Ed Driscoll

Backward Ran the Photoshops Until Reeled the Voters

In 2008, Barack Obama went out of his way, along with a complicit media, to present himself as the successor to Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president.

During the first year of his presidency, he seemed to be doing a heck of a Nixon impersonation.

The latest edition of Time magazine portrays him as the successor to the greatest Republican president of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan.

What’s next, Obama’s going to present himself as the second coming of…?

Oh, right.

Responding to Time’s new cover, “What a difference a shellacking makes,” Mark Finkelstein of Newsbusters writes:

Just after Barack Obama won the White House in 2008, Time photoshopped him into an iconic FDR photo at the wheel of a convertible, jaunty cigarette-holder in mouth.

Obama was riding high as the champion of the left, the promise and personification of a born-again big-government New Deal. That was then, this is the 9+% unemployment, recent-shellacking now. So with which president does Time now find it in the president’s interest to be associated? Why, Ronald Reagan, of course.

The new Time cover, unveiled by Time editor Rick Stengel on Morning Joe today, features a Photoshop of a smiling Obama and Reagan, the Gipper’s arm draped around PBO. The legend: “Why Obama Loves Reagan,” [a symbolic heart in place of “loves].

Or as blogger Full Metal Patriot quips, “To paraphrase Time’s headline, what Obama sees in Reagan is an enemy of socialism. What Reagan sees in Obama is an enemy of liberty.”

In Photoshopping a smiling Gipper alongside Obama, Time seems to be doing a deliberate callback to their earlier Photoshop of Reagan shedding a tear over the current crop of Republicans in 2007. And as I wrote back then, the basic strategy of once a great news publication forced to do PR stunts such as this to sell magazines is the same:

It’s ridiculous of course — between the Gipper’s 11th Commandment, and the fact that unlike his father, Bush #43 has taken so many of his cues from President Reagan, I doubt Reagan would be too upset with him. But then of course, the goal of Time’s cover isn’t to criticize the president from the right (since, oh, about 1968, that would hardly be Time’s style), as much as to get conservatives to raise a stink about the magazine, even if they wouldn’t be caught dead buying it.

Incidentally, I’m pretty sure I saw nearly every Time cover in the 1980s, but I don’t remember them running a similar story on President Nixon’s disappointment in the Gipper, even though from fiscal to foreign policy, Reagan’s conservative stances were remarkably different from Nixon’s surprisingly liberal governance.

So I doubt very much that Reagan is looking down and shedding a tear.

Henry Luce might be, though.

More after the page jump.

Of course, you wouldn’t know it based on that cover or the new one, but Time wasn’t exactly fond of the Gipper when he was actually in office, as Noemie Emery wrote in 2007:

A look at Time’s archive for 1987 shows a drumbeat of attack, if not of derision, for the man and his plans and ideas. True, the magazine did have a column by the late Hugh Sidey, a centrist’s centrist if ever there was one and a man with an institutional fondness for presidents. He cut the old man a break every few issues. But on the whole, in a long series of fairly long stories, some of them featured on the cover, the magazine made room for a series of writers–Garry Wills, Lance Morrow, and George J. Church among them–to whipsaw the Gipper back, forth, and sideways as a poseur, a fraud, an out-of-touch airhead, a lame duck, a loser, a man dwelling in dreamland, a man whirled about by the currents around him, and, of course, wholly washed up. It had been a bad year for Reagan and Republicans, bracketed by the Iran-contra scandal and the stock market crash. Reagan’s foreign policy ventures in Latin America and vis-à-vis the Soviet Union seemed stalled. His nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court had failed, and in November 1986 he had lost the Senate. As far as Time was concerned, the whole jig was up.

Let’s flash-forward back to 2011. Early Wednesday morning, after viewing Obama’s State of the Union speech, Jay Nordlinger wrote:

From here on out — from now until Election Day — it’ll be super-patriotism all the way. Obama will make Curtis LeMay look like a pinko. We wondered whether Obama was as flexible as Clinton. I think Obama may prove silly putty itself.

Obama’s surprisingly stiff attempt at triangulating his image, along with the MSM’s help, is also a reminder of what Ann Coulter wrote in late 2003 when John Kerry tried to portray himself as a sort of postmodern jingoistic hawk to compete with President Bush. “Both parties run for office as conservatives. Once they have fooled the voters and are safely in office, Republicans sometimes double-cross the voters. Democrats always do.”

But isn’t there a huge opportunity being created for Obama’s GOP opponent next year? If voters want a Republican in the White House in 2012 to clean up the economic mess that Obama’s made, shouldn’t they vote for the real thing instead of Obama’s Multiplicity-style photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a Republican?

Oh and speaking of Photoshops, as I wrote last month, let’s cut to the chase and find a really small government Republican for Obama to emulate:

Now that would be…Change.

Related: Just to make the relationship ever cozier between the opinion magazine and the president, “Biden Staffer, Former Time Reporter Jay Carney to Be Obama Press Secretary.” Oh, and he’s married to ABC’s Claire Shipman.

Funny, it was only a few years ago when a former journalist as a press secretary was seen by some on the left as a very bad thing indeed.

Update (1/28/11): Don’t miss Richard Fernandez at the Belmont Club on “The Decree of Ex-Future Fate.”