Election 2016

How Ronald Reagan's Ghost Haunts the GOP

The Republican Party will never command the future unless it gives up its ridiculous nostalgia for its last great figure.

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So the second GOP candidates debate is taking place tonight at 6 P.M. ET for the JV and 8 P.M. ET for the varsity squad. Reason will be all over it, right here, with a live Twitter stream and constantly updated posts, so bookmark us.

The debate is being staged at Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California because the 21st-century Republican Party has an unkillable love affair with Dutch that is more indestructible than the one betwen Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenahl in Brokeback Mountain. Even before he packed up from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, GOP candidates at all levels were channeling Reagan's soul like over-caffeinated kids at a slumber party channeling ghosts with a Ouija Board.

For Republicans, Reagan is like Zardoz: A giant, god-like figure that descends periodically from the heavens and inspires fear, awe, rapture. Republicans must genuflect and bless themselves when invoking his name, image, fortitude, you name it. And they must do so in all circumstances.

It's easy enough to understand why: Despite the inevitable second-term scandals, Reagan overall left things far better than he had found them. He'd laughed off an assassin's bullet, won a historic landslide for his second term, reformed the tax code, rebooted the economy, stared down our enemies abroad (less through action and more through flexing), wore a smile through terrible recessions, and handed the White House to a sitting vice president for the first time in 150 years. He even opened the floodgates to more immigrants.

Oh yeah, that's kind of a problem, isn't it? Among Reagan's achievements was exactly the sort of immigration reform that today's party stands athwart yelling Stop! In fact, the majority of the 2016 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination aren't just against immigration (legal or otherwise), they're yapping about repealing "birthright citizenship."

That is, when they're not getting red-faced over defunding Planned Parenthood (which has moved to first-day action on the calendar of many of the hopefuls) and defending County Clerk Kim Davis's First Amendment right to shred the Constitution (it's come to this: Republicans championing a government worker for refusing to do her job).

Let me suggest that the GOP's Reagan fetish is not helping the party anymore. In fact, it is actively holding them back. Reagan was born in 1911 and he punched out over a quarter-century ago in another century. The Soviet Union still existed when he left office. Leona Helmsley was a big story in 1989. Savings & Loans were a thing in 1989. Taylor Swift wasn't yet a thing for a good chunk of 1989.

And yet whenever a Republican dares criticize or question the wisdom of Ronald Reagan, he or she gets covered in green goo. That happened last year when Rand Paul had the temerity to point out that The Great Communicator was overly fond of borrowing money and increasing the size, scope, and spending of government.

But until Republican presidential aspirants unstick themselves from the flypaper of the worst elements of Reagan's legacy—reliance on deficit spending, inattention to long-term funding problems of inherently unsustainable old-age entitlements and shrugging off waste in defense spending—and inspire themselves with the best—a genuine sense of America as a welcoming city on a hill, a belief in unity and building consensus despite long odds, a forceful yet restrained foreign policy—they will have a tough time moving into the White House.

Since 1988, a Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote just twice. And the party, which is constantly looking backward—past Reagan, even, to some mythical time when there were no race or gender issues and any recession was solved with a tax cut and a spending hike, and foreign policy wasn't a problem because we were always at war or at least had a peactime draft going—in a way that keeps it from being to seriously engage a world that is increasingly decentralized and seemingly chaotic. At least since Newt Gingrich, the GOP has billed itself as the party that gets the future, that small is good and that people everywhere want the same thing: individual rights and the ability to make their way in the world. Yet the GOP is constantly on the prowl for the next Great God Reagan who will make them swoon and clear the brush that clutters their path.

They can find inspiration from Reagan on how to confront a future they should embrace: One in which governments, corporations, religions, and other traditional sources of authority have less and less power over not just the good guys but the bad ones too. But today's GOP is too firmly facing backwards to embrace a country that is looser in terms of morality and lifestyle, and a world that benefits from cultural and economic engagement more than military threats and occupation.

Ever since I heard that the second debate was being held at the Reagan Sepulchre in Simi Valley, I've been thinking about a talk that former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave some years ago to a conservative group. This was when "Mitch the Knife" was widely considered to be presidential material.

I can't reproduce the exact phrasing but the gist went something like this. Daniels talked about going to college in the late '60s and early 1970s. He talked about how there were always a bunch of lefties and progs around on campus, talking about FDR and the New Deal and how it hadn't gone far enough. Daniels said he'd tell those folks to get bent (again, the phrasing isn't exact), because the New Deal was like 30 years ago, man, and it doesn't have very much to do with today's America.

So far, so good. Conservative-libertarian audiences like peeing on campus radicals and FDR. Daniels pulled some applause and hoots. But then he went on to say something that was really fricking awesome. He pointed out that here "we"—Republicans, he meant, or maybe fiscal conservatives more broadly—were in the 2000s and all "we" could do was invoke St. Ronald Reagan like he was the second coming of Jesus H. Christ (again, not his phrasing). Daniels looked around the room and said, You know, we're further in time from Reagan than those half-baked New Dealers were when I was in college. We've got to get new ideas, new policies, and a new vision of government. Times have changed. America has changed. Budget realities have changed.

I don't expect to here many new ideas, new policies, or new visions of government tonight. Do you? Most likely, we'll hear a lot of talk about how the Iran deal stinks on ice and how Obama is a dupe or a sellout or worse. Not much will be said about how U.S foreign policy under a Republican president and Congress blanched the earth for a decade-plus in two diferent countries and killed hundreds of thousands of people (including our own boys and girls) without leaving much to be proud of. Reagan, who approved fewer troop deployments in his two terms than Bill Clinton did, will be invoked as candidates talk about the need for more bombs and less butter. Reagan, who was divorced and generally unchurched and who helped legalize abortion in California and who didn't seem overly bothered by gays, will preface every invocation of the need to return to traditional values. All the candidates will talk about his genius at cutting taxes but exactly none will talk about cutting spending, even though tax rates are much lower than they were in his day and spending much higher.

A number of the big players on tonight's stage—Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Donald Trump—started life in the shadow of larger-than-life fathers. They are stand-ins for the Republican Party as a whole. It's a group that can neither replicate its father's success nor strike out for new territory that it can explore and build on. And until it does, the Republican Party, at the presidential level anyways, has nowhere to go but backwards.

