Obama as the liberal Reagan

E. J. Dionne, Jr., says that President Obama–in his goals, tactics, and leadership style– is the liberal Reagan:

To understand how Barack Obama sees himself and his presidency, don’t look to Franklin Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln. Obama’s role model is Ronald Reagan — just as Obama told us before he was first elected.

Like Reagan, Obama hopes to usher in a long-term electoral realignment — in Obama’s case toward the moderate left, thereby reversing the 40th president’s political legacy. The Reagan metaphor helps explain the tone of Obama’s inaugural address, built not on a contrived call to an impossible bipartisanship but on a philosophical argument for a progressive vision of the country rooted in our history.

Reagan used his first inaugural to make an unabashed case for conservatism. Conservatives who loved that Reagan speech are now criticizing Obama for emulating their hero and his bold defense of first principles.

And like Reagan, Obama seeks to enact his program not by getting the opposition party’s leaders to support him but by winning over a minority of the less doctrinaire Republicans — especially representatives from the Northeast, West Coast and parts of the Midwest who sense where the political winds in their regions are blowing.

The relationship of Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill is often misrepresented. The Gipper and Tip got along okay, but that’s not how Reagan got most of his bills passed. O’Neill opposed most of what Reagan wanted. Reagan didn’t let this stop him, and the media at the time didn’t condemn Reagan for failing to negotiate O’Neill’s stamp of approval. Instead, Reagan pushed his measures through with the support of a minority of Democrats, most of them conservatives and moderates from the South, who knew their part of the country was moving Reagan’s way.

And Obama, like Reagan, is arguing that this moment demands a new approach to foreign policy. But if Reagan’s slogan was “peace through strength,” Obama’s might be summarized as strength through peace.

via E.J. Dionne: Obama follows in Reagan’s footsteps – The Washington Post.

Do you agree that we are seeing a political re-alignment and a shift in the country from being “center right” to “center left”?  Can conservatives handle being a minority?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    You mean the Republican Party that was a minority party for much of the 20th Century, even under Reagan? That minority party? The majority party that still acts like a minority party even though the status quo held? That Republican Party? The political party so immobilized by its neo-con fascinations that it no longer even has anything resembling a coherent policy framework outside interventionism, nativism and corporatism?

    And only Dionne would characterize Obama as “moderate” left after characterizing Reagan as some far-right ghoul for so many years. Obama’s model is FDR style bullying sans the fireside chat and coupled with some LBJ style chicanery.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    No, don’t see it. Reagan was inspiring; even those who did not agree with him found him generally friendly and good natured. I don’t see that with Obama, and I’m not just saying that because of my disagreement with his politics.

  • mikeb

    Obama is more Eddie Haskell than Ronald Reagan. Sure, he “says” the right things but you know there’s (political) mischief lurking.

  • fjsteve

    No, he’s an empty suit. An actor filling a role, delivering words written by Hollywood-style speechwriters and carefully chosen to evoke the proper emotional response. Selected by his handlers, the proper face for the proper time to continue the same job and deliver the same message as his predecessors.

    He’s just an actor.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Bedtime for Obonzo.

  • DonS

    I also don’t see the comparisons between Obama and Reagan. Reagan had a set of bedrock principles which he communicated clearly and consistently. However, he also recognized reality — the Congress was mostly in Democratic hands, and if he wanted to enact policy he had to work with Democrats. He did so.

    On the other hand, Obama seldom sets forth any kind of moral principle or imperative. His is a politics of convenience and hiding the ball. As an example, he claimed during his first campaign that he was opposed to gay marriage. No one believed him, but that’s what he claimed. However, when he felt is was politically expedient to shift his position, he did so, claiming that his views were “evolving”. His “principle”, if you can call it that, is to use the power of big government to accrue as many political favors and adherents as he can, and to run a continuous political campaign to destroy his opponents rhetorically, aided by a sycophantic press. One, apparently, that is blinded enough to see his tactics as being, somehow, “Reaganesque”.

    Are we seeing a political re-alignment? Nah. We are seeing the usual pendulum-swing of power. As was pointed out above, Republicans were almost entirely in the minority in Congress for over 50 years beginning in the 1930′s, though they won a majority of the presidencies during that period. Since 1992, Democrats will have held the presidency, by the end of Obama’s second term, for 16 of the 24 years, but Republicans have held one or both houses of Congress except for the period between 2007 and 2009 during that entire time. Republicans hold a historically high number of governorships (about 30, I think), and of state legislatures. This is a 50-50 country, still, and the Democrats’ belief that they are ascending is causing them to seriously overreach. Of course, this overreaching will galvanize their opponents and begin the shift back toward conservatism, which should start to be apparent in the 2014 mid-term election.

