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Santorum’s Moment: The Reagan Library Debate

The candidate taking on Ron Paul's assault on the Reagan legacy.

By 9.7.11

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"Why is an alliance between conservatives and libertarians inconceivable? Why, indeed, would such articles of confederation undo whatever gains conservatives have made in this United States? Because genuine libertarians are mad -- metaphysically mad. Lunacy repels, and political lunacy especially. I do not mean that they are dangerous; they are repellent merely, like certain unfortunate inmates of 'mental homes.'…. At the Last Judgment, libertarianism may find itself reduced to a minority of one, and its name will be not Legion, but Roth bard." -- Russell Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind on the ideas of Ron Paul's "very important intellectual influence" Murray Rothbard

Well.

As Ronald Reagan used to say, a twinkle in his eye.

As the nation awaits the next Republican presidential debate, this one tonight at the Reagan Library in California, a decided conservative drama is set to play itself out on the stage of the presidential library honoring the president who won the Cold War. 

That president would be, of course, Ronald Reagan. The very same president who has come under sharp attack from the GOP presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul and his supporters.

A while back in this space we took a look at the doings surrounding the Ron Paul campaign. Among the… ahhh… numerous… responses was this one over at YouTube from Ron Paul supporter Tom Woods, about whom more can be found here. (Be warned, the Woods video -- which begins as an attack on The American Spectator and your humble correspondent truly gets…promise….much more interesting. But because it runs over 16 minutes we will cut to the chase, inserting at appropriate moments the timing of various Woods attacks as mentioned so readers can cut through what they see as fluff. Besides, who wants to hear Tom Woods launch on a writer… who will respond in an appropriate blog post that is not this article?)

On the eve of tonight's Reagan Library debate it should be noted that Woods has in fact quite helpfully raised an issue that is at the heart of the Ron Paul campaign.

An issue that former Senator Rick Santorum, alone among the GOP presidential candidates, has tackled head-on.

And perhaps here I should stipulate that Woods and I agree on one thing. I have in fact met Ron Paul and Tom Woods is absolutely correct: Congressman Paul is "an obviously kindly man." No disagreement there.

But that, of course, is not at issue. What's being discussed are Ron Paul's views, and, befitting any and all presidential candidates, anything and everything politically connected with that candidate is under discussion. As the Woods video makes crystal clear, the preeminent goal of Ron Paul and his enthusiasts like Tom Woods is as much "lunacy," to quote Kirk, as it is determined.

As he takes to the stage tonight at Ronald Reagan's library, Ron Paul will be spending his time trying to lead an intellectual coup d'état of the movement of which Ronald Reagan was once the undisputed leader: the American conservative movement. To re-make that movement into the long dispatched idea of something half-Right and half-Far Left.

In effect, while Paul will be on stage tonight at the Reagan Library nominally engaged in a debate with Santorum and the other contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, his real target -- as Woods' YouTube video more than effectively demonstrates -- will be Ronald Reagan himself.

This was predicted in the fall of 1981, mere months after Reagan took office. By the great conservative intellectual Mr. Kirk, who warned in a Modern Age article titled "Libertarians: the Chirping Sectaries":

Doubtless the libertarians, long accustomed to skulking in the Cave of Adullam, soon will be calling Mr. Reagan a socialist.… Adversity sometimes makes strange bedfellows, but the present success of conservatives disinclines them to lie down, lamblike, with the libertarian hyenas.

Russell Kirk was right. Ronald Reagan is no hero to Ron Paul, as Paul has made plain.

For those who have arrived late to all of this (and by this I mean the modern conservative movement), the Woods video is a veritable Rosetta Stone that helps provide not simply a crystal-clear understanding of what Ron Paul is about but what others -- Mr. Woods and a smallish but loud clique of "hyenas" (Kirk's words, not mine) -- are really up to.

So buckle in to the conservative time machine as we go back to the conservative future that never was.

Notice that early on in his video (4:19) Mr. Woods indignantly says that "non-interventionists were the conservatives" in American history. He begins listing prominent conservatives… Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, Felix Morley, Robert Nisbet. Later, he goes out of his way to identify Murray Rothbard (9:53) as a "very important intellectual influence on Ron Paul." At another point, (13:08), responding to my noting that William F. Buckley, Jr. has been a target of Paulists, Woods contemptuously dismisses Buckley by sneering: "You can't criticize Bill Buckley? A magazine editor? You can't criticize him?" What kind of "bizarre pantheon of the Gods" is this, Woods asks, in scornful response to my listing of other prominent Paulist conservative targets in addition to Reagan. (Those would be Antonin Scalia, Sarah Palin, Edwin Meese, Charles and David Koch, Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.)