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  1. OT: one of this esteemed crew has a potential copyright lawsuit on their hands…
    http://cheezburger.com/8564884…..-puns-unit

    1. IDIOTS! The N from LAWN stands for AND. LAWN ORDER you twats, not LAWN AND ORDER.

      But at least you didn’t put it in quotes. For that, I’ll commute your sentence to life without parole.

  2. Virulent fucking drug warrior is how I remember him.

    Carlton “Kids who smoke paraquat deserve to die” Turner, anyone?

    1. Thank you. Never forget.

    2. Jimmy Carter is the one who started paraquating weed

    3. “…Reagan overall left things far better than he had found them.”

      Uh, unless you worked for a living. And yes, if you liked to get high. It’s all revisionist history. I was really surprised when the canonization of Reagan began.

  3. The Dems are worse – they haven’t given up the ghost of JFK yet.

    (disclaimer: I have no great love for either figure)

    1. Nor the ghost of FDR.

      1. It IS pretty amusing to see Democrats, who sell themselves as the anti-racist party, deifying the president who detained ~110,000 people based solely on their race.

        1. Let’s not forget Woodrow Wilson, there is a real winner !

    2. Too bad JFK didn’t OD on drugs while in office like he probably would have eventually if it weren’t for Oswald.

      1. No, dude. The war on painkillers is bad enough.

        1. I have severe intermittent bouts of sciatica pain. Thanks to painkiller paranoia, it’s hard to get them when I need them. And thanks to that cunt Obama I can no longer get even half assed health coverage for less than $600 per month for just me.

          Is this a good time to bring up my plan to euthanize all the progressives?

    3. Bingo. Look at the last two successful Dem candidates, and the rhetoric around them. It was all “Camelot” and “Kennedyesque”.

      So tell us, Nick, can the Democrat Party will command the future without giving up its ridiculous nostalgia for its last great figure?

      1. The Democrat’s last great figure was Truman. Before that you’d have to go back to Gover Cleveland.

        JFK was a second rate hack with good hair, nice teeth, and a first rate political machine that his daddy bought for him. Getting shot was, frankly, his best career move, legacy-wise. Both (Bubba) Clinton and Kerry were pale imitations of somebody who was a fraud to begin with.

        Not that the Republicans have been overburdened with Greats, mind.

        1. I would say embracing Reagan’s ideals and learning from his mistakes is the best move. The WoD, amnesty, expecting the democrat congress to honor a deal, etc. were real errors. In the context of the time he thought he was doing the right thing and didn’t have the same hindsight we have now.

        2. Grover Cleveland = Best American President ever.

          My friends don’t know what to think when I say that. Most are historically rather ignorant, so I always remind them that he was a Democrat. Regardless of whether they’re D or R, they’re surprised to hear it. Then I remind them that I’m a libertarian.

          1. A long time ago, there were a lot of good democrats. The orogressive takeover is a far more recent phenomenon. As much as I disdain FDR for so many things, I see the good in Truman, Kennedy, Cleveland, etc..

          2. Coolidge man, Coolidge. (and I’m only a little biased by being a Vermonter)

      2. Obama was compared to FDR as much or more than he was compared to JFK.

        Partisans love their stars. Shocking.

      3. As I say below, Kennedy died in 1963. Nick Gillespie wasn’t yet a thing for a good chunk of 1963.

    4. I dated a hardcore SoCal Progressive for a couple of years. I called JFK a drug addled maniac in front of her parents. They actually asked me to leave the room so they could discuss my behavior with their daughter and whether or not I should end my trip early and fly all the way across the country to get home.

      1. So, how did it play out?

        1. I had to stay at her uncle’s the rest of the trip.

            1. If you mean great in bed then yes.

              1. but sooner or later you’d have to talk to her

          1. After you dumped her, right?

            1. I dumped her when I came back to the east coast.

          2. I trust Uncle was cool.

          3. haha

            the gun-loving uncle with the good whisky and albums?

      2. what year was this?

    5. JFK was a fairly conservative president by today’s standards. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” No Dem president will say that now.

      1. Indeed no.

        Sacrificing the individual at the altar of the community is no longer requested. It’s demanded.

        1. You’re mischaracterizing. Coming from a rich family or not, he fought in WW2 when he didn’t have to. And at some cost. People actually believed in self sacrifice for their fellow man, and a country that had given them a lot. Not out of some servile need to worship the state, but a sense of pride in the principles and sacrifice upon which the U.S. is founded.

          That was probably the best of JFK. Who was a flawed man, and a so-so president. But he did have some good ideals.

          1. Noblesse oblige was a genuine thing back then. Hell, WWI wrecked upper classes in every European country (for all the bitching about poor workers, officers had greater percentage of casualties in every army, including ones you wouldn’t think like Austro-Hungarian and Russian). And Kennedy clan did send their sons to the war, as did the Roosevelts. Teddy Roosevelt lost one of his sons in WWI, and two more in WWII (one as suicide while serving, other led the Utah beach landings and died from heart failure a month later).

            1. Sure, noblesse oblige was – and to some degree *is* a genuine thing. The British Royal family still send their male offspring into the military, and *somewhat* into harm’s way as long as it doesn’t put the royal lineage at risk.

              But noblesse oblige expressed by risking your children is very different from putting yourself in harm’s way. And an *elected leader* of a nation that still (effectively) has the right to draft other people’s children, a President standing up and telling people that it’s nobler to serve the state than to be personally free, is pretty odious behavior, no matter who does it.

          2. WTF?

            A president declares that it’s every citizen’s responsibility to subjugate his personal freedom to the will of the state, and all I get back is some Kennedy-fellator whining that I’m mischaracterizing (I think you might mean misinterpreting) his quote?

            Dear bog, I had to check the URL. I thought I’d ended up in Salon.

            Without getting into specifics, a reasonable argument could be made that the motivations of the Kennedy family as a whole were more complex and far-reaching than maybe the motivations of a normal “patriotic” family.

            In any case, volunteerism is a fine and noble gesture when the spirit in which it is offered derives from the individual.

