Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why did Ronald Reagan hate America?

John Holbo at Crooked Timber noticed this quote from Jonah Goldberg

Barack Obama talks about making America better by remaking it, by reinventing it. The aesthetics of his campaign are about a revolution. Well, it seems to me that if you believe this country needs a revolution, if you believe that it needs to be remade, then your love for it isn’t that profound.
This is oh so typical of one of this nation's leading cartoon conservatives. The instant I read the quote I knew it was phony bullshit that Goldberg's brain had manufactured in order to help him arrive at the axiomatic principle of conservative movement theology: Republicans (conservatives) good, Democrats (liberal communist fascists) bad.

You want to know why I knew it was bullshit? Because I remember the content of Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Go ahead, read it. After paragraphs of bashing the Carter administration for ruining America and what not, Reagan has this to say:

Everywhere we have met thousands of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans from all economic conditions and walks of life bound together in that community of shared values of family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom. They are concerned, yes, but they are not frightened. They are disturbed, but not dismayed. They are the kind of men and women Tom Paine had in mind when he wrote—during the darkest days of the American Revolution—"We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
Yes, Thomas Paine did say that. In Common Sense. You know, the pamphlet that inspired the colonists to declare their independence from the British Crown.* I don't know about you, but that sure seems like Reagan's campaign aesthetics were explicitly revolutionary.

So I'm sure that you can find tons of articles at National Review about how much Reagan hated America, just like Obama does. Good luck with that. What you will find is stuff like this article from Goldberg

To summarize why I admired the Gipper: He was put on earth to do two things: kick butt and chew gum, and he ran out of gum around 1962. The rest is commentary.
So why doesn't Goldberg think Reagan hated America? Because Reagan was a conservative movement "ideologue" (which Goldberg considers to be not a pejorative label but a point of praise). Again, it's axiomatic: Reagan = conservative therefore Reagan loves America. Obama = Liberal Fascist therefore Obama hates America.

Case in point.

I can understand why Bradford Delong is so frustrated at having to be "balanced" by fools like these. People so transparently unserious should not be treated by our media as if they are, in fact, people with serious things to say.

*Common Sense was not written "during the darkest days of the American Revolution" - more like the start. These words, however, were (as indicated by Washington ordering them read to his troops before Trenton):

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Government is the problem, as Ronald Reagan said, he did so when he was the head of the USA Government.
Did you not believe him , when he said he was from the
Government, but would not balance one federal budget.
Reagan was acting in his Capacity as head of the
U S Government, and he did you no good.
All ills lay with the man who hated the U S Government.
That hate has born bitter fruit for the nation, America.