Like Reagan, Obama hopes to usher in a long-term electoral realignment – in Obama’s case toward the moderate left, thereby reversing the 40th president’s political legacy. The Reagan metaphor helps explain the tone of Obama’s inaugural address, built not on a contrived call to an impossible bipartisanship but on a philosophical argument for a progressive vision of the country rooted in our history. Reagan used his first inaugural to make an unabashed case for conservatism.
Does E. J. Dionne not know that words have meaning?
Reagan was never remotely a conservative, let alone any kind of thinker. His silly “shining city on a hill” should provide a clue. The one-time union leader and aging philanderer was clearly a reactionary. He had more in common with LBJ than most any other president though Reagan’s achievements were enormously destructive while LBJ, despite his enormous flaws, managed the monumental civil rights achievement that reverberates so today.
Both were mainly good at jawboning, something totally beyond Obama’s ken.
One great story involving Al D’Amato, “Senator Pothole,” is illustrative. I think it was Michael Kinsley, every winger’s liberal so naturally he wasn’t, who told the story.
Al D’Amato was at a private dinner in a restaurant when a waiter told D’Amato he had a call.
When D’Amato got to the phone, Reagan started into his pitch for a vote on approving another missile funding that was hanging in the balance, D’Amato exploded, “Will you quit calling me, you fucking son of a bitch?” D’Amato had been receiving nuisance calls from some stalker.
When Reagan somehow convinced the fine senator from New York that Al was talking to the President, D’Amato quickly agreed to vote for the missile funding, forgetting entirely about his lengthy shopping list in his embarrassment.
How I wish there were a recording of that conversation as there is with at least some calls by LBJ to some Southern segregationists seeking approval of Johnson’s nomination of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court.