Sarah Palin came out with a blurb yesterday saying that Ronald Reagan would be ashamed of the way Republicans have acted in this primary. The point she was trying to make is that Republican candidates have spent much of their time trying to attack and tear each other down. Given that attacking and tearing people down is the ONLY skill Republicans seem to have anymore, it’s hardly been surprising that they’ve turned on each other during this campaign.
But what about the comparison between today’s Republican Party, and their idol, Ronnie Reagan? How do the views of today’s Republican Party compare to their idol? To start, it’s laughable to see Tea Partiers and conservatives and their reverence of Reagan, when Reagan’s actual record was MUCH different from the idealized record right-wing wackos seem to focus on. Fiscal conservative? Uh…not so much. The U.S. debt more than doubled under Reagan. The THREE LARGEST annual percentage increases in U.S. debt since the mid 1970s? All during the Reagan administration. Ethics and morality, a self-proclaimed cornerstone of conservatism? 29 criminal convictions of Reagan appointees, Iran-Contra and other.
So how do today’s Republicans stack up? From a policy standpoint? They seemingly would LIKE to emulate Reagan! They ARE a disaster for the environment (remember James Watts? A shiver just went up my spine). They WILL ruin the economy. They WILL drastically raise the federal debt, just like their idol Ronnie did (a fact conservatives somehow forget)!! They WILL give tax breaks to the rich, and make the less fortunate suffer!! There IS ample corruption in today’s GOP, ala the Reagan years. You want a return of the “good ol’ days” under Ronnie? The current crop of GOP’ers IS what you want!
The only real difference? As the Gary Trudeau Doonesbury strip above shows, Ronnie was just so darn likable!! Sure, he wasn’t very bright!! But gosh darn it, he was SO likable, a guy you’d like to sit down and “have a beer with” (the same “high praise” given to George Bush). His flaws? His wacky astrology beliefs? His complete and utter disregard for the environment, or for anyone other than the rich? For Republicans, what would you rather have, someone competent? Or someone you really, really liked?? Obviously the latter!
And THAT is the difference in today’s crop of presidential candidates. Would anyone really like to sit down and have a beer with Newt Gingrich? Mitt Romney? Rick Santorum? Michelle Bachmann? Herman Cain? Are ANY of these folks even REMOTELY “likable?!?!?!
And here lies the biggest problem for Republicans. They haven’t FOUND their 2012 version of Reagan. They haven’t FOUND someone with enough charisma, that their actual political qualifications are overlooked. It’s the Republicans worst nightmare! Their current crop of candidates are being judged NOT on their personality, but on (GASP!!!!!) their actual qualifications and beliefs!! And when the American public focuses on the substance and not the fluff, they find the GOP candidates lacking.