            1. I read “ask not” as an argument against the welfare state.

            2. You’re really misinterpreting this one. That is never what Kennedy meant. Re read what I wrote, and maybe think about it. And for Kennedy’s faults, he was no Marxist. In fact he was quite anti communist. And that’s something of an endorsement coming from me. There are few of you here that despise progressives/Marxists as much as I do, or are willing to go fas far to rid the world of them.

  4. Since 1988, a Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote just twice.

    Bush in 2004. When was the other?

    1. They must be counting 88.

    2. 1988.

    3. If it is ’88 inclusive then Bush I in ’88 and Dubya in 2004.

      1. And if it is ’88 inclusive then then “Only twice since 1988” still suffers from some massive small sample size issues. There’s been seven presidential elections since 1988. Winning the popular vote in 2 of them is still ~30% of the time. President Trump winning reelection in 2016 gets them to 4 of 9 winning the popular vote and having held the presidency for 5 of the 9 possible terms. Heck, since 1988 the Democratic Party presidental candidate has only received over 50% of the popular vote 3 times since 1988

        1. Also don’t forget that 2 of those elections, no one won the “Popular” vote: Clinton was elected twice with less than 50% of the popular vote.

        2. 1992 D plurality 43%
          1996 D plurality 49%
          2000 D plurality 48%
          2004 R majority 51%
          2008 D majority 53%
          2012 D majority 51%

  5. Those deranged Republikkkuntz have lurched so far to the extremist right poor ol’ Saint Ronnie would have to tear up his Party card and join the glorious Democratic crusade for justice and equality.

    1. Nancy would never allow such a thing!!!

      1. She would if her astrologer said it was okay.

    2. It’s always hilarious when the Salon boys show up and pretend to speak for Reagan. And no, the Comedy Channel is not a news source.

  6. Reagan was a democrat who voted four times for FDR, As President, Reagan never proposed getting rid of any FDR’s major programs. Reagan used deficit spending to try to improve the economy like FDR. Even the firing of the air traffic controllers followed FDR, who also did not believe in government unions.

    The reason why Reagan was not a Democrat when he ran for President was that the Democratic party especially in California had moved so far left especially in social issues. Reagan repeatedly said that he did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him.

    1. Strangely enough, as much as the GOP reveres him, the Democrats revile him and bemoan his deficits. They all have their partisan blinders on and cannot see him for what he was, a socon Democrat.

      1. Aka “Joe Lieberman”

        1. Exactly, except with more telegenics.

      2. As was Dumbya.

        Interestingly the only presidents that worked on deficit reduction were Clinton and Obama.

        1. Hey shit sieve; Here‘s something for ya!

        2. Hey dipshit; who are you going to vote for this time around?

        3. “Interestingly the only presidents that worked on deficit reduction were Clinton and Obama.”

          Interesting to you only, because whatever deficit they might have trimmed later became a moot point when their future spending programs and other policies went into effect.

          You can thank sequestration cuts (and yes, also tax increases) for deficit reduction that occurred on Obama’s last few years in office. CBO will deficits will shoot up because Obama didn’t do anything about entitlement spending.

        4. Obama worked on deficit reduction in the same way a sleazy retail outlet marks goods up to mark them down. And Clinton had his feet held to the fire by congressional republicans lead by Gingrich.

          Thanks for playing though. Care to try again?

      3. that term – the conservative Dem – simply does not exist anymore. People wonder why the South went GOP; that’s the reason. Meanwhile, the current-day Repubs have hardly lurched to the right; it’s just that in comparison to today’s Dems, they seem far right. The party has always been pro-defense, pro-life, and some other things, but it used to be pro-market, too, instead of a different brand of cronyist. And frankly, it’s own actions are why Trump and, to lesser extents, Carson and Fiorina have found traction.

        1. Do the Blue Dogs not exist anymore?

          1. Barely. Jim Webb would be a good example of that and he’s almost an outcast within his own party.

            1. I read Webb’s position, and he looks pretty middle left to me

          2. I don’t think so. Maybe a guy in the NC district where I used to live but he may have shifted, too, in order to keep his seat.

            1. Conservative Dems still exist at state and local levels in much of the South.

              The Rowan KY county clerk is a democrat and probably considered conservative.

              I think people on the internet have been talking about her for some reason, but it escapes me right now.

        2. Both parties moved to the right over the past few decades. Things may be changing slightly now, with both parties moving in opposite directions.

          If Reagan wasn’t a true Republican in his day then nobody was.

          1. At least Pirate Truther appears to be a real person. You’re just a sock.

            1. And he needs darning.

          2. You are conflating ideology with party.

          3. Moved to the right? Uh, no. How old are you? I lived through all this stuff. Both parties have gone far left relative to the 80’s.

            1. That makes absolutely no sense. Reagan raised taxes many times. Republicans today think any tax hike ever is heresy.

              1. Reagan also cut taxes. The tax increases of which you speak were part of a compromise with congressional democrats for spending cuts. The democrats reneged.

                This is all well documented, in case you don’t remember it firsthand like I do. Or is your knowledge based on contextless talking points from Media !atters and such? I ask, because I hear this same line of bulkshit every time Reagan’s name comes up around your kind.

                It’s like the inverse of Clinton cutting the deficit. As if that wasn’t the product of pressure from Gingrich and the other congressional republicans.

                1. As if that wasn’t the product of pressure from Gingrich and the other congressional republicans.

                  That’s why I always liked Kasich (Budget Committee Chair during the 90’s)- then he became Governor…

        3. The moderate democrats lose more and more election in conservative leaning areas because of Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Either from alienating not progtards in the electorate, or internal purges.

      4. They do revile him, but only because the GOP reveres him. That’s how it goes. Doesn’t matter what IT is. The first guy that stakes out his position speaks for his side, and then the other side must take the opposite view, no matter how stupid that is. Those who don’t have a say in IT, just wait to speak until their side takes a position.

        Yet strangely enough, so many Dems still try to channel the Gipper. Obama himself has compared himself to Reagan on multiple occasions.

    2. Sorry, but the whole deficit issue is at the foot of congressional democrats of the time. There was a bargain for tax increases in change for budget cuts. The democrats reneged.

