(all bolding is mine)
Like running to a dusty old playbook, liberals in the media hailed President Barack Obama’s speech as “Reaganesque.” Media Research Center’s Newsbusters has quite the compilation of anchors fawning over Mr. Obama and the President’s so-called ability to capture President Ronald Reagan’s style of communication. In fact, Christiane Amanpour exclaimed that President Reagan would consider today’s Tea Party “too extreme.”
It’s no secret that newscasters are happily hoping that President Obama can snooker Americans with his faux admiration of Reagan again, like he did in 2008, and bring back independents into the Democratic fold that he lost in the past two years.
During the 2008 Democratic primary Mr. Obama and then Senator Hillary Clinton clashed over what Ms. Clinton called Mr. Obama’s ”positive” remarks about Reagan. When challenged about his Reagan comments by Sen. Clinton, Mr. Obama, hedged and backtracked about what he said and what he really meant (via NPR):
During the debate, Obama clarified his statement, noting that “Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda - an agenda that I objected to.”
Since when did liberals get so cheery about President Reagan’s legacy? In a 2010 L.A. Times piece about liberal nostalgia for Bill Buckley, Jonah Goldberg correctly describes the liberal notion that the only good conservatives liberals should ever admire are the dead ones:
The best conservatives are always dead; the worst are always alive and influential. When Buckley and Kristol, not to mention Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, were alive, they were hated and vilified by the same sorts of people who now claim to miss the old gang. The gold standard of the dead is always a cudgel, used to beat back the living.
Even when it became officially known that President Reagan was suffereing from Alzheimers disease, the liberal press began talking about the Gipper’s so-called “liberal legacy.”
President Reagan’s liberal activist son, Ron Reagan Jr., recently told ABC News he believed his dad would be “disappointed” by the “vitriol” being directed at the White House:
“Well I think, like a lot of Americans now, he would be upset by the [political divisiveness]. He was a very civil man. He was a gentleman always. The atmosphere when he was president was not what it is today, and I think he would be deeply disappointed by some of the vitriol that we’ve seen particularly directed at the White House”
President Reagan’s son seems to think that the 1980’s potshots taken at his dad seemed tantamount to nothing compared to the criticism President Obama receives today. The Washington Times editorial page has an October 2010 piece about liberals’ hate and so-called present love for Ronald Reagan.
Here are a number of excerpts from publications critical of President Reagan during the 1980’s. It is difficult to see how political vitriol towards President Reagan was not so bad:
November 3, 1984 - The Nation
by Roger Wilkins
Southern politicians used to promise their redneck constituents that they would “keep the n*****s in their place,” and when elected, they proceeded to do just that. It has been reported that after losing an early election to just such a politician, George Wallace vowed never to be “outn*****ed” again. Well, it is clear that Ronald Reagan is not going to be “outcolored.”
May 24, 1986 - The Nation
The evil of banality. (George Shultz, U.S. bombing of Libya )
by Alex Cockburn
It is curious that George Shultz, whose pin-striped person conveys the very essence of dour banality, should have turned out to be the most rabid, indeed demented, of the entire Reagan gang.
June 14, 1986 - The Nation
Minority report. (Vietnam War, Watergate)
by Christopher Hitchens
Ronald Wilson Reagan knows a thousand ways of being sentimental, hypocritical and cheap.
September 28, 1985 - The Nation
by Christopher Hitchens
Over the past few weeks, while the President has been making an idiot of himself yet again on the issue, the Botha lobby has been fighting back. It has been meeting in the White House itself, in the office of Patrick Buchanan. Buchanan, who tried unsuccessfully to become Ambassador to South Africa after the collapse of his boss Richard Nixon, has been hosting and mobilizing the ultraright and making war on Republican waverers. Attenders of his meetings were drawn from the Heritage Foundation, the Conservative Caucus and the usual bunch of big-mouth, God-bothering fund-raisers.
February 22, 1987 - Chicago Sun Times
A dinner party for Reagan bashers
by Andy Rooney
Reagan bashers know no middle ground. They don’t give an inch. Anything wrong with the world is President Reagan’s fault. Anything good that happens in his administration is luck.
“What an idiot!” is their idea of how to start a conversation about politics.
They don’t have a conciliatory bone in their bodies. They feed the birds all winter, cry during sad movies and hold the door open for elderly people, but they wouldn’t give Reagan the time of day if they owned the Timex watch company.
One recent Saturday night I was at a dinner party with nine other people, including the anonymous aforementioned, who didn’t make the bed until half an hour before we went out.
At dinner, the knockers brought the conversation around to the Iran arms sale.
“They say there are millions of dollars missing and no one knows where it went,” one guest said.
“Ha!” said the anti-Reagan person in the green dress. “I bet I know where it went. Have you seen all the new clothes Nancy’s been wearing?”
“Yeah,” said the president hater on her right. “They’re probably setting aside a little nestegg for that dog she’s always dragging around.”
“It’s a good thing we’ve got a Constitution,” someone piped up, “or this guy would declare himself king.”
These people took more pleasure out of hating the president that Saturday night than from their dinner. They often put forth their most creative work devising ways to dislike him.