Stop the tape. Translation time.

Once upon a time, long after Edmund Burke had departed with his founding conservative soul, in the primordial mists of post-World War II, the modern conservative movement in America began to take shape. And as it did, into the middle of tangy arguments over the liberty and ordering of American life, what quickly became known as the Cold War erupted. Communism and the global threat it represented was on the march.

Or was it? 

In today's world the battle against Communism is almost exclusively identified with conservatism. From the fight to expose the State Department Soviet spy Alger Hiss to the Joe McCarthy-era to Barry Goldwater's fervent belief that Communism presented a "clear and imminent danger" for which "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" and on down the decades to Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall, no one familiar with American politics associates the American Right with anything as much as an unrelentingly serious effort to defeat Communism. The philosophy behind the conservative approach to aggressors was summed up in the 1960s by Goldwater and L. Brent Bozell: "… the Communists' aim is to conquer the world… If an enemy power is bent on conquering you, and proposes to turn all of his resources to that end, he is at war with you: and you -- unless you contemplate surrender -- are at war with him."

But this belief in the conservative world wasn't always so.

Fighting the Communist "menace" (as it was frequently called in the day) in fact was not always the belief at the heart of the conservative movement. And therein hangs the real meaning of the Ron Paul campaign and on a lesser scale the Tom Woods video. And as the candidates take the stage tonight in the library that commemorates Reagan's life and historic presidency, it is just the moment to examine the Woods video for the anti-Reagan message that is at its core. An anti-Reagan message that thus far only Senator Santorum seems to grasp.

In wonderfully Rosetta Stone style, Mr. Woods drops two particular names in his video. He leaves out another name altogether. And scorns a fourth. All four names can usefully serve to illustrate the heart of the conservative challenge in those formative post-World War II mists.

That first name? The name Woods so conspicuously and favorably drops? Felix Morley. It is no coincidence that in his book Revolution: A Manifesto,

Congressman Paul mentions Morley favorably as well.

Who was Felix Morley? He was, to borrow a phrase, one of the Founding Fathers of the American conservative movement as it was then aborning. Congressman Paul identifies Morley as "one of the founders of Human Events, the oldest conservative weekly in America." Mr. Woods describes Morley thusly in his video:

Felix Morley was one of the founders of Human Events newspaper, was a non-interventionist. Human Events is one of the most important conservative newspapers, well, basically ever. 

Is this true? Yes -- and decidedly deceptive on the part of both Paul and Woods.

Yes, Felix Morley was one of the founders of Human Events. And yes, indeed, Woods is more than correct to say that Human Events is one of the most important conservative newspapers "well, basically, ever." All true. What Paul and Woods cleverly do not say is why this particular conservative paper became one of the most important conservative publications "well, basically ever." Much less do they discuss the historic connection between Human Events and Ronald Reagan.

There's much more to the story of Felix Morley and Human Events, and tellingly, neither Paul in his book nor Woods in his video is about to explain it to you. And there is much more to the story of Murray Rothbard, the man Woods identifies as a "very important intellectual influence" on Paul. And once again, neither Paul in his book nor Woods in his video will explain to you the rest of the story about Rothbard that eventually caused Russell Kirk to devote an entire essay labeling Rothbard and his views -- now the very heart of the Paul campaign -- as "mad" "lunacy" and more appropriate to "inmates of 'mental homes."

Since Mr. Woods won't tell you the story, I will.

Human Events, as Reagan White House staffers well knew, was one of the President's favorite reads. He loved to read it, had been reading it for decades and -- something to remember as this evening's debate at Reagan's library unfolds -- credited the paper with helping to educate him as a conservative. In fact, the paper was such a Reagan favorite that the moderates on the White House staff -- this would be then-White House Chief of Staff Jim Baker, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, and Baker deputy Dick Darman -- became annoyed at the straight-from-Human Events-conservatism the President was constantly inhaling in his reading. Reason? In typical Reagan style the President would clip articles from the paper and pass them along to this or that Cabinet member or staffer, who, having received them directly from the President of the United States, would in some manner follow up. In particular, Human Events frequently published articles about the then-exotic idea of a nuclear space shield -- "space lasers" the paper called them -- as the imaginative ultimate arrow in the American national security quiver. Reagan, a regular reader, took note.