  • Tom Hering

    Don, haven’t you learned anything yet about predicting conservative victory? ;-)

  • Cincinnatus

    fjsteve@4:

    I’m wondering if you note the irony in your comment? That’s the joke, right?

  • DonS

    Tom @ 7: I didn’t bet money ;-)

    But, politics is cyclical and Republicans do hold a historically high number of state governorships and legislative seats. Pronouncing them dead is a bit premature. I’ll take the Republican bench over the Democratic bench any day.

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS and Tom,

    Right, as an effective political party, Republicans aren’t exactly lost in the woods. They aren’t quite as unhinged as Democrats were in 1984; they have a majority in the House, and (liberal) political science colleagues of mine predict that they’ll take the Senate in 2014. And, of course, they dominate a large majority of state legislatures and governorships.

    As an effective political party worthy of my vote, however, they’re on another planet entirely.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 10: Yes, I wouldn’t expect that they would get your vote. And that’s understandable. The only reason they get mine is that I see them as the only potentially effective alternative to Democrats, who are intent on destroying the founding principles of this country, as well as its economy and work ethic.

    As to the Senate in 2014, by all rights they should take it. Republicans are defending 13 seats, all in red states except for Maine, where Susan Collins (since she is a popular Democrat with an “R” after her name) should win re-election easily. Democrats are defending 20 seats, 6 of them in red states, and 1 in Virginia (a red state in non-presidential elections). With Harkin’s retirement, Iowa is an open seat, and potentially gettable. Colorado, New Mexico, New Mexico, and Michigan are also potentially gettable in the mid-term election of a president’s second term. And, like I said, the Republican bench is full of young, vibrant potential candidates, gaining experience in governorships and state legislatures. The Democrats, not so much.

  • dust

    Not sure about the popular vote in the first election, but in the re-election, the current POTUS popular vote, or electoral vote, did not come even close to Reagan’s :)

    cheers!

  • fjsteve

    Cincinnatus@8: Too subtle? ;)

  • Grace

    Obama is nothing like President Reagan. He may try to emulate him, but it’s a transparency, to be sure. Reagan was never a socialist, he never espoused the beliefs of socialism. Obama on the other hand might as well wear a sign attached to his back!

    We wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today, IF Obama was like Pres. Reagan.

  • Grace

    Reagan’s Childhood Home to Become Parking Lot for Obama’s Library
    Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 11:20 AM

    By Marti Lotman

    The University of Chicago Medical Center has announced plans to turn Ronald Reagan’s childhood home in Chicago into a parking lot for President Barack Obama’s library.

    The Commission on Chicago Landmarks previously denied the Gipper’s home landmark status in 2012, according to The Washington Times, and the university subsequently scheduled demolition to begin in January. Officials claim the home does not reach landmark status because it is not architecturally significant and the nation’s 40th president did nothing notable while living there.

    http://www.newsmax.com/US/reagan-obama-library-demolition/2013/01/30/id/488082

    Nothing like slapping the face of one of the finest presidents this country has had in recent years.

    What is notable about Obama? Can you name 10, that have benefited this nation? What will they have as the center piece for Obama’s library? – “Dreams from My Father” :?: That should stand out as a beacon of light!

  • Tom Hering

    Oh sheesh. Fact #1: the university is currently only lobbying to become the site for the Obama presidential library. Fact #2: The university has purchased the property that was Reagan’s boyhood home, and will indeed convert it to parking, but no one knows if that parking will serve the library or the rest of the university, because (obviously!) no one knows if the university will be chosen as the site for the library. (And even if it is chosen, no can say yet if the library will be served by this particular parking area or another.) But this hasn’t stopped one right wing site after another (try a Google search) from jumping to conclusions. Nor my friend Grace from believing every bogus thing that comes along, and repeating it here.

  • Grace

     ‏

    There is nothing “bogus” about the article. Your problem is the goofy job you have, as a NITTY PICKER. Do you get paid, or do you perform your duties as a service :?:
    :lol:
     ‏

  • Tom Hering

    No, there’s nothing bogus about the article, Grace, except one or two basic facts in it. But facts are such nit-picky things, aren’t they? :-D

  • passing throgh

    Don’t worry about the facts, Gracie. Your mind was already made up…long ago.

  • Grace

    passing throgh @ 19

    My mind was made up long ago regarding Øbama – he doesn’t come close to President Reagan, in any positive way – he neither has the integrity, honesty, but most of all, he doesn’t have the ability to handle the presidency of this country. It’s all too evident in his performance. Socialism is his trademark.