“I think he’s out of his mind,” one of them said. “I really do.”
“It’s Alzheimer’s. They ought to rename the disease after him.”
“That’s what I want to be when I get old and feeble-minded,” my former boss said, “president.”
“His idea of serious reading is the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated,” my constant companion complained.
“Yeah. He likes to count the pieces in the two-piece bathing suits. That’s as high as he can go.”
Every once in a while I made an attempt to come in with something laudatory.
“You have to admit,” I said, trying to stem the flow of criticism, “that the economy’s been good.”
“Carter did that,” someone said. “Reagan’s benefitting from the things Carter did.”
June 13, 1986 - Albany Times Union
Vet held in threat to ‘senile’ Reagan
by Joe Mahoney
After viewing President Reagan’s news conference on television Wednesday night, a disabled veteran phoned Albany police from a tavern, denounced Reagan as “senile” and threatened to assassinate him, authorities said Thursday.
February 3, 1987 - Chicago Sun Times
Reagan Jokes no laughing matter
by Janes Gerstenzang
But for Reagan, the current round of jokes represents a problem that is potentially no laughing matter. In response to the Iran-contras scandal, Reagan has declared he did not know all that was being done.
That explanation has laid the president open to a kind of lampooning that stirs genuine concern among his supporters because it threatens to erode his ability to govern at a time when Reagan can ill afford such damage. The new crop of jokes raises questions about whether the president is in charge of the nation’s government - or is capable of being in charge - especially in the sensitive realm of national security.
What worries some Republican advisers, said one former Reagan aide who has maintained his ties to the White House, is the possibility, reflected in the satire, that “the president now is being viewed as an amiable old man rather than as a broad-stroke president.”
“If that type of thing becomes very broad-based, that could hurt,” said Richard B. Wirthlin, a Republican pollster who regularly samples the president’s popularity and works closely with the White House.
“Clearly the president is more vulnerable to being the butt of jokes now than he was three or four months ago,” he said.
“It’s important for him to be supported by the grass roots,” said Wirthlin. “There are going to be battles with Congress and he has a better chance of winning these battles if he has that support.”
March 2, 1987 -The Boston Globe
The buck stops with her
by Mike Barnicle
Maybe you noticed that since the whole Iran mess began, Mrs. Reagan’s husband has shown the command decision instincts of a glazed donut. He sat there like a stone for months, acting like someone whose IQ equals the mean temperature of St. Petersburg, Fla., as the entire government came crashing down around his Day-glo orange hair and wax-filled ears.
March 5, 1987 -The Boston Globe
His favorite setting- in front of the cameras
by Jack Thomas
It was the president’s favorite setting — he, himself, alone with a television camera, talking directly to the American people without intrusions by aggressive reporters asking insinuating questions that sometimes confuse him.
For the rest of us, it was a 12-minute episode in what has become the familiar experience of television playing a critical role in the course of the presidency and the nation.
Having heard the president’s awkward words upon release of the Tower Commission report, and having read the columnists who have been making fun of his forgetfulness, and having seen the clips of Nancy Reagan whispering to him when he could not answer simple questions, and having been warned that she may be playing a larger role in governing the nation than perhaps the Constitution intended for the wife of a president, the American people were watching carefully last night for what conservative columnist Ben Wattenberg called “Senile-gate.”
“He has to demonstrate he has all his marbles,” said Wattenberg.
October 25, 1986 - The Nation
Reykjavik and the war economy
by Alexander Cockburn
So much for Reagan’s place in history. It’s been an axiom of those holding a kindly or evolutionary view of the President’s political consciousness that in the end a sense of responsibility to children as yet unborn and history books as yet unwritten would incline him to strike a deal with the Soviet Union on arms control. Along the road to Reykjavik almost all the pundits, editorialists and “news analysts’ had taken the same line: the President was accessible to reason. They were wrong, and those who held the steady-state view of Reagan’s political consciousness—that it was, is and always will be a shriveled affair—were right. The President did the wrong thing as he always will.
October 9, 1987 - Washington Post
`The Civil Rights Thing’
by Richard Cohen
And yet both Reagan and Bork have opposed civil rights legislation. Initially, Reagan opposed every recent civil rights act. As for Bork, he not only criticized a court decision striking down the poll tax, he also found fault with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which barred discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants and public restrooms. Bork, the intellectual, anguished over the rights of proprietors. Reagan, no intellectual, nevertheless struck the same note: even bigots “have certain constitutional rights.” Not since John Steinbeck teamed George with Lenny have two such intellectually disparate people found such common cause.
Media Research Center has a list of more attacks on Ronald Reagan here going all the way into the early 90’s. Perhaps what liberals are missing here is that Reagan, unlike President Obama, was not thin-skinned or defensive about what critics said about him…at least not publicly; however, he knew which newspaper editorial pages counted and which ones did not. Pat Buchanan, who served as President Reagan’s communications director, put it this way: (H/T Human Events):
Frankly, Reagan was more concerned about what you guys said at HUMAN EVENTS and what they said in the Washington Times, than what they said in the New York Times.