Everybody's Got One
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Sunday, June 20, 2004


(I guess I'm writing something about Reagan after all.)

During the funeral last month (all Reagan, all the time) I found myself explaining to friends that the wall-to-wall coverage wasn't simply Karl Rove's latest media ploy to ensure Bush's re-election – well, not primarily – but a reflection of the fact that Reagan is the Republican's FDR. The perceived loss was real, and substantial.

[Drawing out the parallels, perhaps more than is supportable: Lincoln is the Republican Jefferson; TR, their Andy Jackson. The GOP's JFK ... hasn't happened yet. But he will. History rhymes.]

It wasn't just that he won the Cold War. He did – planting the seeds for the next one in the process. (The amount of help he got from the other side of the aisle - and the Wall - will make for lucrative rounds of revisionism for years to come.) And it wasn't just that he transformed a defeated economy – WWII ended the Depression, and Paul Volcker ended inflation, but Presidents always get the credit (or blame). The most important thing – like FDR – was to restore confidence.

David Warren:
He took the leadership of a nation in catastrophic retreat, turned in upon itself, after self-imposed defeat in Vietnam, and setbacks ranging from Watergate to the oil shocks to the demoralizing effects of such court judgments as Roe v. Wade. All the classic indications of decadence were advancing: the disintegration of Church and family; urban crime gone out of control; mushrooming taxation, regulation, and bureaucracy.

The Soviet sphere of influence was expanding. The U.S. had been freshly humiliated by the mad mullahs of Iran; was powerless against the invasion of Afghanistan, and Soviet-sponsored insurgencies from Ethiopia to Angola to Nicaragua. The NATO alliance was beginning to crack under the threat of medium-range Soviet missile deployments against an increasingly spineless Europe. As a cold warrior myself, I remember the situation vividly. The parade of defeatism and morbid self-blame was trumpet-majored by the prim and incompetent Jimmy Carter. ...
It's become commonplace to say that FDR saved capitalism from its own excesses. Someday we may say Reagan saved liberalism from itself.

posted by Kelly | 3:37 PM link