  • dust

    Correct Grace as to the nit-picky charge! So the University may or may not use that parking lot for the Library, if they do win the rights? Oh wow, what an distinction without a difference!

    The boyhood house will be torn down anyway, if the University has it’s way, and that is what would concern loyal supporters of Ronald Reagan. My guess is Grace’s support goes back to his days as Governor of California as well?

    You should do the right thing Tom and “feel her pain” and not get all nit-picky….unless it is your job to increase the number of comments on the blog :)

    cheers!

  • Grace

    Dust @21

    One of the interesting facts about the site: it’s very close to Øbama’s home – now we wouldn’t want anything to detract, from Øbama’s library, especially President Reagan.

    In regards to Tom’s comment: “unless it is your job to increase the number of comments on the blog :lol: very good observation, my friend. All those little ‘clicks make a difference.

  • Tom Hering

    Dust and Grace. If it’s simply not true that Reagan’s boyhood home is being torn down to provide parking for an Obama presidential library, because while a decision has been made to tear down the home, no decision has been made about where to locate the library, then that’s not nit-picking the story. That’s calling it what it is: bogus right-wing sensationalism.

  • Carl Vehse

    “E. J. Dionne, Jr., says that President Obama–in his goals, tactics, and leadership style– is the liberal Reagan”

    In a more reasonable comparison Obama – in his goals, tactics, and leadership style – is the liberal Stalin.

  • passing throgh

    Right, Gracie. You just proved my #19.

    And I love your intellectual brilliance — Obama socialist.

    Doh.

  • Trey

    Carl is right on!

  • Grace

    passing through @ 25

    I find it interesting that you’re unable to call me by my correct name, which is Grace, – or you are in middle school, using the apprach of a juvenile on the playgraound? – most likely!

  • Grace

    Carl @ 24 “In a more reasonable comparison Obama – in his goals, tactics, and leadership style – is the liberal Stalin.”

    I agree with Trey @26.

  • Grace

    My post @ 27 should have read:

    “or you are in middle school, using the approach of a juvenile on the playgraound?

  • dust

    Tom…seriously, the thrust of the story (of course it is a matter of individual interpretation) is that the house, a small but sacred piece of Reagan supporter’s paradise, is being torn down to put up a parking lot, we can all agree on that, right, including Joni Mitchell, most likely!

    Now whether or not a lot of Obama’s supporters autos end up parking their sweet you know whats on it in the future is not certain, but it is at least plausible….certainly more plausible than them doing that kind of thing at any of our homes?

    So in my mind, you overlooked the main point in order to nit-pick and then pass judgement on everyone’s motivation with your own sensationalistic claim in 23…

    On the other hand, perhaps it’s me being too nit-picky :)

    cheers!

  • Abby

    I wish Obama would be like Reagan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU0tuah-x7M

  • Grace

    NO Dust @30, “On the other hand, perhaps it’s me being too nit-picky”

    It’s not you at all. ;) it’s the ‘clickers who have cause the whole thing :lol:

  • Tom Hering

    This is going to be your response to criticism from now on, Grace? Saying your critics are just trying to rack up clicks for Dr. Veith? Good grief. At least your anti-Lutheran bigotry was more interesting, and your “poor whoever” more amusing.

  • tODD

    Grace said (@27):

    I find it interesting that you’re unable to call me by my correct name, which is Grace, – or you are in middle school, using the apprach of a juvenile on the playgraound? – most likely!

    She also said (@20, 22):

    My mind was made up long ago regarding Øbama … it’s very close to Øbama’s home – now we wouldn’t want anything to detract, from Øbama’s library …

    Oh, hello, hypocrite! How’s that petard treatin’ ya?

  • Grace

    Tom @33

    Dust was the one who first brought up the point @21 “unless it is your job to increase the number of comments on the blog

    I posted to Dust, saying: ” good observation, my friend. All those little ‘clicks make a difference.”

    Tom, now you write @ 33: “This is going to be your response to criticism from now on, Grace? Saying your critics are just trying to rack up clicks for Dr. Veith?

    It’s YOU Tom, who have brought Dr. Veith’s name up, Dust nor I did so. :lol:

  • dust

    Re: 34…..me think you should use a person’s preferred name when addressing them directly, they will be reading your comment and it is just the polite thing to do, common courtesy even perhaps?

    Political figures and others in the public arena are different….for one thing, the comment is not made directly at them and is only a reference to them, but most importantly, one can be fairly confident they will not read your comment, that is unless, you are some sort of narcissist with a much overinflated sense of your own importance :)

    cheers!

  • dust

    oops was in a hurry to leave for an appointment! sorry, 36 should have ended with….like me :)

    cheers!


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