#NeverReagan

Ann Coulter obviously never really knew the real Ronald Reagan.

Once a self-described Reagan conservative, Coulter now claims that Donald Trump is the new (and improved) Ronald Reagan.

neverreagan

In her best-failing book,[1] In Trump We Trust,[2] Coulter offers a caricature of the Gipper even as she lambastes conservatives for preserving his legacy.

Chapter 6, “You’re Not Reagan,” is replete with banalities, blunders, and bluster.

Speaking largely to those who never knew Reagan (and the politically disinterested, disaffected, and disillusioned), Coulter offers humor and false analogies in place of facts and reasons. Indeed, this chapter, in particular, employs rationalization instead of rational arguments.

Coulter’s False Claims About Reagan

Among the many ludicrous claims Coulter makes about Reagan, these two are especially laughable.

First, “Reagan was optimistic, but only after he’d been president.

To buttress her claim, Coulter proffered one quote from the Reagan-Carter debate in 1980.

Anyone who knew Reagan saw his eternal optimism. Coulter also asked, “Did Reagan ever blurt out something as insipid as ‘I have an optimistic message’?”

 In his one and only debate with Carter, Reagan actually said, “I am eternally optimistic.” He then addressed racial issues in America and pledged “that we will have total equal opportunity for all people. And I would do everything I could in my power to bring that about.”

Second, “Reagan had a few big ideas but, famously, was not a detail man.

In that same debate, Reagan was extremely familiar with not just the big picture but the details of the various subjects being debated. Reagan was an intellectual populist and visionary who thought before he spoke and his views were thoughtful because he’d given them due consideration. (One need only read his biographies or his journals to discern the depth of his knowledge, understanding, and discernment.)

Reagan could even hold his own with an intellectual giant like William F. Buckley, Jr.

Reagan, famously, knew the details and, more importantly, what those details meant and the underlying principles involved.

Coulter’s False Claims About Reagan Conservatives

Coulter derides Conservatism’s quest for the next Reagan because she does not understand or value the original. She dismisses Reaganism, writing, “(1) Reagan was president in the 1980s, and (2) today’s Republicans don’t seem to remember Reagan.”

 As to her second point, are we to consign to the ash-heap of history George Washington and Abraham Lincoln because many Americans are woefully unfamiliar with those giants?

 As to her first point, Coulter repeatedly reiterated ad infinitum (for Trump supporters, that’s “over, and over, and over again”) that Reagan’s era was 35 years ago and his solutions are old-fashioned, out-of-date, passé, from a bygone age, and no longer applicable to our modern, 21st-century, era. (Sounds remarkably 1960s countercultural, doesn’t it?)

 BT – Before Trump – Coulter claimed, “[Romney is] more conservative than Reagan.”[3] (Now the flavor of this election cycle is Trump.) Coulter also lamented, “These johnny-come-latelies to Reagan worship seem to think that he was Jesus Christ and could do no wrong.”[4]

Coulter added, “I don’t really like groupthink and mob-think. I liked Reagan a lot more when it was unpopular.”[5] (Reagan was always popular.)

 Now, Coulter reviles “Republicans [who] believe they can capture Reagan’s greatness by repeating his answers to the problems of three decades ago.” But Coulter fails to realize that Reagan governed by paying attention to eternal principles.

Human nature hasn’t changed since The Fall. People still want Liberty. The government’s primary legitimate function is security (law and order, national defense). The Constitution remains (nominally) the “law of the land.”

Yet, Coulter told the Miami Herald:

I sent the tweet halfway through a debate where there was no discussion of anything but Ronald Reagan, Israel and abortion.[6] Those things are all fine, but there’s no disagreement about them. All Republicans agree – who doesn’t love Reagan and Israel, and who doesn’t hate abortion? So what’s the point in talking about it? They all go on and on about Ronald Reagan. Yes, he’s great, but Ronald Reagan was 35 years ago. Can we move on?”

Actually, no. Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan were great American leaders, men of character, integrity, vision, and courage. The GOP is (or, at least, used to be) “the party of Lincoln and Reagan.” Trump has effectively jettisoned that legacy down a memory hole in his quest for power.

Nevertheless, Coulter argues, “It’s taken Republicans who aren’t Trump 35 years to become some Frankenstein monster of Reagan.”

 Hailing Trump as the new and improved Reagan, Coulter concluded her Reagan chapter with these words:

 “If history is any guide, in the 2046 election, Republicans will all be campaigning on the issue of who most credibly promises to build a second wall on border, to fortify the Great Wall of Trump.”[7] (Except a President Trump wouldn’t build a Great Wall of Trump.[8])

 Trump is NOT Reagan

Attempting to position Trump as just like (or better than) Reagan, Coulter attempted to favorably compare the two with these claims:

  • “Reagan opposed both the media and his own party to do what was best for the country.”
  • “Reagan refused to accept America’s inevitable decline.”
  • “Reagan was ridiculed for announcing that he would solve seemingly intractable problems, specifically the Cold War.”
  • “Reagan aggressively opposed Republican orthodoxy on a slew of issues: SALT treaties, détente, and the Equal Rights Amendment, to name a few.”
  • “Reagan had a few big ideas but, famously, was not a detail man.” [False – see above]

But Coulter’s observations miss the salient point. Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan. Trump cannot be trusted to keep any of his promises. Trump lacks the requisite character and discipline to do so.

