As expected, a number of Republicans in the Blogsosphere have begun to compare their preferred candidate to the patron saint of Successful Conservatism, Ronald Wilson Reagan. The only problem is, Ron’s not running this year, neither in person nor by proxy. Let’s run down the GOP slate and see how the pretenders stack up to The Man:
Mike Huckabee: Huckabeemers are proud that their boy won the Iowa caucus, but the guy still creeps out too many Republicans, and there is little in common between the Huckster and the Gipper. True, both men were Governors, and 4 out of our last 5 Presidents were Governors from Southern or Western states, but that’s where it ends. Note how Hucky likes to trash Dubya? Seems he forgot Reagan’s 11th Commandment. Ronnie never liked Gerald Ford all that much, for example, but even when Reagan ran for the White House in 1976 he was respectful of the President, something which seems well beyond the ability of Governor Huckabee. Iowa may well be the high point for the Huckabeemers, or at least we can hope so.
Rudy Giuliani: The GOP front-runner coming into the fall of 2007, Rudy’s people like to point out Rudy’s strong credentials for personal bravery and a refusal to play along with the media in hopes of winning votes. But Giuliani is a social liberal in most respects, and that kills any further comparison between him and Reagan.
Mitt Romney: Romney has been trying hard lately to sell himself as a new version of Reagan, but Massachusets is not California, and Romney’s no Reagan Republican. For one thing, Romney changed his mind – as he has a right to do – on a number of issues, but unlike Reagan, who made the changes a number of years before he ran for President, Romney’s switches are recent enough to justify the ‘flipper’ tag pinned on Kerry. Romney, for example, opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2003 (he also approved of increasing the federal gasoline tax), but now sells himself as a proponent of lower taxes. He brags that as Governor of Massachussets, he balanced the budget without raising taxes, but that’s not completely true, since Romney increased revenues by implementing new fees and increasing existing fees, as well as closing “loopholes” in the tax law which resulted in taxpayers paying more. And if the taxpayer is paying more, that’s higher taxes by any reasonable definition, no matter how you got there. Yet Romney refuses to admit his past actions, much less explain how his present promises square with his performance. Especially his “universal healthcare” plan as Governor. Look, when a candidate creates a health plan that applies to everyone regardless of what they want, and it increases government control of personal lives, that’s a lot closer to Hillary than it is to Ronnie.
John McCain: “The Gang of 14”. Enough said.
Ron Paul: Ronald Reagan defeated the enemies of America. Ron Paul wants to run from them. Ronald Reagan energized the economy and freed opportunity for personal wealth creation, while Ron Paul embraces financial theories disproven centuries ago. And like Huckabee, Paul ignores Reagan’s 11th Commandment.
Fred Thompson: The Fredheads love to pretend Fred is the return of Ronnie. Don’t be fooled by that for even a moment. Yes, both men were actors and love striaght talk, but Reagan was a Governor, Thompson was a Senator. Reagan’s 1980 campaign was his second run for the White House, following a powerful performance in 1976, while Thompson’s 2008 run is his first, and has lacked punch at many spots so far. Fred’s other problem is Abortion, where his credentials are most un-Reaganlike.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Each of these candidates (except Paul) has qualities which could serve America well, and any of them (except possibly Paul) would be preferable to anything the Democrats could nominate this election. But none of these men rises to the level of George W. Bush, let alone Ronald W. Reagan. It’s disingenuous for any of them to even pretend so.