This appalled Baker/Deaver/Darman. Quietly they made certain Reagan stopped getting the paper in his packet of evening reading and presidential "homework" that went upstairs nightly with Reagan after he left the Oval Office for the day. Reagan, no dummy, realized what had happened when Human Events stopped showing up in his reading -- promptly ordering multiple subscriptions for the White House. And, as if to underline the point, personally throwing the conservative paper a 40th anniversary reception in the East Room.

There's more.

The American notes for the famous Reykjavik summit between Reagan and Gorbachev, as reported by Reagan biographer Richard Reeves in President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination, show Reagan citing Human Events by name to the Soviet leader as Gorbachev presses Reagan to give up his commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (or Star Wars, as his left-wing opponents called it). Reagan stubbornly held on to SDI -- the quite real policy result of his reading all those Human Events articles on defensive "space lasers." The notes from the Reykjavik summit report the President saying to Gorbachev that his (Reagan's) friends at Human Events were already "kicking my brains out" at the thought the President might give in by trading away SDI. He didn't. When Gorbachev insisted that Reagan agree only to laboratory experimentation with SDI, effectively killing the program, or it was "goodbye" -- Reagan dramatically gathered his papers, stood up -- and walked out of the Summit. As history now records, it was this steely Reagan resolve on "Star Wars" that is credited by historians as helping to bring the Soviet Union itself crashing down onto what Reagan predicted would be "the ash heap of history."

That small morsel of fact about Ronald Reagan, his love for Human Events and the impact the paper had in the demise of the Soviet Union is actually very important to understand as tonight's Reagan Library debate unfolds. Why? Precisely because it is an example of just why Congressman Paul's and Mr. Woods' description of Felix Morley and Human Events is so deceptive. The reason the two men are so disingenuous in their story-telling goes straight to the heart of exactly what Ronald Reagan was reading when he ordered up his first subscription of Human Events in 1961, long before anyone, Reagan included, thought he would be anything other than a Hollywood actor. And it also goes to the heart of Rick Santorum's direct criticisms of Ron Paul. Criticism that has drawn Tom Woods' attention towards Santorum, who is briefly mentioned (10:26) in Woods' video.

Felix Morley left Human Events. In 1950 -- six years after its founding in 1944. Out. Gone, hasta la vista. Why? Let's rely on historian George Nash's description in The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America: Since 1945.

Felix Morley left Human Events precisely because he had a serious disagreement with his colleagues, one of whom, co-editor Frank Hanighen, said (according to Morley himself as quoted by Nash) that Morley was "tending to be 'soft on Communism.'" Said Morley years later: there was a "cleavage" in the conservative movement between what Morley described as "a generally pacific, even isolated, America and an actively interventionist America."

In short, just as America was facing the terrifying dawn of the Cold War, as Stalin tested nuclear bombs created from stolen U.S. secrets, blockaded Berlin, with Greece, Turkey and South Korea under Communist siege and Winston Churchill (the leader of the Conservative Party in Britain, it shouldn't need to be said) warning that a Communist "Iron Curtain" was descending over Eastern Europe -- the fledgling American conservative movement was undecided.

So: what to do?

In 1947 James Burnham, a New York University philosophy professor and ex-Communist himself -- the latter experience changing his life and turning him into both a formidable Communist foe and a passionate conservative -- had written a book called The Struggle for the World. According to Alfred S. Regnery in Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism, Burnham argued that

… a third world war, one against Communism, had started even before World War II ended. Burnham argued that international Communism, headquartered in Soviet Russia, was bent on world conquest and was therefore a threat to the cherished values of the free world, particularly those of the West. The struggle between Communism and the West, between slavery and freedom, was inescapably a struggle to the death.… To counter this peril, Burnham believed, America must assume leadership of the non-Communist world…. But Burnham doubted the resolve of the American people and its political elite, being young and naïve, to carry out a consistent, successful anti-Communist foreign policy.

The Burnham book was a bombshell inside -- and outside -- the conservative movement. And in his video, Mr. Woods curiously never mentions Burnham's name once. A decided peculiarity. Why is this? After all, in his recitation of conservative names from this period Woods goes out of his way to mention and praise Felix Morley and Murray Rothbard. Why leave out Morley and Rothbard's equally prominent fellow Founding Conservative Burnham? Why, for that matter, leave out the impact of Whittaker Chambers, the conservative hero of the Alger Hiss affair?