 Indeed, Trump’s only moral compass is his own self-interest.

 As reported by The Federalist, “[Coulter’s] solution – replacing one hero with another – makes even less sense. The Great Communicator had ideas, theories, and solutions; the Great Prevaricator has nothing but his hero project on the Rio Grande.”

After the first Trump-Clinton debate, James C. Capretta observed:

“Trump has sometimes compared himself to Ronald Reagan. But it is hard to imagine Reagan sounding anything like the Republican candidate who debated Hillary Clinton on Monday. Trump never mentioned reining in an activist federal government or cutting back on wasteful spending. He never talked about the power of free markets, or individual liberty, or the importance of the Constitution. On foreign policy, he spoke of American weakness and showed no interest in continuing the U.S.’s post-war role as the leader of the democratic West. When he talked with real conviction, it was about how trade agreements such as NAFTA were broken and he alone could bring the lost jobs back to the U.S., without offering any kind of explanation (even when invited to do so) of how he would accomplish this.”

Capretta added,

“Trump has sometimes hit on traditional conservative themes during the past year, but those themes do not come naturally to him because he spent much of his adult life supporting a very different worldview. What animates him is a determination to disengage America from the world through changes in immigration, trade, and foreign policy. A lot can be said about this agenda, including that it has the support of many Americans. What cannot be said is that it is consistent with what Reagan would propose if he were running for president today.”

 The Ronald Reagan Coulter Never Knew

In the 1990s, Coulter regarded Reagan as the greatest American president of the 20th century. Now, not so much. Indeed, it turns out that Coulter never really knew Reagan.

Just last week, Coulter claimed, “[Reagan] kind of came across as a bumbling old man [in his first debate with Carter].”[9] (There you go again, Ann. Reagan and Carter had only one presidential debate and Reagan won.)

Pardon me, Ann, but the Gipper[10] was brilliant, thoroughly conversant with the issues, utterly conservative, and articulated his principles better than most, including William F. Buckley, Jr. When Reagan spoke to the American people, they could relate to him and they could grasp his message.

Reagan’s legacy is as much who he was as what he did. He accomplished what he did because of who is was and what he became.

Reagan’s Legacy

Twelve years ago, the nation mourned his passing while celebrating Reagan’s life and legacy. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the Capitol Rotunda for his lying in state.[11]

Reagan biographer Craig Shirley[12] has declared that the Republican Party is dead but that Reaganism is alive and well and living in a populist-energized Conservative Movement.

In an exclusive interview at CPAC,[13] I asked about Ronald Reagan’s legacy[14] and its relevance today. Shirley replied, “Reagan’s legacy is intellectual conservatism, a belief in the future, a belief in young Americans, and an optimistic outlook – all the things that he brought to the Republican Party which had been missing since the time of Teddy Roosevelt.”

Asked whether there are any leaders on the stage right now who could fill Reagan’s shoes, Shirley bluntly replied, “No.” He added, “Leaders like Ronald Reagan don’t grow on trees.”

But then he offered hope, saying, “in defense of the current crop of candidates, Ronald Reagan wasn’t Ronald Reagan before Ronald Reagan was Ronald Reagan.”

Shirley went on to explain, “by that I mean that very few saw his greatness before he was actually president and then afterwards. He was actually derided by the Eastern elites and by the Republican establishment and by the liberal media in the Sixties and the Seventies. It took time to understand Reagan’s greatness.”

Consequently, “in defense of the current crop of candidates, we can’t peer into the future, so I would say, if they stick to their principles, if they stick to their guns, they make their argument, they might succeed and make history, and, if they do, then they will also be seen in a different light.”

[In recognition of his Reaganesque qualities, love of America, and devotion to the Constitution, BrotherWatch endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for President of the United States.[15]]

Endnotes:

[1]               See “Coulter’s Big Fail” at http://wp.me/p4jHFp-ia.

[2]               See “Alternative Ann Coulter Book Covers” at http://wp.me/p4jHFp-gr.

[3]               Ann Coulter, Joyce Kaufman Show, WFTL, 5/8/15.

[4]               Ann Coulter, Ricochet, 6/4/15.

[5]               Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham Show, 6/3/15.

[6]               See “Jews: Quality, not Quantity” at http://wp.me/p4jHFp-al.

[7]               See “Trump’s Phony Wall” at http://wp.me/p4jHFp-cn.

[8]               See “Coulter Logic (she wants candidate who won’t pursue her agenda)” at http://wp.me/p4jHFp-dQ.

[9]               Ann Coulter, Good Morning Britain,  ITN, 9/27/16.

[10]             See “Remembering Reagan” at http://t.co/GYAescwhYa.

[11]             See “My Pilgrimage to Reagan” (5 pp.) for a first-hand account of that experience. See also a 1997 “Ronald Reagan Special Edition” (28 pp) with tributes from people who knew him best.

[12]             Mr. Shirley’s latest Reagan biography, Last Act, is available on Amazon and elsewhere.

[13]             See “CPAC: Reagan’s Legacy Endures” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-e1.

[14]             See “Remembering Reagan” at http://t.co/GYAescwhYa.

[15]             See “BrotherWatch Endorses Ted Cruz” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-dw.

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