  7. When i was 4 or 5 had a toy robot who transformed into a gun (NOT Megatron – some translucent plastic ripoff). I named it Ronald Ray-gun, which my diehard democrat Dad thought was hilarious.

  8. Well, I can tell you as someone who remembers that era very well, Reagan seemed like the best president ever in history after 4 years of ta Jimmah.

    1. Volcker put the hammer on inflation.

      Plus, Reagan did a good job with Gorby. Otherwise he had sneaky bastards like Ollie North meddling in every country around.

    2. My Pa predicted in the 80’s Ronnie’s legacy would be very long-lived, and he’d be one of those prezznits that was remembered for a long time (a la Washington or the Roosevelts).

      My Pa? He’s smart.

    3. Exactly! Reagan had a lot of things going, but the biggest one was that he sent the peanut farmer back to Plains GA. The other thing was that he totally kicked ass in his majority win in a way that no candidate since has come close to, and then the Iranians released the hostages the day he was sworn in. So not only was he have the luck to come right after the 98# weakling, he kicked sand in everyone’s face and the bullies ran before he could blink.

      And yes he borrowed big time, but there was a lot of forgiveness for that too when interest rates fell from the low 20% range back down to the 7-8% range.

      Sorry haters, but that’s just the stuff that legends are built on, and not even his political enemies can reinterpret that. All they can do is like Sparky here did and wait it out till they can call it old news.

  9. handed the White House to a sitting vice president for the first time in 150 years.

    Who then bungled the job so thoroughly he was booted overboard after a single term.

    1. Who then bungled the job so thoroughly he was booted overboard after a single term.

      Who then was plagued by an unexpected loss, denied by voters confused about outside issues and the state of the economy. Many of them were angry that he failed to pursue their own personal agenda with a single-minded fervor; such people are clearly mad. Despite a professed rabid love of law and government power, a distaff faction of an unimportant offshoot of the GOP to whom no one should ever listen to ever because of their insignificance, nevertheless convinced otherwise sensible voters that, after years of getting what they deserved good and hard, it turned out to not be the promised paradise on earth. Such people engaged in the only form of protest they felt would fit into a commercial break: a childish rebellion in the ballot box. It was sullen, and low, but the simpletons who craved a sense of agency would not be thwarted.

      /GOP

  10. The Reagan Library debate is always the worst. It’s mostly just gobbling Reagan’s knob.

    1. It’s always so much better when held at the Ron Paul libra…. no, wait!

  11. We’ve got to get new ideas, new policies, and a new vision of government.

    Here’s one:
    NO, FUCK YOU, CUT SPENDING

    1. How about ‘NO, FUCK YOU, CUT SPENDING. OR ELSE!!!!!!!’

      Something Boehner and McConnell need to learn.

  12. Reagan is revered because he gave great speeches and had a grandfatherly persona so convincing no one cared if his underlings were dirty.

    In essence, nothing bad happened during his 8 years, he created great memories in the form of speeches, and 80s culture has a strong nostalgic pull for those alive at the time.

    It was the last time conservatives felt all was right with the world and we could all be proud to be Americans.

    1. “”nothing bad happened during his 8 years””

      At least nothing anyone could remember in court

      1. Oliver North admitted, in testimony, that the Iran Contra deal was “a neat idea”.

      2. I can’t, however, remember if he admitted that before or after his lawyer said “I’m his lawyer, not a potted plant”, receiving thunderous laughter in what may have been the greatest senate investigative exchange since the 1950s.

        1. Even as a young kid, I was like, “These motherfuckers have some balls on them”

          meaning, Reagan’s “What? me? Oh, I think i was president then, yes. Ha! I still am. Who? well, that doesn’t sound like me. No I don’t speak spanish. Have you asked Nancy?”-defense…

          …and then Ollie North’s poor-man’s-Gordon Liddy impersonation. And JohnPointdexter’s very good casting as the “Evil Genius Bureaucratic Dickhead” which was to be re-used by Hollywood in almost every action film of the 1990s

          That said = you had people on the left crowing for a decade+ about how America was forever tainted by the sins of Iran-Contra… which I assure you shares ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN COMMON WITH BENGHAZI WHICH IS SUCH A FAKE SCANDAL

          1. Reagan kept Democrats liberal, we could use him in the whitehouse again. Winning made Democrats illiberal progressives. They could stand to get their asses kicked for about two decades.

      1. Such a good show. Can’t decide which is funnier, this or the “because of the implication” scene with Dennis

    2. There were a few KAH-BLAM-OHs in the middle east, IIRC.

    3. nothing bad happened during his 8 years

      True. The communist government of the USSR fell, unspectacularly.

      There are several ways an empire can come apart. In this case it was an empire with a large surplus of ICBMs. Had the bosses decided that burying the U.S. was the way to keep power, it could have been very messy.

      If Carter had still been CiC, I think the proposition would have been very tempting to the Politbureau. But even they know you don’t want to go to the brink with a cowboy.

      See Carter’s Iranian hostage crisis, which dragged on for over a year and suddenly resolved itself the day Reagan took office.

  13. Ooh, Nick’s telling ghost stories! Someone start a fire and lets make S’mores.

  14. You know, we’re further in time from Reagan than those half-baked New Dealers were when I was in college. We’ve got to get new ideas, new policies, and a new vision of government. Times have changed. America has changed. Budget realities have changed.

    Change for change’s sake isn’t generally a conservative position. Hell, I’d like to see a return to some 200 year old dead guys’ positions. Getting back to Ronnie, despite my very mixed feeling about his legacy, government still isn’t the solution and it’s still the problem.

    1. Yes, his actions to the contrary notwithstanding, Reagan at least set the proper tone for the debate on government.

  15. Reagan projected an aura of optimism and confidence, something J Carter sorely lacked.

      1. Just because you’re an insecure pessimist, doesn’t mean optimists protecting confidence are all bullshitters.

  16. Aka “Joe Lieberman”

    *makes sign to ward off evil, spits*

    1. This breakfast cereal costs too much!

    2. Lieberman, ugh, one of the worst to ever walk the halls of congress. What a complete shitbag.

  17. IIRC, Reagan’s immigration reform was not supposed to yield more illegal immigrants voting Democrat. Now that we know how that works out, it’s not a betrayal to say “not again.”

