It’s funny that an article about how everything the Republican party touches turns to shit could somehow be a hidden gift to conservatives everywhere, but Time magazine has somehow accomplished it with their cover story “How The Right Went Wrong”. The first sign that the article would be a thinly-disguised love letter to a conservative Never Never Land is the cover itself which sports a Photoshopped Reagan portrait that’s just begging to be turned into a velvet painting.
Good question, Time. What would Ronnie do? My guess is he’d probably thank you for making him a martyr with unvarnished praise like this :
Reagan restored a sense of America’s mission as the “city on a hill” that would be a light to the world and helped bring about the defeat of what he very undiplomatically christened “the evil empire.”
. . .
Conservatives are in many ways victims of their successes, and there have indeed been big ones. At 35%, the top tax rate is about half what it was when Reagan took office; the Soviet Union broke up; inflation is barely a nuisance; crime is down; and welfare is reformed.
You can almost hear John Ashcroft singing in the distance as Time breathlessly exhorts “the Reagan legacy”. Jeez, guys, why don’t you just skip the middleman and just write the entire 2008 GOP campaign script for them? The one time when the article actually tells the truth about the Reagan years, it’s done as an aside.
The principles that propelled the movement have either run their course, or run aground, or been abandoned by Reagan’s legatees. Government is not only bigger and more expensive than it was when George W. Bush took office, but its reach is also longer, thanks to the broad new powers it has claimed as necessary to protect the homeland. It’s true that Reagan didn’t live up to everything he promised: he campaigned on smaller government, fiscal discipline and religious values, while his presidency brought us a larger government and a soaring deficit. But Bush’s apostasies are more extravagant by just about any measure you pick.
The conservative movement of Ronald Reagan was never about fiscal discipline or shrinking the size of the government, but to make sure all that money went to the “right” people. You’d think the fact that the Reagan presidency didn’t actually accomplish the things his acolytes insist he did would be worthy of more than a footnote. The more damning part about the article is the insistence that the actions of Bush and the rest of the GOP leadership over the last six years have somehow been at odds with what the Gipper would have done (WWRD?).
George Bush isn’t some conservative poseur, he’s the proverbial student that’s become the master. On just about every level, George Bush has improved upon Reagan. Bush has presided over political patronage that reaches every level of the government (and even into the realm of war profiteering). The Administration has had deficits that not only dwarf the gargantuan debt of their spiritual leader, but serve as a tribute to their spendthrift leader (“Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter….this is our due.”) And as the ultimate act of one-upsmanship, not only has the President pissed away every penny that comes into the treasury and buried the country under a mountain of red ink, but Bush was able to do so while continuing to cut taxes for the super rich. Beat that, Bonzo!