You’ve all heard it before on how Ronald Reagan would fail to pass the conservative purity test required to be a card carrying member of today’s Republican Loony Party. There is little chance that Reagan’s brand of conservatism could win a primary against a teabagging opponent. And yet, conservatives, delusional as ever, still view Reagan as the consummate Republican.
As the Republican convention gets under way, it’s been estimated that Reagan’s name will be repeated no less than a gazillion times over the next few days…which is a good enough reason to revisit the Reagan record.
Ronald Reagan remains the modern Republican Party’s most durable hero. His memory will be hailed as The Great Uncompromiser by those who insist the GOP must never flag in its support for smaller government, lower taxes and conservative social values.
His record tells a different story.
During Reagan’s eight years in the White House, the federal payroll grew by more than 300,000 workers. Although he was a net tax cutter who slashed individual income-tax rates, Reagan raised taxes about a dozen times.
His rhetoric matched that of many of today’s most ardent Christian conservatives, yet he proved to be a reluctant warrior on abortion and other social issues. Perhaps most tellingly, he was willing to cut deals, working closely with Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts to overhaul Social Security and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois to revamp the tax code.
Those are the indisputable facts but conservatives like Jim DeMint remain in denial over the Reagan record.
“That’s nonsense,” says the South Carolina Republican and hero of the Tea Party movement.
And for those who bow at the altar of Saint Ronny…well, their prayers have been answered.
“He reminds us of Ronald Reagan,” Nancy Milholland, co-organizer of the Tea Party chapter in Racine, Wisconsin, said of [Paul] Ryan. “He’s like the second coming of Reagan. It’s like he’s channeling Ronald Reagan. He even looks like Reagan.”
Okaaaaay…if you say so.
(The Ronald Reagan source image is in the public domain.)