he told the New York Times in the wake of Ford’s defeat by Carter: “A political party is not a fraternal order.”
The headline of that December 15, 1976 New York Times story? It was Reagan’s response not only to the just defeated moderates led by Ford — it was a caution to future generations of Republicans whomever they might be and wherever they might surface. Republicans like — Jeb Bush. The headline read:
Reagan Urges His Party To Save Itself By Declaring Its Conservative Beliefs
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.
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