Felix Morley -- and he was not alone -- opposed directly confronting the Communists. Morley did not want Human Events to be advocating anything that remotely smacked of taking on the Soviet Union. Morley even went off to Europe, where the Cold War was heating up almost hourly, only to come back saying he had "doubts about the value of the Cold War." His solution? Morley wanted full editorial control of Human Events. His goal? To have the conservative paper push exactly what Burnham was saying was the wrong thing to do: advocate for a less confrontational line with the Communists.

In what can easily now be seen as a seminal event for the conservative movement and indeed for Ronald Reagan and America, Morley's partners at Human Events said no.

And so -- what Congressman Paul doesn't say in his book, what Tom Woods doesn't say in his video and is apparently if understandably afraid to even acknowledge -- Felix Morley quit Human Events.

The paper went on without him, rejecting the Morley worldview while enthusiastically embracing the ideas of Burnham (not to mention Alger Hiss accuser Whittaker Chambers) to emerge as one of the strongest conservative, anti-Communist voices in America. And in 1961, eleven years after Morley's departure, actor Ronald Reagan took out his first subscription. Getting, as he freely said decades later, an education in conservatism and staunch anti-Communism from a conservative paper that never adopted the worldview of Felix Morley. A fact curiously absent from the Woods video.

This was not the only momentous fight over the direction of conservatism with regard to foreign policy. The fissures inside the movement over how to deal with the Communists built and built. Murray Rothbard in particular was vehement in his opposition to taking on the Communists. Drawing from Human Events co-founder William Henry Chamberlin the sharp charge of "appeasement."

Appeasement.

It was the not-so-coincidental charge anti-Communist conservatives had already leveled at the far left Henry Wallace in 1948. (And with reason -- Wallace was well on record urging Truman to consider "appeasement" in his dealings with Stalin.) How odd, no? A man Ron Paul sees as his intellectual Godfather accused way back in the early 1950s by a founder of Human Events of "appeasement" -- the very same charge that is being suggested of Ron Paul's views on dealing with Islamic fundamentalism today. Needless to say, William Henry Chamberlin, as a founder of Human Events a member in good standing of the Original Right, is ignored by both Paul and in the Tom Woods video. So too is the fact that both leftist Henry Wallace and Rothbard were accused by conservatives of exactly the same thing -- appeasement -- for exactly the same reason.

And just who became, in George Nash's description, the very "personification of the conflicting strands of conservative thought"? Meaning, to put names and faces on it, the "conflicting strands" that were the Morley/Rothbard view and the Burnham view?

That's right. The young blossoming conservative star -- and Ronald Reagan's future close friend and ally -- William F. Buckley, Jr.

Bill Buckley, a name Woods does mention -- with scorn.

Once a staunch non-interventionist, before the war Buckley had been an "enthusiastic" supporter of the isolationist America First Committee, the intellectually precocious 15-year-old Buckley attending a pre-war rally held by the group. Buckley, through his family, also knew conservative thinkers like Albert Jay Nock who, like Morley, was opposed to the idea of interventionism. Buckley had once agreed. But now… now… watching Stalin, hearing Churchill, absorbing the reality of a nuclear-armed Soviet state, the Soviet blockade of Berlin, the discovery of the Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the very breast of the American government, the Communist charge to take over Greece and threaten Turkey, the invasion of South Korea plus the disappearance of Eastern Europe and who knew what else down the road into the maws of the insatiable Communist beast, the young Buckley… hedged.

In 1952, a year after his first book God and Man at Yale had exploded onto the scene and made the young conservative author famous, Buckley wrote an election article, his unmade-up mind on display. The first part discussed his antipathy to "the Leviathan State" in almost Nockian terms -- but the second part? The second part focused on what Buckley was coming to see as the "menace to our freedom" that was "the thus far invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union."

Over the next few years there were more and more fights between conservatives over this issue of how to face what Burnham and increasingly Buckley were certain was a serious threat to American vital interests. Buckley termed these fights as quarrels between "liberation or interventionist conservatives" (meaning those who wanted to "liberate" or "intervene" in the fight against Communism) and "containment conservatives" (those who, like Felix Morley, simply thought the whole affair none of America's business). The fights were, intellectually speaking, knock-down drag-outs. The most famous names in the conservative slice of America (a decidedly tiny if increasingly potent slice at that point) were slugging it out for all they were worth.