    Reagan’s primary achievement was spending the USSR into the ground. We should not discount that lightly. He did that when Democrats were arguing for capitulation, and popular fiction was predicating on hundreds of years of soviet rule. Check out the CoDominium sci fi from the ’80s (Pournelle).

    I would really like to see how the alternate history would have worked out without 9/11. Where W could have focused on a balanced budget and social security reform. While we’re at it, let’s skip the 1991 Gulf War. By comparison, Reagan’s defense spending was a bargain.

    1. his reform idea traded amnesty for illegals already here for border security to stop the flow. One of those two things did not happen so after a lengthy lathering and rinsing process, we are now repeating the cycle.

      1. Yeah, you may as well say, “Reagan tried to kick the football, so you should try, too!”

      2. Reagan didn’t have the benefit of hindsight on that one. Now that we see how this plays out, we shouldn’t try it again.

  18. “For Republicans, Reagan is like Zardoz”

    From afar, it sounds awesome and awe-inspiring**, but when you actually sit down to examine/watch it, you are left feeling dissatisfied and lied to??

    **(I mean, who wouldn’t get excited when the heard young Connery starred in a Sci-fi movie about powerful, ancient, Doom Gods)

    1. It’s a John Boorman film. You should already know what you’re getting into before you watch it.

      1. Seeing way more of Ned Beatty than I ever wanted?

        1. YOU WERE WARNED

          Now squeal like a pig.

        2. Also seeing Sean Connery dressed in a way I wish I could unsee.

  19. While we’re at it, remember that Reagan switched parties as a result of his experience in the SAG. He was convinced there were actual commies at work in our politics, at least in the SAG, and he didn’t think the Dems took it seriously.

    To the extent he chose “robust economy” as the best way to defeat the evil empire, it was a Win-Win.

    1. To the extent he chose “robust economy” as the best way to defeat the evil empire,

      Its like he had played every strategy game ever.

      1. *DeGaulle has left the game*

      2. Its like he had played every strategy game ever.

        President Reagan, Mastermind

        (I hate that I have to actually type the HTML now. REASONABLE!!!!!)

  20. It’s hard for me not to think back to those days with great nostalgia. America was just a lot more free back then. No matter what Reagan was doing, you didn’t feel it too much personally. It was good times. One time he was giving away cheese. I remember the ‘Reagan’ cheese, and the Soviet Union fell and the Berlin wall fell. Well I think Boosh 1 was prez then, but no matter. It seemed like good times and that things would only get better, which they did for almost another decade, until Dubyah, 911, and everything has been downhill since.

    What would it even take to roll back the size of government back to 1989? How many agencies would have to be dismantled? How much spending would need to be cut?

    1. Reagan did beef-up the war on drug users. He should get a lot of the credit for the militarization of the police. The 80s was when they really changed from peace officers to warriors.

      1. That’s my biggest knock on him was how he doubled down on Nixon’s WOD.

        1. The 1980’s iteration of the WoD was a fully bipartisan affair. Black civil rights leaders, politicians, and preachers were among its loudest supporters.

          Certainly Reagan had a blind spot when it came to the WoD.

        2. Blame, not credit.

      2. The 80s was when they really changed from peace officers to warriors jackbooted stormtroopers.

        FIFY

    2. You may recall, Hyperion, a few months ago when there were a lot of commenters disagreeing with the proposition that this country has become less free over the last few generations or so.

      I think it goes without saying, myself. At all levels of government, the micromanagement and enforcement activities are just off the charts, after ramping up decade over decade.

      It would be interesting, I think, to know if a black person faces more barriers now in opening and running a business than they did in the ’50s, for example.

      Sure, we got rid of a lot of discrimination, but we seem to have done so by subjecting everyone to a horrific level of government involvement in their lives. I couldn’t say with any confidence that even black people are more free now than they were when they were racially discriminated against. Maybe, but I don’t think its at all obvious. The Civil Rights movement isn’t “win” button for freedom which ends all discussion about longterm trends, and it would be nice if more people realized that.

      1. Anyone who disagrees that we’re less free and the government has become greatly more intrusive and oppressive, it’s because of 1 of 3 things.

        1. They weren’t alive in the 80s or before, or too young then to remember.

        2. They’ve lived all of this time in an ivory tower or have lived a very sheltered and privileged life.

        3. They are in denial.

        1. Last night’s Burning Man article reminded how we are less free than in the 70s. In 1972, I went to a huge hippie gathering at a national forest in Colorado, not as large as Burning Man but same order of magnitude I think. Everybody — and I mean everybody — had some quantity of dope. The cops pretty much left everybody free to come and go as they pleased. They didn’t run busts and were actually courteous and helpful, directing traffic and stuff.

        2. Compared to the 1980s you might be right, compared to the turn of the century you would be right, but compared to the 1960s or earlier, we’re much freer.

      2. There aren’t rednecks driving around in pickups smashing their storefronts, we’ve just made it prohibitively expensive to open the storefront.

        Progress.

      3. Progressive freedom issues are like a loss leader product, or a Black Friday door buster sale at WalMart. It’s designed to get the general public in the door. Once you’re in they up sell the public to full on Soviet/Maoist Marxism. Sure, not everyone will buy, but they get enough pull through to advance their evil progressive agenda.

  21. Funny how Democrats like to claim that Reagan was nothing but a terrible actor who managed to be so good an actor that he fooled an entire nation. Kinda like how that moron named Bush masterminded 9/11. Not that I’d ever expect intellectual consistency from the left.

    1. Yeah, he was just lucky that Gorbachev decided to end the Cold War.

  22. OT: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has postponed Richard Glossip’s execution. No link yet, got it from Sister Helen Prejean’s twitter account.

    1. Wonderful news!!!

        1. It’s apparently only for two weeks, but hopefully his legal team can find something in that time.

          1. Based on their publicity campaign, they already have something, right?

            They just haven’t told us what, yet.

    2. At the second trial, his defense team again didn’t show the videotape of Sneed’s confession to jurors, and Glossip was convicted again. This time, the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction.

