Idealism and politics do not mix well. The most principled politicians are obliged by the nature of governing real human beings in an imperfect world to practice the craft of statesmanship and the virtue of prudence. This non-utopian reality does not sell well in any election cycle, certainly not in one following a great conservative uprising. The grass-roots repudiation of neo-socialism was to have birthed a true “son or daughter of Buckley.” Though the field does offer several competent statesmen capable of governing the nation, generalized disappointment provokes poignant longing for the great Ronald Reagan.
The memory of the now-divinized Reagan, posthumously purged of the scars of pragmatic political give and take, conjures such nostalgia for “Morning in America” that even the Golfing Marxist and his courtesans have sought legitimacy by laying rhetorical wreaths on the Gipper’s tomb. Understandable. Pardonable.
It would, however, be not only impolitic, but certifiable madness for any candidate to claim to be the reincarnation or vicar of Ronald Reagan. The unworthy and those only slightly touched dare only the alchemy of drawing attention to some likeness between their own ideology and record and that of the great Midas.
Only the ersatz-Republican Rochester’s Wife has climbed on the electoral battlements and actually claimed for himself the title of “He Who Stood with Reagan.” In early September of 2011 Congressman Ron Paul sought to discredit Governor Rick Perry with an ad called Trust vs. Rick Perry:
Pictures of Reagan scroll. The ubiquitous Political Ad Man Voice says, “Reagan was also called extreme and unelectable.” Pictures of a young Paul with Reagan fill the screen. We are told Paul was one of only four Republican congressmen to endorse Reagan. The lesson concludes:
Rick Perry helped Al Gore’s campaign to undo the Reagan Revolution. Now America must choose who to elect; Al Gore’s Texas Cheerleader or the one who stood with Reagan.
Is this true? Is Ron Paul really “The One Who Stood with Reagan”?
Ron Paul told the late and very great William F. Buckley Jr. on Firing Line in 1987:
(Libertarians did poorly in the 1984 elections because) it was the height of the Reagan euphoria. We were at the height of the spending and the deficits and everybody believed that prosperity was here forever. I didn’t run in 1984 because I thought Reagan would be very popular, but I think that now it’s over and he’s much more exposed and the “conservatism” of the Reagan administration is much more exposed now than in 1984.
It is unconscionable and indicative of malicious duplicity for a man who condemned Reagan’s presidential record to now use this beloved president’s image to win votes, claiming that he, Ron Paul, has the solutions Reagan and his Republican followers eschewed.
In 2008, now-Senator Rand Paul stumped for his father in New Hampshire and told voters what his father really thought about Ronald Reagan:
We fast forward to 1980, to the Reagan Revolution, Reagan wins in a landslide. Did we get some good things? Yeah, we did, we got lower marginal tax rates. What happens when you get lower marginal tax rates, the revenues actually went up, so the supply-siders were right. What happened to the deficit? The deficit went through the roof under Reagan.
So how long did it take Ron Paul to figure out the guy he liked, endorsed, campaigned for, who campaigned for him? The very first budget. Ron Paul voted “no” against the very first Reagan budget. Everyone lauded the Reagan budget. It was $100,000,000 in debt, that’s three times worse than Carter’s worst budget…how much guts does it take to vote “no” against a popular Republican president? He was the only one, I think…only a handful. He continued that throughout the 80s. He was disappointed that the Revolution never really came to its fruition.
In the attack ad, Paul claims that Rick Perry should not be president because the Perry-backed Gore was trying to derail this same revolution.
In 1994 we have another so-called revolution, the Republican Revolution where they take over the House and the Senate and we think good things were coming again, all the things that Reagan had promised, but never did…they all ran on the same platform and what happened? The Republicans got in power and got sick with power and within a few months we had transportation bills that were much worse than any the Democrats had ever given us. The Democrats had put 400 earmarks on the Transportation Bill, the Republicans put down four thousand.
Ron Paul really thinks Reagan was a sell-out. Paul campaign speeches insisted that Reagan was not a good president, but an opportunist who grew government and advanced the American empire. Our democracy defends Ron Paul’s right to assert these opinions, and people who agree with Paul, who are swayed by his substantiation of such claims, are welcome to vote for him.
What should be of serious, rational, and conscientious concern for voters is Ron Paul’s fundamental lack of integrity, clearly seen in his hypocritical use of Ronald Reagan to win the votes of unsuspecting conservatives who do love and honor Reagan’s memory and legacy.
When Ron Paul previewed and approved the attack ad against Rick Perry, he knew he was selling a lie. Voters should know that Ron Paul, who has a sneering and sour disdain for their Reagan “fake conservatism,” does not possess the intellectual honesty to try to win the election based on his actual belief that Reagan destroyed the conservative revolution. Instead, he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to create an electorally lucrative myth that he is the “Man Who Stood With Reagan.”
His hypocrisy reveals him to be a Brutus who has, since his initial repudiation of Reagan, never rhetorically stood with this most revered statesman except to stab him in the back.