What happened?

Burnham, Regnery writes, became "probably the single most influential philosophical architect of the conservative anti-Communist movement, which enlisted millions of foot soldiers…." And one of those conservatives Burnham influenced was: William F. Buckley. In the words of George Nash: "The anti-Communists had won the mind of Buckley and the great bulk of the Right." When Buckley founded National Review, it was Burnham at his side as a new senior editor, writing a regular column on national security issues, always with the fight against Communism as its theme. Rothbard, on board with Buckley in the world of economics and initially an NR colleague who worked on the economics section of a Buckley book, Up From Liberalism, was not in agreement on foreign affairs. And as with Morley and Human Events, Rothbard too would have a parting of the ways over Communism with Buckley and National Review.

As with Felix Morley's lost battle at Human Events and Murray Rothbard's lost battle with Bill Buckley and National Review, in what would become one of the seminal events of American history -- the course of the conservative movement was set. Agreeing overwhelmingly with Burnham's anti-Communism analysis, not to mention the overwhelming sentiment of the American people, both Human Events and National Review would take a tough, hardline stance against Soviet aggression -- and demand protection for what it saw as America's vital national security interests. When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, it wasn't, in a very real sense, just Ronald Reagan who won the Cold War. It was the conservative movement -- led by people like James Burnham and William F. Buckley and the editors of the Morley-less Human Events -- that had shaped the primary conservative response of actively opposing Communism. Economically -- and when needed -- militarily. To simplify: Reagan's phrase "Peace Through Strength." Or, as Nash describes it, those who exemplified "the Taft-conservative language of national interest."

Eventually, it became fashionable to label Morley's kind of thinking as "Paleo-conservative," a term conjured by Murray Rothbard doubtless out of sheer self-defense. Rothbard, the intellectual force so admired by Ron Paul, is perhaps the father of the half-horse, half-man political thinking that is thoroughly leftist on foreign policy issues while championing solid conservative economic theory. Again, in another clever deception, both Paul and Woods emphasize Rothbard's connections to the Austrian School of Economics, as if to imply that Reagan and the conservative movement Paul has repeatedly lashed at were and are somehow opposed to the Austrian School of free-market economics. This is flatly, laughably untrue.

From Reagan and the late "supply-sider" Jack Kemp to current presidential candidate Congresswoman Michele Bachman, all and many more have been strong supporters of the Austrian School and specifically Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, the latter a guest of Reagan's at the White House. Indeed, it is safe to say the Austrian School was a key building block of Reaganomics. Even President George H.W. Bush, no conservative, awarded Hayek the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But Rothbard was one of those who, Austrian School or not, developed quite the taste for leftist foreign policy that Ron Paul, every bit the Rothbard disciple Tom Woods correctly claims, so admires. And Russell Kirk wasn't the only one who thought Rothbard's thinking "lunacy" and "mad." William F. Buckley, typically, was unafraid to discuss Rothbard's leftist leanings, making his point in Rothbard's obituary. 

Murray Rothbard had defective judgment. It pains even to recall it, but in 1959 when Khrushchev arrived in New York, with much of America stunned by the visit of the butcher of Budapest -- the Soviet protégé of Stalin who was threatening a world war over Berlin -- Rothbard physically applauded Khrushchev in his limousine as it passed by on the street. He gave as his reason for this that, after all, Khrushchev had killed fewer people than General Eisenhower, his host.

While Reagan famously considered the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and focused U.S. foreign policy on the idea of "we win, they lose" -- Rothbard, accused by his conservative Founding Father peers of appeasing Communists and later applauding the bloodthirsty Soviet dictator of the day -- had another view. In the heated debate among conservatives in the early 1950s, says Nash, Rothbard "denied that the Soviet Union posed any immediate military threat to the United States. The United States had not been attacked, said Rothbard." On another occasion, Rothbard, said:

"The United States was solely at fault in the Cold War, and Russia was the aggrieved party."

Rothbard (hmmmmm) would later join forces with the leftist Students for a Democratic Society -- home to leftists Tom Hayden (once married to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda), and the man Sean Hannity (another Woods video target) calls the "unrepentant terrorist" -- Obama friend and supporter the SDS/Weatherman leader Bill Ayers.