      That confession video must not be all it’s cracked up to be for two different teams of defense lawyers working a high profile case to not show it.

      1. I assumed the judge wouldn’t allow it? Isn’t that what they usually do when they want to predetermine the outcome.

    3. Whew!

  23. “That is, when they’re not getting red-faced over defunding Planned Parenthood (which has moved to first-day action on the calendar of many of the hopefuls)”

    Yeah, what awful timing, attacking Planned Parenthood just when they’re in the middle of a scandal about selling baby parts, behavior which grosses out the fence-sitting moderates.

    At this critical juncture, it would be best for Republicans to simply accept federal funding for Planned Parenthood, including the recycling of that taxpayer money back into Democratic Party campaign coffers. Because opposing such things is a political non-starter.

    “and defending County Clerk Kim Davis’s First Amendment right to shred the Constitution (it’s come to this: Republicans championing a government worker for refusing to do her job).”

    This meme really needs a stake through the heard.

    Davis was confronted with the choice of (a) doing her job or (b) obeying a federal court order. She couldn’t do both, so she chose the former.

    1. stake through its *heart*

      1. I liked your first spelling better. Amber Heard would be a really sexy vampire. Has she ever played one?

        1. I hadn’t “Heard” of her before – the only movie in her filmography that I watched was *Machete Kills.*

          1. She was a lesbian until Johnny Depp converted her.

            (Or she was just bisexual the whole time, but I think the conversion hypothesis is funnier.)

            1. It’s just natural for really hot chicks to get on each other. It’s even more natural if I’m there watching, or get involved.

        2. I would personally enjoy penetrating her with wood. But not in the heart. Between her tits though. So near the heart.

    2. Planned Parenthood is really a good issue for Republicans.

      Democratic leaders know they have to support funding for Planned Parenthood, otherwise they, the said leaders, will be purged by the “feminist” base.

      But the Democratic leaders are fully aware that the swing voters would not be fans of PP’s activities if they actually knew what was going on: Covering up rape, blocking reforms designed to prevent Gosnell-type atrocities, selling baby parts, etc., etc.

      The only way to continue the funding is to lie to the swing voters about PP’s activities (mammograms! free puppies!) and tell voters not to believe Democratic talking points, not their lying eyes. This is actually the best strategy available, since the swing voters don’t like thinking a lot about abortion and are generally willing to listen to soothing reassurances that they don’t have to worry about it.

      But if (against their own inclinations) the swing voters have to confront what PP is actually doing, then that spells trouble for Democrats and opportunities for Republicans.

      So even the most cynical Republican operatives, who is only against abortion because Democrats like it, should be able to see the opportunities in this situation.

      And pro-abortion concern-trolling shouldn’t deter them from going on the offensive.

      1. and tell voters to believe Democratic talking points, not their lying eyes….

      2. Planned Parenthood could have been a good issue had they not beat it into the ground in a matter of days, but they’ve already done that. When I see “Planned Parenthood” now I just roll my eyes and move on.

    3. they’re in the middle of a scandal about selling baby parts, behavior which grosses out the fence-sitting moderates.

      And violates federal law. Let’s not forget that part. Aside from whether we like the law or not, PP is breaking it, and a motivated prosecutor could probably PP down on a RICO case.

      Funny how our Justice Department goes way beyond the law in going after businesses they hate (pot, guns, etc.), and ignores blatant, public violations of the law by businesses they lurv.

      1. How quickly would the Obama DoJ be getting to work had a NYT reporter caught multiple FFLs on camera talking about how they’d sell to people they strongly suspected were straw buyers (assuming they weren’t selling to Federal agents who were going to drop the guns across the Mexican border that is)?

      2. And funny how some obscure county clerk gets thrown in the clink for not granting a few marriage licenses but the baby butchers walk free after violating actual federal laws?

  24. This is all Reagan’s fault!
    /buttplug

    1. I’m pretty sure that, before Bush came along, that was the Plug’s go-to excuse for anything bad that happened during the Clinton administration.

    2. Where is Libertymike? This should have been his thread.

      1. We were commandeered by a pirate.

  25. I admit it- at the time, Reagan had me fooled. 🙁 .

    However, in retrospect its easy for me to see that Reagan was a fraud- just another scam artist , just like Trump, Paul and all the rest of the current candidates – and just like all presidents both before or since Reagan.

    Fact: there are no political solutions for _any_ percieved “problem” ; never have been, never will be – not “right wing”, not “left wing” , not even so-called “Ron Paul”, or “libertarian” solutions.

    Fact: As long as you believe that real political solutions actually exist, dear reader, you will remain firmly locked inside “the Matrix”; i.e. exactly where the Obama’s, Trumps, Sanders , Pauls, etc. all want you to be:-)

    Fact: the author of this article is just another in the endless stream of “inside the matrix” writers doing their utmost to keep you firmly buried/entrenched deep inside that “matrix”, by encouraging/flattering yours and others here endless fantasies of dreamed of political “solutions” to yours, the country’s, or the world’s, problems, when in fact, there are none, can be none, and never have been any 🙂 .

    Regards, onebornfree.
    http://www.onebornfree.blogspot.com

    1. Nice eye patch, bro. We typically wear monocles around here, but we will accept an eye patch in substitution.

      1. YARR HYPERION! LET THE SCALES FALL FROM YOUR EYES, MATEY!

        1. BATON DOWN THE HATCHES AND STOW AWAY THE ORPHANS! THAR IN THE GREAT SALTY DEPTHS THERE BE MONSTERS!

          1. BE CAREFUL LAD OR HE’LL SEND YOU DOWN TO ALEX JONES’ LOCKER

            1. ALEX JONES’ LOCKER

              *stands to applaud*

          2. It’s fun to charter an accountant
            And sail the wide accountancy,
            To find, explore the funds offshore
            And skirt the shoals of bankruptcy!

        2. That’s fall from your eye , matey.

    2. PIRATE TRUTHER RETURNS

      YARRRRRR WHERE BE YE BOOTY?

