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Distorting the Reagan record

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 2, 2008 03:22 PM

Mark Levin Rights–and yes, I mean that with a capital “R”–some wrongs committed by McCain supporters invoking Ronald Reagan. A snippet:

… I appreciate all the references to Reagan’s efforts to advance his agenda, which did involve making compromises with a Democrat House and, throughout most of his presidency, a Democrat Congress. And if John McCain showed this kind of temperament and vision in his political career, I don’t think most who object to his candidacy during the primaries would be objecting to it today. I think we would be enthusiastically supporting him.

Painting Reagan as a tax-and-spend Republican, who basically went along with Washington and appointed a bunch of moderates to the Supreme Court, in an apparent attempt to build up McCain’s conservative and leadership credentials and mollify his critics, has the opposite effect mostly because it is inaccurate. It reminds me of Bill Clinton’s supporters using Thomas Jefferson’s alleged adultery to explain the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Reagan challenged his party from the Right. He sought the Republican nomination in 1968 against Richard Nixon and lost. He sought the nomination against Gerald Ford in 1976 and lost. He fought the Republican establishment in 1980 as well, including Bob Dole, Howard Baker, and George H. W. Bush, and won. McCain has challenged his party from the Left. I don’t know how many more times I and others have to lay out his record to prove the point. To put a fine point on it, when he had to, Reagan sought compromise from a different set of beliefs and principles than McCain. It does a great disservice to historical accuracy and the current debate to continue to urge otherwise.

Let me be more specific, rather than spar in generalities. Reagan would never have used the phrase “manage for profit” as a zinger to put down a Republican opponent. Reagan believed in managing for profit because he believed in free enterprise. That doesn’t mean he didn’t agree to certain tax increases (after fighting for and winning the most massive tax cuts in modern American history), which were incidentally to be accompanied by even greater spending cuts. McCain believes the oil companies are evil, and said it during one of the debates. Among his first acts as president, Reagan decontrolled the prices of natural gas and crude oil with the stroke of his pen because, as he understood, profit funds research and exploration. Reagan had a respect for and comprehension of private property rights and markets that McCain does not. There never would have been a Reagan-Lieberman bill, in which the federal government’s power over the private sector would have trumped the New Deal.

Reagan opposed limits on political speech. The Reagan administration ended the Fairness Doctrine and the media ownership rules, which helped create the alternative media that McCain despises. Reagan’s reverence for the Constitution would never have allowed him to support, let alone add his name to, something like McCain-Feingold…

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Related:

Reagan vs. McCain on profits, business, and the free market
The enviro-nitwit-ization of the GOP

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