Nice company for a "conservative." Interesting to understand as the man who is the "very important intellectual influence" on Ron Paul per Tom Woods. As Buckley would also say, Rothbard's romance with the violently inclined SDS was a decided sign of a man who "couldn't handle moral priorities."

Which brings us back to Tom Woods' video and the larger issue of the Ron Paul campaign as Paul, Santorum and the rest of the GOP field hold their debate this evening at Reagan's Library.

The real reason Tom Woods disdains Bill Buckley as just "a magazine editor" is that Tom Woods, Ron Paul, and his followers are trying to remake today's conservative movement -- and America -- in the image of Felix Morley and Murray Rothbard. Conservative on economics -- far left on foreign policy. In other words, to adopt what Russell Kirk specifically warned was the policy of the "mad," the policy of "lunacy," the policy of "inmates of 'mental homes.'"

And to the great inconvenience of Paul and Woods, the shadow of Ronald Reagan looms over all of this.

This is why the people around Ron Paul so anxiously quote Ronald Reagan on Ron Paul -- from 1976. Reagan had long ago praised the man who was then a leading player in Reagan's Texas campaign against Gerald Ford. Here's the quote:

Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country.

But by 1988 -- Reagan's last year in office -- Ron Paul, then running for president as the Libertarian Party presidential candidate -- was making plain his opposition to Reagan. Reagan wasn't a conservative at all, he was saying to his campaign audiences as documented by fellow Libertarian and Indian activist Russell Means in Means' autobiography. Means adds that he agreed with Ron Paul -- and thought Ronald Reagan a fascist.

Indeed, the Los Angeles Times reported on May 10, 1988, that Paul was so flatly opposed to Reagan that he had said -- in uncanny realization of Kirk's long ago 1981 prediction:

"I want to totally disassociate myself from the Reagan Administration."

Will Ron Paul repeat that statement tonight as he stands on the stage of the Reagan Library?

Thus far, only one fellow Republican presidential candidate, Senator Santorum, has picked up on the implications of what Paul is trying to do. It is Santorum who has made a point of taking on Paul's Rothbardian and distinctly anti-Reagan foreign policy that merely substitutes radical Islamic fundamentalism for Rothbard's belief that Communism was not a threat to the United States and that, in fact, the epic decades-long confrontation with Communism was the fault of the United States. Now it's not the Cold War that is America's fault, it's Islamic radicalism.

Here's Paul updating and channeling Rothbard just days ago in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register:

Texas Rep. Ron Paul says that U.S. intervention in the Middle East is a main motivation behind terrorist hostilities toward America, and that Islam is not a threat to the nation.

Santorum understood exactly what he was hearing from Ron Paul. A Politico report of his sharp reaction shows Santorum not only understanding that Paul's foreign policy views are fundamentally leftist and Rothbardian, they are at their core a continuation of Paul's repeated rejection of Ronald Reagan.

The drama tonight?

Will Ron Paul defend his anti-Reagan views plain and simple tonight? Will he discuss his attacks on President Reagan made in his letter resigning from the Republican Party in 1987? An attack reprinted here? Will he agree with his friend and supporter Tom Woods, who claims Reagan has been placed in this "bizarre pantheon of the Gods"? Tonight would be the moment to speak up.

Will Congressman Paul 'fess up to his repeated attacks on the Gipper -- on the stage of the Reagan Library? Will he support Tom Woods and say that Murray Rothbard -- who wrote that Ronald Reagan was a "cretin," and that Reagan's two-terms in office were "eight dreary, miserable, mind-numbing years" -- is in fact a " very important intellectual influence" on the views of Ron Paul? Does Congressman Paul agree with Rothbard that Reagan was a "cretin" and the Reagan Library is nothing more than a warehouse reminding Americans of "eight dreary, miserable, mind-numbing years"?

Will Congressman Paul have the courage to step up to the plate and say these things on the stage of a Library devoted, as most conservatives see it, to one man's now-legendary struggle and triumph in defeating the "evil empire"? A Library devoted to relentlessly opposing the "mad… lunacy" (in Kirk's phrase) in the ideas behind Paul hero Murray Rothbard? A Library where part of the Berlin Wall now rests, the Wall originally erected at the direction of the very Nikita Khrushchev whom Rothbard applauded because he saw Khrushchev as the moral superior of Dwight Eisenhower?

The stage is set tonight for live coverage of an ongoing battle between Ron Paul and the man he long ago spurned: Ronald Reagan.

Stay tuned.

And keep your eye on Rick Santorum.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.