Chanting Points Memo: “Reagan Was A Moderate!”

Two things that make me think “something’s just not right here”, and warrant some investigation:

  • Teenagers asking “so, are you going out Friday night?”
  • Liberals citing Reagan.

Lately, there’s been a plague of liberals, in print/blogs/on Twitter, stating without fear of contradiction (because, if you’re a Twin Cities liberal, nobody has ever contradicted you) that “today’s conservatives would never nominate Ronald Reagan”.

It’s a claim based on two dubious premises:

  • Reagan wasn’t especially tough on abortion
  • The claim that “Reagan raised taxes”

We dispensed with the second point last week; leaving aside that the “Reagan tax hikes” were entirely a result of Reagan keeping up his end of a bargain and the Democrats welching on theirs, Reagan’s tax cuts were 50% bigger, in terms of percent of the budget, than his tax hikes.  The fact that the hikes accounted for in absolute dollars than in percentage in fact proves the conservative point; Reagan’s tax cuts contributed to the economy reversing from the Carter era malaise to the mid-eighties boom – a boom that could absorb some hikes (whether it was a wise idea or not) – certainly better than it could have in the middle of a recession.

As to the abortion issue – that, again,shows how little the left understands the Tea Party.  Abortion is a key conservative issue – but when the economy is in the tank, it’s not the most important issue facing the Chief Executive.  As Reagan allocated political capital among his key priorities – the economy, defeating communism – his metaphorical “abortion” budget was squeezed down to “using the bully pulpit against the practice”…

…which is pretty much where today’s Tea Partiers are with the issue; mortally opposed, but focused on other things at the moment.

The lesson?  As your liberal friends start parrotting these memes, by all means set ’em straight.

(Closed-circuit to liberal commenters: Go ahead.  Point out that “Reagan legalized abortion in California”.  I dare you)

16 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: “Reagan Was A Moderate!”

  1. I had a great laught yesterday morning when Davis and Emmer ran an old Reagan sound bite of an interview with Sam Donaldson, at least it sure sounded like him.
    Sam: Much has been made about the deficit and out of control spending. Do you take any part of the blame for that?
    President Reagan: Well, yes. I used to be a Democrat.
    Anyone can argue with me all day long, but I will state that his statement is one of the most profound political statements, ever!

  2. I wonder what the ratio would be, comparing Democrats turning Republican vs. Republicans turning Democrat.

  3. The party that nominated Bush I, Bush II, Dole and McCain would balk at nominating Reagan? C’mon.

  4. Listen I was 2 when Reagan left office so I have little opinion of him. My dad hates his guts (even being a conservative, he liked H. W Bush A LOT) but even credits him with breaking the USSR’s back on defense spending. But I have 2 words for you all that should question his greatness, “Iran-Contra”. That made Watergate look like child’s play.

  5. Abortion has NEVER been the “most” important issue…except during election campaigns. That the right wants to stop abortions is a meme they have promulgated every couple of years. It plays well to their constituency.

  6. “Conservatives believe opposition to abortion trumps EVERYTHING!”
    “Conservatives don’t believe in opposing abortion AT ALL!”
    It’s called “doublethink”. Orwell coined the term in “Nineteen-Eighty Four”.

  7. I think that Leslie Hittner might have stumbled, accidentally, on the folly of treating abortion as a constitutional right. There is no way legislative path, on the state or the federal level, to making abortion illegal. All the legislators can do is nibble around the edges of legalized abortion, by restricting the use of federal funds for abortion services. If conservative legislators have some method of restricting abortion that they have not used I would like to know what it is. Indeed, feminists and abortion providers are constantly whining about conservative legislators working double-overtime to make abortions illegal or at least very difficult to obtain, and not just in election years.

  8. Reagan in 1982:

    I know we here today, and a majority of the American people agree on one point: We’re not saying we have a terrible problem and Government must find a solution. We’re saying Government is the problem and the people have the solution—a constitutional amendment making balanced budgets the law of this land.

    How brave, how realist and accommodating of Reagan to support a balanced budget amendment! I’m sure that Obama, a president who has governed as a moderate just like Reagan, will follow suit any day now!

  9. I agree with Terry on the abortion issue. Until there is some willingness on both sides to meet the abortion issue in the middle, it is unlikely that there will be a legislative solution that is achievable. In the meantime, we all must wait for an appropriately-crafted case to come into the court system. Case law may erventually be able to force the issue.

    Nevertheless, abortion remains an effective vote collecting mechanism for conservative politicians. Especially in these times, it plays well to their base.

  10. Leslie Hittner, what do you think of the following statement:
    “[A]bortion remains an effective vote collecting mechanism for liberal politicians. Especially in these times, it plays well to their base.”

  11. Terry,
    In some jurisdictions that may well be true. Nationally, that does not appear to be the case. If it were, I would expect to see more anit-abortion liberals.

    On the other hand, if you are implying that the subject of abortion more generally (either being pro or con) is used to garner votes then you make a valid point – both conservatives and liberals use the subject of “abortion” to play to their base voters.

    And, unfortunately, the liberals have had their way legislatively – with late-term abortions for instance – whilst conservatives have been sitting on their hands on this issue.

  12. I don’t understand your comment, Leslie Hittner. Surely you are not suggesting that the democrats do not use abortion as a wedge issue in elections to the US congress and presidency?

  13. Pingback: Chanting Points Memo: “Reagan Was A Moderate!”, Part II | Shot in the Dark

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