The fact that Reagan often took the actions grudgingly speaks to what, by modern Republican standards, may be one of the greatest heresies of all: At bottom, Reagan was a pragmatist, willing, when necessary, to cut a deal and compromise.

“He had a strong set of core values and operated off of those,” said Stuart Spencer, a GOP strategist who stood by Reagan’s side for virtually his entire political career, starting with his first run for governor. “But when push came to shove, he did various things he didn’t like doing, because he knew it was in the best interests of the state or country at the time.”

Spencer, with characteristic bluntness, dismissed the current vogue of Reagan revisionism: “A lot of those people running out there don’t really understand what he did. It’s just a matter of attaching themselves to a winner.”…

“People that pragmatic now are what they call RINOs,” said Spencer, using the epithet, “Republican in Name Only,” that is flung by keepers of the faith at those deemed less than pure.