Obama echoes my own refrain: Reagan couldn’t win in today’s Republican Party

On numerous occasions in the past year or so, I’ve argued here that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that even Ronald Reagan couldn’t win a GOP primary election in most states these days.

President Obama has either read this blog or has to come to the same conclusion on his own, as we see HERE:

President Barack Obama said Tuesday Republicans want to force a “radical vision” on the nation, accusing the opposition party of moving so far to the right that even one of its beloved figures, Ronald Reagan, could not win a GOP presidential primary.

In a blistering election-year critique, Obama sought to present himself to voters as the protector of the middle class and the leader of a Democratic Party that is willing to compromise in Washington. He singled out the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, for criticism and more broadly said Republicans had shifted from any reasonable debate on health care, debt reduction and the environment.

Republicans “will brook no compromise,” Obama told news executives at the annual meeting of The Associated Press.

He cited a Republican presidential debate late last year when the entire field rejected the prospect of $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases as a means to lower the debt.

“Think about that. Ronald Reagan, who as I recall was not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases,” Obama said. “He did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today.”

ADDENDUM: I can’t resist this opportunity to pass along again a bit of  SNIDE MOCKERY of a few years ago from Slade Sohmer, who said Reagan’s tenure in the White House would have to be considered “the worst presidency in American history” by current conservative standards:

This president is a president every conservative Republican and Tea Party member should loathe.

This president nearly tripled the national debt. This president signed an immigration reform bill that granted blanket amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. This president talked with our enemies. This president raised taxes 11 times. This president, in fact, raised payroll taxes in order to pay for government-run health care. This president presided over double-digit unemployment. This president expanded the size of government and created new federal departments. This president cut and ran, withdrawing troops from hostile regions. This president put two justices on the Supreme Court that voted to uphold Roe v. Wade. This president closed tax loopholes to ensure “every corporation pay their fair share.” This president even advocated gun control on the op-ed pages of the, gasp, New York Times.


[C]ompared to the Palins, Limbaughs, Bachmanns, Tea Party leaders and Fox News commentators that make up the current ideological head of the conservative mega-beast, Reagan is at best a centrist. At worst — strictly looking at governance, not ideology — he governed far more liberally than the job-killing, tax-raising, enemy-appeasing, immigrant-loving Barack Obama.

Can you imagine the vitriol from Fox News if President Obama granted amnesty to illegal immigrants? Can you imagine the venom on Tea Party signs if President Obama raised taxes 11 times, called out corporations for tax loopholes and nearly tripled the national debt? Can you imagine the uproar from talk radio if President Obama actually wrote an op-ed advocating any restrictions on the sale of handguns? The right-wing echo chamber might implode upon itself in a fit of blind rage.



  1. expdoc

    Could Obama win in Kennedy’s Democratic party?

  2. Decidedly not. The Democratic Party in John Kennedy’s day included way too many racist segregationists. The great migration of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party had not yet started in those days. It began with the Goldwater candidacy in 1964 and gained steam with Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.”

    But no, Barack Obama could not have succeeded in those times, even if he were a white guy. It was a much different and much more conservative Democratic Party 50 years ago.

    And the Republican Party in Ronald Reagan’s days — or even more recently than that — was much less extreme than it is today.

  3. expdoc

    And so the point of this post is moot?

    Reagan was a great President for his time and for his party of the time. He is a worthy 2 term President for any current politician to emulate.

    One wonders what historians will say about President Obama? It is obviously way too early to say, particularly if the Supreme Court throws out or disembowels “Obamacare” and/or he has another term to add to his legacy.

  4. Neftali

    Kennedy also drastically cut taxes on the wealthy, something not tolerated by liberals today.

  5. No, the point of this post is NOT moot. The point is that the GOP has moved waaay to the right since Reagan was president. He would be considered a RINO by today’s conservative standards.

    Today’s Republicans only pretend to emulate Reagan. They worship the myth, not the reality. They ignore the fact that Reagan regularly compromised with Democrats. Today, compromise is a four-letter word. They ignore his tax hikes. They ignore his arms deals with the Russkies (which were opposed, by the way, by lots of right-wingers back then). They ignore his relatively liberal approach to illegal immigration. They ignore his quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Lebanon when 241 Marines were killed there in a terrorist attack. They ignore his deficits. They ignore the fact that the government grew on his watch. They ignore everything about the man except his charm and his beguiling rhetoric.

    The Reagan record was far more moderate, if not liberal, than the positions staked out by this year’s crop of GOP presidential hopefuls. Even Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham have said that Reagan would have a hard time winning in today’s Republican Party.

  6. Neftali

    Kennedy also started on overseas conflict, the Vietnam war, which is also not tolerated by most on the left.

  7. Neftali

    Pat – Then explain how the Republicans are about to nominate a moderate candidate. Again.

    First McCain, now Romney. Any Republican who even remotely follows politics knows that Romney is a moderate, and that he’s just saying whatever just to get nominated. He’s not fooling anyone.

    The point is that if Romney can get nominated today, Reagan can too.

  8. Neftali: Vietnam was not much of an issue when Kennedy was living. There was no significant antiwar movement on the left at the time. That stuff didn’t begin to take hold until 1965. Trust me. I know. I was there.

  9. Neftali: You’re ignoring the fact that Romney subcribes, sincerely or not, to just about every right-wing position there is. He swears on his mother’s grave that he actually believes all that crap. If he were to admit to any moderate impulses, he couldn’t win the nomination. His party has moved so far to the right that he’s had to parrot all the extremist nonsense. Lots of righties still don’t trust him, but they can’t say he doesn’t pay lip service to most of their pet issues. Nor is he going to wax moderate in the general-election campaign. That would only persuade the righties to stay at home on election day. He can’t even run away from Paul Ryan’s budget plan. He’s trapped. He’s flipped his last flop. Any more switcheroos on his part will only confirm the narrative that he has no ideological core.

  10. Bottom line: If the economy continues to improve, even if only modestly, Obama can’t lose — barring some ungodly scandal, which doesn’t seem likely.

  11. Reagan has a legacy so distorted by the Conservative idolization of him that we may never have a clear picture of the real man behind the television set beyond the elaborate myth now concocted around him. Did he really rid the world of commie scum? Did destroy or save our economy? Check out my portrait of The Gipper in commemoration of the Reagan Centennial and help me figure it out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/02/happy-100th-gipper.html

  12. Ron Paul (Republican, real Conservative) will tell you that he was all for your “myth” of Reagan (campaign version of Reagan), but split from his “in practice” version of being President.

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