Well, there they go again. While criticizing the new Republican budget plan on Tuesday, President Obama invoked the Gipper. "Ronald Reagan," he said, "who, as I recall, was not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control - that for him to make a deal - he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases."
Liberals have been trying to co-opt Reagan's memory ever since they stopped denouncing him as a dangerous right-wing kook. In 2009, Democratic consultant Bob Shrum wrote of Reagan's first inaugural speech that he seemed "less like today's Republicans than like Barack Obama declaring: 'Yes, we can.' " Were Mr. Reagan on the political scene today, he would be shaking his head with a smile and saying "Oh no, you don't."
Ronald Reagan "could not get through a Republican primary today," Mr. Obama declared. Back in the day, liberals said Dutch was to the right of Attila the Hun. Everything he did was described as radical - radical budget cuts, radical defense buildup, radical tax reductions. His policies were so radical they worked. In the first quarter of 1984, the economy grew 7.4 percent, and leftist critics fretted about an "overheating" economy. That's hardly a concern with Obamanomics.
Mr. Obama denounced the new Republican budget as "thinly veiled social Darwinism." Mr. Reagan also was familiar with that left-wing smear. In 1982, the New Republic ran a story headlined "Social Darwinism, Reagan Style." The cover showed the Gipper "evolving" from a knuckle-dragging simian to an upright human. The article suggested that Herbert Spencer's writings "colored Ronald Reagan's own instinctive ideology." This became a popular theme in the 1984 election season. In his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo accused Reagan of practicing divisive "social Darwinism." Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale combined the two themes, saying that Mr. Reagan was "not a conservative but a radical" who was leading the nation toward "social Darwinism."
Mr. Obama badgers reporters to call him a centrist, brags that he is the living embodiment of American exceptionalism, and hijacks the concept of patriotism as a way of telling those who disagree with him to shut up. In addition to Reagan, Mr. Obama reportedly tried to associate himself with five other Republican presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to George W. Bush. Yet the country feels as if it is back in the days of Jimmy Carter, and the White House is cribbing talking points from Mr. Mondale.
Mr. Obama would do well not to encourage people to compare him to Reagan. At the end of the day, Reagan was the man who made big government a bad word, while Mr. Obama has made big government a bad dream. Reagan gave us morning in America, Mr. Obama has us mourning for America. When the Gipper said America's best days were still ahead of it, the disastrous Obama presidency definitely was not what he had in mind.
The Washington Times
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