NEWS AND OPINION:
That Gipper cachet has not ebbed. On Tuesday, fans of Ronald Reagan around the nation will mark what would have been his 107th birthday. There are big doings at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, of course. The Camp Pendleton Marine Division Band will be on hand, plus a color guard, chaplain, and a brass quintet. There’s a 21-gun salute plus a hearty, old-school birthday lunch with a menu featuring roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans almondine and chocolate birthday cake with vanilla ice cream.
Meanwhile, the 40th president’s final legacy is evolving — a process which typically takes about four decades to sort out. Certainly the Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute is among those shepherding that legacy.
Last month, director John Heubusch offered a rebuttal following a White House press conference by Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson after he conducted President Trump‘s annual physical. The physician had suggested it was possible that Reagan had experienced early stages of Alzheimer’s while in office.
“To speculate on President Reagan’s health in office with no access to his medical records and in contradiction to the plain truth was just wrong,” said Mr. Heubusch, noting that even a stray comment could lend credence to the “myth” that Reagan was in failing health as he neared the end of his second term.
Legacy is a complicated business.
“Reagan’s place in history is secure but must constantly be defended. To wit, the White House physician, Ronny Jackson, recently blundered badly on Reagan’s health. We now commemorate but three presidential birthdays, Washington’s, Lincoln’s and Reagan’s. That alone should tell us how Americans have come to regard Reagan and his legacy. That, plus the fact this his presidential library is by far the most visited of all the presidential libraries,” Reagan historian Craig Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.
“Even today, scholars and historians and students flood places like the Reagan Library and the Ranch in search of the facts of the 40th president. The Ronald Reagan Student Leadership Program, sponsored by the Reagan Library, is heavily attended by college and high school students as the young remain deeply curious and enamored of the 40th president.”
MEDIA MEMO MELTDOWN CONTINUES
The release of the House Intelligence Committee memo suggesting misconduct within the FBI continues to draw hostile and biased coverage from the press. A few headlines tell all, most referring to Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence committee:
“6 tortured arguments Republicans are making about the Nunes memo” (Washington Post); “Nunes memo aims at Russia probe, backfires on Trump and GOP”(USA Today); “No, the Nunes memo doesn’t vindicate Trump on the Russia probe” (NBC News), “The Trump-Fox News feedback loop is now complete” (Vanity Fair); “Trump releasing the Nunes memo is Nixonian — but today’s GOP won’t resist” (The Guardian); “In Trump’s Washington, weasels and liars win the day” (Vogue); “Here’s how the Nunes memo undercuts President Trump” (MSNBC).
FOR THE LEXICON
“Billions of crumbs.”
— Handy new phrase from House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who points out that over $3 billion in bonuses have gone out to American workers since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted. Over 300 companies have passed on the those dollars through employee bonuses, pay raises, improved benefits and job opportunities. The businesses include Best Buy, Hostess, Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, Disney, Exxon Mobil Corp. and AccuWeather, to name a scant few on the list.
Mr. Scalise’s new phrase counters House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi‘s recent claim that benefits emerging from the tax bill are only “crumbs.”
SLIM CHANCES FOR WOULD-BE SENATORS
Mitt Romney likely will declare his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Utah around Valentine’s Day. But what are his chances of winning, historically speaking? Not so good according to a unique analysis from Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor who gauged the odds for former presidential hopefuls who run for a lesser office. Do they have a chance of victory? Well, maybe not.
“With three former presidential candidates eying U.S. Senate bids in 2018 — Romney plus Michele Bachmann in Minnesota and Jim Gilmore in Virginia — I examined the electoral fate of such failed White House hopefuls in subsequent runs for seats in the nation’s upper legislative chamber in recent decades, From 1972 to the present, there have been more than a dozen presidential candidates who later ran for the U.S. Senate. Just three of these candidacies were successful — all from the South, with two from North Carolina,” explains the meticulous professor.
“Since 1972, the only candidates who lost their bid for president and then subsequently won a U.S. Senate election are North Carolina Democrat Terry Sanford in 1986, Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander in 2002, and North Carolina Republican Elizabeth Dole in 2002,” he says.
More than three times as many failed in their quest. And here they are:
New York Democrat John Lindsay (1980), California Democrat Sam Yorty (1980, as a Republican), California Democrat Jerry Brown (1982), Minnesota Democrat Eugene McCarthy (1982), Florida Democrat Reubin Askew (1988), Virginia Democrat Douglas Wilder (1994), Minnesota Democrat Walter Mondale (2002), Georgia Republican Herman Cain (2004), Maryland Republican Alan Keyes (2004, in Illinois), Virginia Republican Jim Gilmore (2008), and Wisconsin Republican Tommy Thompson (2012).
POLL DU JOUR
• 71 percent of Americans say that a president can affect the personal optimism of citizens about the future of the U.S.
• 71 percent say the president affects citizen confidence in the U.S. economy.
• 68 percent say a president affects their satisfaction with life in America.
• 52 percent say a president affects their overall happiness.
• 42 percent say a president affects their relationships with other people.
Source: A Gallup poll of 809 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 23-28.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin