“God, this is impressive,” said Steven Weisman, a New York Times political reporter, as he watched the nation mourn Ronald Reagan in 2004. “But the man they’re talking about is not the President I covered every day.” One might say the same about the media’s sudden respect for Ronald Reagan as a supposed liberal Republican. That isn’t the Reagan Weisman covered either.
In the 1980s, the media frequently cast Reagan as a crude right-winger. Today, it gushes about him as the model moderate Republican. Expect one of the moderators at tonight’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to hit the candidates with some version of the question: Why aren’t you as liberal as Reagan?
During his presidency, the media called him extreme and stubborn. Now he is “pragmatic” and had a “knack for compromise,” as a recent Washington Post headline put it.