- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 11, 2010

It has escalated into a family feud with little chance of detente: The sons of former President Ronald Reagan are squabbling over the intellectual legacy of their father.

Would Mr. Reagan have approved of the “tea party” movement with its professed love of liberty, low taxes and small government? What would he have thought of Sarah Palin?

Liberal commentator Ron Reagan and his elder brother Michael Reagan, a conservative talk radio host, cannot agree on the answers.

During a recent appearance on a CNN talk show, the younger Mr. Reagan suggested that the “Gipper” might have looked askance at the tea party movement, which began almost a year ago during a series of spirited anti-tax rallies in several cities.

“Oh, I think he would be unamused by the tea partiers with their Hitler signs and all the rest of it,” Mr. Reagan told host Joy Behar. “No, I don’t think he’d be cottoning to that much at all.”

He added that the Republican Party was a “true train wreck,” citing Mrs. Palin and Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts as examples of the GOP’s demise.

“She doesn’t have a thought in her head,” Mr. Reagan said of the former Alaska governor.

Michael Reagan countered on Wednesday, saying he “strongly” disagrees with his sibling.

“President Reagan championed freedom throughout the world. He believed in the power of the people. His fundamental core beliefs about individual freedoms and liberties, and against government intrusion into the lives of citizens, were foremost on his agenda,” he said.

“I believe he would embrace the tea party movement, if he were alive today, and support the work of Sarah Palin, Scott Brown and others who espouse conservative principles, who are opening up the eyes of the public to what is happening to our nation,” Mr. Reagan said.

He cited the “involvement” of the tea party movement in steering the political discourse about health care reform and lauded the grass-roots appeal of Mrs. Palin and the tenacity of Mr. Brown in winning the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, considered a lock to remain in Democratic hands.

“There’s no doubt that President Reagan would respect the power and political potency of this movement,” Michael Reagan said.

The sibling rivalry has created its own cultural moment, sparking inevitable caterwaul among other commentators and pundits.

The video footage of Ron Reagan’s original comments on CNN have since been isolated on YouTube, along with his subsequent on-camera arguments over tea parties with conservative blogger Pamela Geller.

Mr. Reagan’s appearance “is a circus of liberal immaturity,” said Tara Lynn Thompson, a blogger with RightPundits.com who posted the footage.

“More moronic Republican women speak out,” wrote Harmon Leon, a contributor to True/Slant.com, a Forbes Media blog that bills itself as a forum for the “entrepreneurial journalist.”

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