      1. ARRRR PLZ PLZ READ ME BLOG MATEYS

    3. AHOY MATEY THAR BE DUBLOONS BEHIND 9/11 YARRRR

      1. NO CHEST HAS EVER FALLEN INTO DAVEY JONES’ LOCKER THAT FAST. YAR, IT BE SCIENCE!

        1. WHAR BE THE BARNACLES ON THE MOON FLAG ARRRRR

        2. ARRRRRR IT WAS FREE FALL OFF THE PLANK I TELLS YA YARRRR

          1. YAR! HAVE YE EVER LOOK’D AT A PIECE O’ EIGHT, MATEY? LIKE REALLY LOOK’D? YAR! THERE BE STRANGE THINGS!

      2. YARRR, IT’S TALK LIKE A PIRATE AND ORPHAN CANNON SHOOT DAY, GRAB SOME WENCHES AND ALE AND LOAD UP THOSE ORPHANS!

      3. Arrr, Talk Like a Pirate Day be three days away, ye landlubbers, see –

        http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html

        And ye can’t save it for three more days, ye premature pirate-ulators?

        1. Your really need to click on the link in onebornfree’s post. It’s SFW.

        2. Important: learn how to Talk Like a Pirate from the pros.

    4. YARRR MORPHEUS WILL RESCUE US FROM THE DAMNED DAVEY JONES LOCKER OF THE MATRIX ARRRRR

      1. EVERYONE BE LIVIN’ A DREAM LIFE BUT ME! YAR! THAT EXPLAINS IT! YAR!

        1. YARRRR I’D SELL YOU ALL OUT FOR A FAKE STEAK ARRGGHH WALK THE PLANK YE DOGS

          1. I CALL FOR A MUTINY, LAND LUBBERS!!!

        2. I get this feeling that you guys have met up with the pirate in some time past…

          1. YARRR WE FOUGHT IN THE INFOWARS TOGETHER

            1. YARRR HE WAS GOOD MAN THEN BUT THEN THE MONEY WAS TOO GOOD ARRRRR HE’S AS BLACK-HEARTED AS THE DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS NOW ARRRRR

              1. YARRR THERE COMES A TIME IN MOST MEN’S LIVES WHEN THEY FEEL THE NEED TO RAISE THE FALSE FLAG ARRRRRR

          2. YAR! HE BE THE ONLY SQUAB BRAVE ENOUGH TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 9/11, YE SCURVY DOG!

            1. I’VE SAILED ALL 57 SEAS WITH MY CREW OF FAIR WENCHES, LAND LUBBER!

          3. Yeah. He truthed up the 9/11 thread with his truthiness.

    5. I really like your ride at Disneyland.

    6. I just emailed him my problems. I suggest you do the same and post the replies here.

      1. YAR! TRUE PIRATES ONLY REPLY BY THE CARRIER PIGEON!

        1. GARRR DON’T FORGET THE SEMAPHORE YE SALTY DOG

          1. NO FLAGS ON ME SHIP EXCEPT THE JOLLY ROGER, YE DOG! I’LL HAVE YOU KEELHAULED FOR THIS, YAR! WHERE BE ME FIRST MATE?

      2. Did anyone send the ‘I’m living in an oppressive police state’ problem yet?

    7. YARRR MATEY WHAT ABOUT THE VAN ALLEN RADIATION ARRRRR

  26. He’d…reformed the tax code…

    You’re talking about how he jacked up the Social Security taxes, right?

    1. Nah. He got rid of a bunch of tax shelters and lowered the marginal rates.

      About the only decent income tax reform in my lifetime, and I’m fucking old.

      1. Donald Trump was livid over the 1986 Tax Simplification Act.

        Reagan also indexed the tax brackets for inflation. Before that, taxes rates went up automatically went up with inflation.

  27. I’m an old Ronnie fan though he has become a bit tarnished with time and my own changing political outlook.

    But he does get bonus points for confronting the evils of communism and actually doing something about it.

    1. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

      1. My favorite Reagan…

        “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

    2. He gets more bonus points for breaking a government union strike.

  28. Nick knows he’s misleading, bordering on lying, on Reagan’s immigration record. It was an amnesty (Reagan had the guts to call it what it was) in return for better enforcement and border security. He was had and admitted it later.

    1. Why that’s the Reason way!

  29. Some genius at WaPo heard about the “clock =/= bomb” muddle in Texas. Blames racism.

    If the moderators of the second Republican debate are still looking for questions to ask the party’s presidential candidates, this is fertile soil. Yes, it’s one incident, but it can serve as a jumping-off point for a lot of issues. Is this an example of good local governance? Are Americans too quick to be suspicious of Muslims or those whom they perceive as Muslim? Do immigrants face an unfriendly American society? Are American educators able to prepare students for the technology-rich American workplace? And so on. Make up your own! It’s easy.

    Here’s another one: has our government’s incessant terrormongering created a vast cohort of retarded pantswetters completely unable to comprehend risk?

  30. I’d enjoy not having a President, period- much less having to endure years and years of presidential cock-gagging that never seems to end when elites discover themselves a political icon to kneel to.

    Allow the citizens to vote on the various leaders of cabinet posts every 4 years and fuck this idea of a single person being granted power to hand-select their own long table of immensely powerful and mostly corrupt barbarians to head the acronyms that generally make life miserable for many of us.

  31. Dumbest. Reason. Article. Eveh.

    1. Please, it doesn’t come close to the yesterday’s Dalmia masterpiece.

      But for true dumb, you need Richman. And I’m not talking “Kyle is Lanza” stupid. I’m talking,

      Yet another manufactured crisis ? costing over 2,000 lives. It could be brought to a speedy end if Barack Obama would give the word.

      US out of Ukraine!

      I love the magazine, I gave them money, I get a new issue in my mailbox, but by god, people, stop trying to make Commies like you!

  32. The premise is false…it’s not Reagan holding Republican candidates back. It’s Republican candidates like Trump and Bush, who are too stupid to understand Reagan or his policies, holding Republicans back.

    It’s not Reagan’s fault that the Republican party today is run by imbeciles who don’t understand rights or good policy. The only thing that’s kept Republicans electable is that Democrats are so much worse.

    1. Also, Reagan was not “unchurched”…he was quite religious and had a church. He just didn’t attend while he was President because he realized that it was disruptive to services and other church-goers and he felt that it was wrong of him to ruin the ability of other people to go to service just because he wanted to go.

