Ronald Reagan has become cool over the past few years, with the media giving him unusually fond treatment for his upcoming centennial. They have even started comparing Barack Obama to Reagan, as was the case with Time Magazine’s cover last month. Obama got into the act himself, penning an essay for USA Today that sung Reagan’s praises as an inspiration, for his leadership, and for his skill as a communicator. Byron York notes that Obama’s hosanna directly contradicts his best-selling book’s take on Reagan:
Obama’s view of Reagan today is far different from the discussion of Reagan in Obama’s 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father. In that book, Obama says his strong feelings about the Republican president were part of the reason he decided to become a community organizer. “When classmates in college asked me just what it was that a community organizer did, I couldn’t answer them directly,” Obama wrote. “Instead, I’d pronounce on the need for change. Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds…”
In another part of the book, Obama criticized Reagan for “verbal legerdemain.” By that, he was accusing Reagan of intentionally maintaining a gap between his sunny rhetoric and the actions of his administration. Now, President Obama praises Reagan’s “faith in the American promise.”
Obama’s op-ed, published on the eve of the state of the union address and also in recognition of Reagan’s upcoming 100th birthday, is written with today’s politics in mind. Without specifically mentioning the new Republican majority in the House and strengthened GOP contingent in the Senate, the president urges today’s politicians to remember Reagan’s ability to compromise and forgo angry words. What Obama doesn’t mention is he once had some angry words for Reagan himself.
What Obama doesn’t mention is that all of this Reagan posturing is just that — posturing. Obama needs to be seen as a centrist with appeal to independents, so he writes something nice about Reagan and hopes no one compares notes between the essay and his book. But the hypocrisy isn’t limited to that disconnect, either. Obama routinely rails about the policies that Reagan pushed forward, such as deregulation, supply-side economics, and missile defense, just to name a few. Those were key elements of Reagan’s “leadership in the world,” and Reagan’s genius went far beyond “his gift for communicating his vision” of “morning in America.” Reagan actually delivered on that renewal, for which a callow and shallow Barack Obama would later castigate Reagan and his “minions.”
Suddenly, it’s Minionville in Obama’s America.
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