Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ronald Reagan Was A Pragmatist?

From: Right View From The Left Coast

Beware Of Reagan Revisionism From The Left

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of former President Ronald Reagan, the left in ramping up revisionist history to try to use against those that are now the leaders of the Republican party. Those of us that came of age politically during the Reagan presidency.
The latest installment is courtesy of the Left Angeles Times and Jacob Helibrunn.

The column is a lefty attempt to paint a picture of Ronald Reagan not really believing in all that conservative stuff. You know, like cutting the size of government. Returning many responsibilities that used to be the states usurped by the federal government. A strong foreign policy that always put American interests first. Nah, according to Mr. Heilbrunn. Never believe that. It was all a wink and a nod.
Firstly, this column's main point is that the Dear Leader, President Obama, is really just like the Great Man. A real pragmatist. Not an ideologue at all.

Rubbish.

Mr. Heilbrunn, actually correctly, points out that Mr. Reagan did compromise on some issues. What Mr. Heilbrunn fails to point out that the House of Representatives was dominated by Democrats all eight years of the Great Man's tenure in the White House. And while the senate was Republican for six of eight years of the Reagan tenure, it should be pointed out that the RINOs* were a stronger force within the Republican party than it is today.

While Mr. Reagan led a Republican landslide in 1980, a lot of those that won election were out by 1982 in the House and 1986 in the senate. So, of course Mr. Reagan could have not gotten everything that he wanted. And he did compromise and even made mistakes. But that does not go against the fact that Mr. Reagan was a solid conservative Republican.

Take a domestic policy issue, abortion.

The United States was in the early stage of the awful Roe vs Wade decision that made abortion legal in all the United States. And ended state laws on the issue. An overwhelming majority of Americans supported the decision and did not realize the end result. Mr. Reagan knew that his position against abortion was a minority one. Even within his own party. Thus he knew that he could not legislatively reverse Roe vs Wade. He spoke about it. Wrote about it in this piece. And in a way that lefties could never get, he was able to shape a lot of the federal judiciary. The same judiciary that made the mistake in the first place. And the so-called lip service that Mr. Reagan paid to banning unfettered access to abortion is what I believed has changed so many American minds on the subject. Now a majority of Americans support stronger restrictions on abortion. What that means is sometimes, some things can not be legislated. And Mr. Reagan knew that it would not change in his presidency. But he set up the future debate and it was President George W. Bush that signed legislation banning the so-called late-term abortions in the United States. And yes, this is the same Ronald Reagan that did sign the most liberal abortion law to date in the United States in 1967. So, he did change his mind and took a much more traditional position on abortion.

On taxes, yes I believe that Mr. Reagan did make a mistake as governor and as president by agreeing to massive tax hikes. But, what Mr. Helibrunn does not like to admit, as president Mr. Reagan supported the Kemp-Roth tax bill that cut taxes across the board for all Americans. And also was successful in the tax reform act of 1986 that made the highest tax rate only 28%. That was from a high of 70% when Mr. Reagan had taken office in 1981. But, Mr. Helibrunn throws in the lefty canard that because of all the tax reform, the deficit ballooned and that former President Bill Clinton had to clean up the mess. Oh yeah, darn, Mr. Clinton had a Republican congress to help him out. And a huge peace dividend from the demise of the Soviet Union.

But never fear, Mr. Reagan was really a dove on foreign policy according to Mr. Heilbrunn.

Mr. Heilbrunn claims that somehow, Mr. Reagan ended the Cold War and the defeat of Soviet Communism by "making common cause with the enemy" as Mr. Heilbrunn puts it.

Hmm, not really.

While Mr. Heilbrunn points out that Mr. Reagan wanted to cut a deal to eliminate nuclear weapons in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1987, he fails to explain why the deal was not done. Because Mr. Reagan thought that it was not in the best interests of the United States. And had he listened to those on the left, he would not have fought to reduce nuclear weapons but to just stop their growth. On this, Mr. Reagan was right and some of us on the right may have been wrong.

Mr. Reagan, who opined in March of 1983 that "Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written", and later that month referred to the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire was tough on the Soviets and waited for the right time and the right leader. That leader was Mikhail Gorbachev. While Comrade Gorby thought he was just reforming Soviet Communism, Mr. Reagan was working to end it. To roll it back. Mr. Heilbrunn, seemingly conveniently, forgets the infamous "Tear down this wall" speech Mr. Reagan gave in front of the evil Berlin Wall in 1987. Again, a pragmatist would have never uttered such words.

And here is another convenient aspect of the Reagan era that Mr. Heilbrunn does not bring up. The federal judiciary.

Mr. Reagan appointed 376 judges to the federal bench, the most of any president. And he did try to bring a conservative balance to the supreme court. Yes, he did appoint Sandra Day O'Connor to the supreme court. But he also elevated William Rehnquist as chief justice. And the big fight was over Robert Bork. The Democrats knew that a Justice Bork could have the court become a solid conservative majority. And led by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the Dems and the left did all they could to smear Judge Bork and he was denied the appointment to the supreme court. And when Mr. Reagan tried to nominate Douglas Ginsburg from the Washington D. C. Court of Appeals, he never got out of the starting gate. Judge Ginsburg revealed that he used marijuana while in law school. Hmm, maybe Judge Ginsburg should have been nominated by President Clinton. Oh, but he did not inhale the ganja weed. Right. And thus, Mr. Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the court. Lesson here. Never get to third choice. And unfortunately, Mr. Reagan did. And we have been stuck with this justice since.

As an aside, do you know that Alabama Republican senator Jeff Sessions was nominated to a federal district court by Mr. Reagan in 1986? Well, after a similar smear campaign as used to defeat Judge Bork, Mr. Sessions was not even voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Revenge is sweet because now, Sen. Sessions now is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In truly celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth, we have to take all about Mr. Reagan, look at the context of the time and realize that he did accomplish a lot then and for the future. Especially the future of the Republican party. And we must reject leftist attempts to muddle, blur or even lie about that record. We must remind those Americans that did not live during the Reagan presidency that it was a conservative in the White House, not some closet liberal. And we must counter starting with the kind of revisionist pieces by lefties like Jacob Heilbrunn. It is going to be a long year of that.

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