Darn it, Reagan wouldn't recognize this party

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Reagan would not have understood this, any more than he would the refusal of one party to talk to the other. This was a man who knocked off after-hours whisky with “Tip” O’Neill, the Democratic Speaker of the House. John Boehner, the current Republican occupant, did once play golf with President Barack Obama and was pilloried by his own party for doing so. They have not linked up since.

He did appoint some ideologues to his administration, but it was also notable that he got rid of them – David Stockman, his first budget director, James Watt, secretary of the interior and Alexander Haig, the erratic secretary of state. He came to rely more and more on the pragmatists, George Shultz in charge of foreign policy and the “fabulous Baker boys”, James and Howard, to keep the train on track. Today, all three would be considered Rinos (Republicans in name only).

Finally it is worth enumerating all the things Mr Reagan might have done but did not. He did not abolish the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Education, as his rightwing then advocated. He did not take any moves to outlaw abortion at home, even though he courted the religious right, then seriously beginning to feel its political oats.