A Couple Of Birthdays

It’s been a little crazy lately, and in the rush I neglected two birthdays.

The first, of course, is today.


Note:  This is an “encore” of a post I wrote in 2013

Today would be the 108th birthday of the greatest president of my lifetime.

People say “there’s no Ronald Reagan in American politics today”.  And they’re right – but as his son Michael told me in an interview a few years ago, it’s not that there couldn’t be.

Because Reagan had three great talents:   he was a great, natural communicator (who, unlike a lot of “natural communicators”, honed his craft with relentless discipline);  he developed a vision and he stuck to it with determination and focus; and most importantly for today’s  conservatives, he knew how to build coalitions, rather than exclude people from them.

We have plenty of people who can communicate well, although the conservative movement has had its share of duds in that department too.  And we have not a few who can visioneer with the best of them  – in fact, with the rise of the Tea Party, our movement’s best years may be to come, provided they keep the faith.

But as to building coalitions?

Today, we’re better at building silos.

Reagan did something that conservatives are terrible at today; he got social conservatives (at the peak of their notoriety and political cachet), blue-collar Democrats who the economy had turned into instant fiscalcons, Jack Kemp-style economic hawks and paleocons together…

…by focusing remorselessly on what they agreed on;  fixing the economy, and ending Communism.

And once in office, that’s what he focused on.  Oh, he paid lip service to issues that were to him tangents – and lip service from the world’s greatest bully pulpit ain’t chicken feed. But he didn’t fritter his political capital away with excessive natterings about issues that were tangential to his vision, and the vision his coalition all agreed on in electing him.  He spoke eloquently on issues – many of them – and that speaking had its effect.

Some call that an abdication; it was in fact a matter of leaving that work to the members of his coalition (example:  he exerted very little executive effort on abortion and gun control – but the efforts to roll both back at the state and local level started to coalesce during his time in office anyway – in part because of his leadership from the bully pulpit.  But for all that, always, the focus was on “dancing with the one what brung him” to DC at the head of an impossibly-diverse coalition; his rock-solid, bone-simple two point agenda, fixing the economy and toppling the Commies.

As I moderated the “Where Do We Go From Here” event last week at the Blue Fox, and listened to some of the friction and cat-calling across the party’s various factions, I thought there was a lot of focus on what divided us.  And so my final question to the panel was “what do we all – all of us, from socialcons like Andy Parrish to libertarians like Marianne Stebbins, actually agree on?”  Because that is the only real way forward for any of the factions – since if any faction takes Parrish’s (tongue in cheek?) advice and forms a separate party, it’s the road to mutual palookaville, with multiple parties that are less than the sum of the parts they once were.

So for my annual Gipper Day celebration, it’ll be the usual; jelly beans at my desk, taking the kids out to dinner to talk about what Reagan’s legacy has meant in their lives (other than the uninformed, out-of-context crap the DFLers in their lives’ll say)…

…and asking my fellow conservatives “what do we agree on?”

The second? Well, that’ was yesterday.

Shot In The Dark

Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of my starting this blog.

Hardly seems possible, sometimes.

9 thoughts on “A Couple Of Birthdays

  1. Although his administration represented an extraordinarily happy and successful time in my life, the Gipper’s legacy hasn’t aged well for me.

    I blame his amnesty for the loss of California to the reprobates, and he was very gullible not to get more guarantees from them. The fight Trump (and all Real Americans) are engaged in today are a direct result of Reagan’s faux pas.

    Congrats on the anniversary! Been that long? Wow.

  2. I was 2 when Reagan left office, I dont have anywhere near the glowing reverence for him that you do Mitch. And personally I think that the best President in my lifetime is Trump because I had absolutely no expectations for him going in. I just hoped he wouldnt destroy this country as fast as Hillary wanted to. In my opinion in a generation (and assuming he serves a full two terms) Trumps accomplishments will dwarf everyone elses, including Reagan. People forget (and I have researched it) and I do believe that if we werent just barely removed from Watergate Iran-Contra would have gotten Reagan impeached and probably removed from office. That whole mess was worse than Watergate, Whitewater, Monica Lewinski, because people DIED and our government was at best indifferent and at worst complicit in the murders.

  3. also but seriously congrats on the anniversary, to think I was a freshman in high school when you started this blog and I dont think I became a regular commentor until Anti-Strib (Remember those guys? That was a fun time) quit in like 2006-7.

  4. Seventeen years is a heck of a run, Mitch. Thank you for all the wisdom and for being so amazingly prolific over the years. There aren’t many people left who are still in the game, but you continue to set the pace.

  5. Have you practiced your nuclear drill today? Cowered under your desk? Done some finishing work on your Anderson shelter? No? That’s because the Soviet Union is no longer a daily nuclear threat. It collapsed because an American president saw that the way to beat them was not MADD, but money. He ratcheted up military spending, announced Star Wars, and let them try to keep up. They couldn’t. They’re on the ash heap of history. Russia is a pale shadow. The threat of nuclear war is still there, but it’s remote, not foremost.

    Did you button up your cardigan this morning? Check the misery index of inflation and unemployment? Turn down that thermostat because of the energy shortage? No? That’s because an American president reversed idiotic domestic policies that threatened to turn the US into a second world nation. Tax rates went down, tax revenues went up, the economy soured.

    Yes, of course, there were objectionable compromises, a sad reality when you’re only President and not President-for-Life, so you can’t simply jail dissidents and Leftists. The people saying Trump is greater than Reagan because he did this or that must reconsider the context within which the actions were taken. We’re like the college students who object to George Washington because he kept slaves, forgetting that he led an entire nation out from under a king.

    I’ve got nothing against President Trump and I hope he does eventually surpass President Reagan’s accomplishments. But let’s keep things in perspective.

  6. Dang it, the economy Soared, not Soured. That came later, when leftists regained control. Trump can rightfully claim credit for fixing that too, using the same boat-lifting, trickle-down economics that worked for earlier presidents such as Kennedy and . . . wait for it . . . Reagan.

  7. 17 years…. we must be getting close to a comeback for “It was 20 years ago today…”

  8. You’re right Joe. And I don’t deny Reagan did some wonderful things. But for all the good he did for America and the world, the loss of our most populous state to leftist reprobates can be directly traced back to his ill considered amnesty.

    I understand why he did it. Reagan was a legitimate humanitarian. He did what he thought was best for the Mexicans, but America is paying a big price for his charity.

    Not only does California have an outsized impact on our national politics, it is a net exporter of leftists and leftist policies. They wash up on our shores in SC and throughout Real America, and immediately set upon cloning Cali’s destruction.

    We don’t have to do duck and cover drills in school anymore, but our country is still threatened with an annihilation every bit as real.

  9. I have not been here since the very beginning, but at least 15 years. Listening to Hugh Hewitt on the radio and his reference to the Northern Alliance guys and the good work they were doing got me here. Thanks for all that you do.

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