The pundits and talking heads have settled on a sensational meme: Obama killed Reagan. To the Old Media and the pundit class, it’s got all the requisite characteristics of a great story. New beating old, liberal trumping conservative, it has power, pathos and amazement. But, it is also pure hyperbole and, well, a load of horse puckey.
Before I get too much further along here, it would be silly of me to claim that it could never happen that Obama will supplant Reagan as the miracle worker of the Oval Office. We have but to look at the long-term success of Franklin Roosevelt’s turning of America from a capitalist republic to a democratic socialist system to see that it is entirely possible that Obama’s next four years (or 16 if we’re talking FDR redux) could “re-make” the country once again. Not that what FDR did was a good thing, mind you, but it cannot be denied that it was a political success and was entirely transformative.
But, folks can we focus on something salient to this discussion for just a minute? As I write this, we’ve had a President Obama for a grand total of 45 days. So, with that small fraction of a term in mind, it is simply absurd to say that Obama has killed anything at this early stage. No president can wholly re-make the country in 45 days. It just isn’t possible.
In fact, we can review FDR’s record to prove that fact, as well.
When Roosevelt came into office he did so on a relief, reform, and recovery ticket. The country was at the nadir of the Great Depression and Roosevelt promised to fix it. He first turned his attention to relief and a blizzard of bills was passed by a compliant Congress. Next FDR began to meddle in the market and created all sorts of boards and programs to take over the economy. He also decided to steal all the gold held in private hands by force of law. This was his “New Deal” recovery plan.
By the midterm elections, because of his anti-capitalist policies and hectoring speeches, FDR’s socialist ideas were endearing him to a voter base that had been successfully ginned up against “the rich” causing them to hate corporations. He won larger majorities in Congress and stepped up his taking over of the private economy.
This took four years, not 45 days.
Then came the next four years of his second term. At first, it seemed as if everything was going wonderfully. But the Supreme Court of the United States didn’t see it that way. The SCOTUS began to systematically dismantle many of FDR’s unconstitutional programs and boards. In response, FDR even tried to illegally remake the Supreme Court, but failed miserably in the attempt. He also lost some seats in Congress because he overstepped his place and began to meddle in state politics in an effort to dominate the Party. Even ginned up as they were, FDR’s voters were starting to raise eyebrows at his arrogant meddling in state party politics. Suspicions were also growing that his economic ideas were not working as the Great Depression saw no signs of abating. The result was that FDR’s second term was less productive for his agenda than the first.
So suddenly things weren’t so rosy for FDR.
As he began to run for a precedent breaking third term, this was the time when things could have easily turned against FDR. If the Republican Party had only run a competent candidate, instead of the Democrat turned Republican Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt would likely have gone down in history as a failure.
This was an eight year time span, here. We also know he won the third term, launched the U.S. into WWII and saved his reputation. This was nearly half a dozen more years in the making.
I relate this brief history lesson to show that were it not for a feckless GOP, FDR would have not been deemed such a success. And it took him two full terms to get to that point. Four years of perceived success and four years of muddled results could have ended him. Again, that was eight years and this from one of the presidents most consistently deemed one of the greats.
Yet, now we have an Obama that is claimed to have remade the whole country and become wildly successful in a mere 45 days?
This is not to say that the policies he is attempting to implement can’t or won’t re-make the country. It is also not to say he will be either a success or a failure. Any and all of that is possible. It is also just as possible that what he is attempting in these first few months will unravel like a cheap knit sweater turning him from The One into the done.
But, folks we need to realize that it has only been 45 days. Obama has NOT beaten Reagan. He has NOT been a successful president. He has NOT re-made the country. At least not yet. Maybe not ever.
In fact, it is far more likely that Reagan’s ideas will again be proven superior and that they will trump all these foolish retrograde ideas that Obama is trying to re-establish.
So, stop saying he has “beaten Reagan.” Stop saying he has transformed anything. Stop saying he is successfully building a political power base. That is accepting the hyperbole of those that wish for Obama’s success.
On the other hand, start saying what WE will do to stop him. Start saying how we will reverse his bad policies. Start focusing on response. Continue using Reagan’s proven record as the basis of our response and do not cave in to all this talk of a “new, new deal.” Don’t succumb to fears that if we don’t hop on board the Obama bandwagon that we will be left behind. Don’t imagine that we have to obviate our principles by offering watered down socialist policies to some how keep up with Obama’s full blown socialist prescriptions.
Let’s can the idiotic talk of Obama killing Reagan. It hasn’t happened and may never. But even if it will eventually, it can’t have in a mere 45 days.
(Photo credit: Politico.com)