John Hinckley, who tried to kill Ronald Reagan in 1981, will be released from the mental hospital where he has been confined. He fired six shots, wounding the president and four others, including James Brady, who was seriously injured. His death two years ago from long-term complications was ruled a homicide. [Read more…]
Bill O’Reilly is considered a conservative, but he is challenging one of American conservatism’s biggest icons. In his bestselling book Killing Reagan, O’Reilly maintains that the assassination attempt 69 days into his presidency caused Reagan to be mentally impaired for the rest of his terms in office. O’Reilly describes the president being in a state of semi-dementia, with only moments of lucidity, to the point that his staff considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office on the grounds of being unable to perform the powers and duties of his office.
These charges have provoked an out-and-out shouting feud between O’Reilly and columnist George Will, who attacks O’Reilly’s research, says that the memo he used as evidence has been discredited, and says that actual historians and Reagan intimates (including his wife, a Reagan staffer) never witnessed any kind of impairment in the Great Communicator. [Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
A vial of Ronald Reagan’s blood was going to be auctioned online. After a time of outrage, the person who owned the vial–which was taken from the hospital that treated the president after the assassination attempt–had second thoughts and donated it to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
But, as Dana Milbank points out, that means that the blood is in conservative hands. With the genetic material found in the blood, wouldn’t we be able to clone Ronald Reagan?
All Republican candidates, seemingly, present themselves as Reagan come back. Why don’t we just take advantage of genetic engineering and come up with the real thing?
Milbank, a liberal, makes the case that today’s conservatives wouldn’t really want another Reagan, that the old one himself would prove too liberal by today’s standards, inasmuch as he occasionally raised taxes, passed environmental regulations, expanded Social Security and Medicare, and often compromised with Democrats.
I think the difference is that conservatives trusted Reagan when he found it necessary to do such things and they don’t trust anyone else.
I suspect it is true that character, let alone politics, is not exclusively in the genes, that it is shaped by life experiences and personal convictions. But let us assume that by cloning Reagan’s blood, we could get another Reagan. He would have to grow up first, of course, but in the meantime we could keep cloning so that we had a new version of the same man every eight years.
Such a mindset may account for the archaic notion of “royal blood”–the assumption that the son of a good ruler will be like his father, who, in a sense would still be present in the bloodline. But cloning would allow us to make a new kind of royal blood.
We could make the Reagan clone a king, in this sense, or we could retain our republic and just vote in another of his clones every four years. Or, to keep it fair and to keep democracy alive, we could also clone great Democrats. I’m sure FDR’s hair is on some brush of his in some museum.
This would be the solution of the common complaint today that there are no great leaders today anymore. We can just use modern technology to manufacture some.
Newt Gingrich is always wrapping himself in the mantle of Ronald Reagan, but at the time, when Newt was a Congressman, he was best known for criticizing Reagan’s policies and for putting down the president. So says Reagan administration official Elliott Abrams, who was there:
Here at home, we faced vicious criticism from leading Democrats — Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Jim Wright, Tip O’Neill, and many more — who used every trick in the book to stop Reagan by denying authorities and funds to these efforts. On whom did we rely up on Capitol Hill? There were many stalwarts: Henry Hyde, elected in 1974; Dick Cheney, elected in 1978, the same year as Gingrich; Dan Burton and Connie Mack, elected in 1982; and Tom DeLay, elected in 1984, were among the leaders.
But not Newt Gingrich. He voted with the caucus, but his words should be remembered, for at the height of the bitter struggle with the Democratic leadership Gingrich chose to attack . . . Reagan.
The best examples come from a famous floor statement Gingrich made on March 21, 1986. This was right in the middle of the fight over funding for the Nicaraguan contras; the money had been cut off by Congress in 1985, though Reagan got $100 million for this cause in 1986. Here is Gingrich: “Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire’s challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic change in strategy will continue to fail. . . . President Reagan is clearly failing.” Why? This was due partly to “his administration’s weak policies, which are inadequate and will ultimately fail”; partly to CIA, State, and Defense, which “have no strategies to defeat the empire.” But of course “the burden of this failure frankly must be placed first on President Reagan.” Our efforts against the Communists in the Third World were “pathetically incompetent,” so those anti-Communist members of Congress who questioned the $100 million Reagan sought for the Nicaraguan “contra” rebels “are fundamentally right.” Such was Gingrich’s faith in President Reagan that in 1985, he called Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”
Gingrich scorned Reagan’s speeches, which moved a party and then a nation, because “the president of the United States cannot discipline himself to use the correct language.” In Afghanistan, Reagan’s policy was marked by “impotence [and] incompetence.” Thus Gingrich concluded as he surveyed five years of Reagan in power that “we have been losing the struggle with the Soviet empire.” Reagan did not know what he was doing, and “it is precisely at the vision and strategy levels that the Soviet empire today is superior to the free world.”
There are two things to be said about these remarks. The first is that as a visionary, Gingrich does not have a very impressive record. The Soviet Union was beginning to collapse, just as Reagan had believed it must. The expansion of its empire had been thwarted. The policies Gingrich thought so weak and indeed “pathetic” worked, and Ronald Reagan turned out to be a far better student of history and politics than Gingrich.
The second point to make is that Gingrich made these assaults on the Reagan administration just as Democratic attacks were heating up unmercifully. Far from becoming a reliable voice for Reagan policy and the struggle against the Soviets, Gingrich took on Reagan and his administration.
In the context of a rather snarky column on congressional junkets, we learn that the ex-Communist countries of eastern Europe are putting on big celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, something we didn’t really do in the United States:
Yes, we’re told that the codel [congressional delegation], led by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), after a stop to mingle with the troops in Germany, was on hand Monday in Krakow, Poland, to kick off a week of celebrations across Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan. (The birthday was Feb. 6, but . . . it’s a big event.)
Krakow was home to Pope John Paul II for four decades. The events there celebrated the special relationship between Reagan and the pope in the fight against the Soviets.
The traveling party’s next stop was Budapest, where it arrived Tuesday to join the Hungarian parliament’s commemorative session for Reagan. Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was on hand to speak.
A Reagan statue is to be unveiled Wednesday in Freedom Square, where the Soviets left a monument to remind the Hungarians that the Russians saved them from the Nazis. Reagan is staring down that monument, we’re told, looking through it to the U.S. Embassy. The Hungarians are putting on a gala dinner.