      He was quite open about his religious beliefs…he just didn’t cram it down people’s throats in his proposals because he also understood how individual rights worked.

    2. Trump hated Reagan. Regarding Reagan’s tax reform, Trump said, it was “one of the worst ideas in recent history.”

      1. Unsurprising. New York liberals like Trump usually despised Reagan because a) he wasn’t from the East Coast, b) he wasn’t an Ivy Leaguer, c) he didn’t feel compelled to kiss up to East Coast demographics.

  33. So, you know how I like to do the parody of the paranoid self-pitying yokel moron character? Well…it turns out that the character came to life. Sorry. I’m like, an evil Gepetto or something.

    Donald ?@Dymodon 33m33 minutes ago
    IF ILLEGALS WANT PROTECTED STATUS HERE SEND THEM TO FIGHT THE WILD FIRES IF YOU COME BACK & FIRES OUT YOU GET TO STAY
    0 retweets 0 favorites
    Reply Retweet Favorite
    More

    1. I’m not sure that’s a great example (apart from the ALL CAPS) of your point.

    2. (Immigration) Trial by Ordeal?

  34. All the candidates will talk about his genius at cutting taxes but exactly none will talk about cutting spending, even though tax rates are much lower than they were in his day

    Top marginal income tax rate in 1988: 28.0%

    Top marginal income tax rate today: 39.6%.

    Care to try again, Nick?

  35. If we ever get a President as “bad” as Ronald Reagan again, we’ll be sooooooooooooo lucky.

    1. The nuance of a particular space of time dictates greatness. Reagan was decent due to the arrangement of the political and social ethos. Reagan might have actually sucked given different circumstances and he definitely sucked at the War on Drugs.

  36. Let me suggest that the GOP’s Reagan fetish is not helping the party anymore. In fact, it is actively holding them back.

    Sorry, but this is a pretty silly suggestion.

    1. The GOP moving away from Reaganism, like moving away from Goldwaterism, pretty much consistently signals a bad turn of affairs for libertarianism in the Republican party. Reagan’s rhetoric, if not always his actions, was particularly favorable to libertarianism.
    2. Strangely, I never hear urgings that the Democrats abandon their Kennedy “fetish”. Kennedy died in 1963. Nick Gillespie wasn’t yet a thing for a good chunk of 1963.
    3. Pro-growth, limited government, strong defense Republicanism is one of the few mixes that actually wins elections for the GOP. It isn’t Reaganism that loses the GOP elections. It’s abandoning it for Kutur War and cronyism.

    1. I presume the move away from Reagan in Gillespie’s eyes is not to erase the memory of the man but merely to forge new and alternative ideological paths for a modern age composed of radically different environments which includes the complexity of the digital realms with its multi-tentacled aspects. Reagan was brilliant for his moment perhaps, but the modern moment is arriving at a profound apex where new visions can either fuck this thing up or vault America into the stratosphere of freedom and openness balanced finely against the backdrop of advanced governance.

      1. Point taken and respected, AC. I doubt Reagan would particularly mind the principles he espoused being updated for a different time (although it’s not clear to me that the underlying issues have really changed that much). The problem I have is that, in the context of GOP politics, the contrast for Republicans isn’t Reaganism versus some hypothetical perfect alternate. It’s Reaganism versus different strains of idiotic statism. The GOP elements advocating the party “get beyond” Reaganism are guys like Santorum or Trump. To me, that isn’t the path to moving into any stratosphere.

        My understanding of Reaganism (at least what I saw growing up) is that it essentially, as an ideological position. is the continuation of Goldwaterism. It’s the notion that it isn’t our government that is great, but our people who are great, and the key to any national greatness is for the government to just get the hell out of the way and let people work their magic. There’s nothing in that that is essentially tied to the 1980s. As such, I have no problem with making that notion relevant to the 2010s. But, if that’s what you’re talking about, you’re not really forging a new path, just making the same principles relevant to the facts on the ground.

        At least that’s my $0.02.

        1. sounds good to me

          and Reagan was also not afraid to say what he believed.

  37. …and handed the White House to a sitting vice president for the first time in 150 years.

    So long, WH Taft. Nice knowing ya, I guess.

    1. Don’t forget his son, Robert Taft.

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  39. “How Ronald Reagan’s Ghost Haunts the GOP”

    Reagan’s ghost haunts the Democrat party as well. If you ever discuss politics with one of them, it’s inevitable that they’ll eventually bring Reagan into the conversation with this seething hatred in their voice.

    It’s almost like there’s a Godwin’s Law variant: The longer you discuss politics with a Democrat, the more likely it is that they’ll blame some problem today on something Reagan did over two decades ago.

    It’s truly bizarre. It’s like some religious cult and Reagan is the Satan figure. Or it’s like 1984: they have to get their Two Minutes Hate in every day.

  40. ZOMG I love the Zardoz reference. I’ve only met a handful of people throughout my life that have even heard of the movie. I happen to love it, for it’s pure obscurity and weirdness if nothing else. always remember, gun is good! penis is evil! ha ha

    1. And of course for an extremely hirsute Sean Connery in a man-thong.

      1. Please don’t dredge that up.

  41. ‘If it’s old, fohgeddaboudit’ ~ Nick

    Well doesn’t that sound Obamaesque! As in, ‘No, that fake scandal is old news, so let’s talk about something else that’s in our favor.’

    Sorry Precious, but “that was a long time ago” doesn’t mean irrelevance. Plato, Socrates, and Jesus Christ [with or without the “H”] are still studied, we are still trying to figure out the pyramids, and Adolf Hitler is still evil. Rolling Stones are far older than Reagan’s presidency, yet they can still pack out a house.

    Reagan coming in with an incredible majority, straightening out a mess that would have had Obama pissing his girly pants, and scaring the hell out of America’s enemies just by walking in the room is the stuff of legends and will be relevant for a very long time. It just annoys you…. and I’m okay with that. Yet I think it is wonderfully special of you to take such an interest in the future success of Republican politics. I’m sure it’s as much from the heart as recommendations from Democrats as to whom they are “really afraid to run against”.

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