Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gipper Debate Watch

I figure that if I'm staying up late to watch the GOP debate at the Reagan Library, I may as well leave a written record. This is the third debate the library has held, and the first of this season. In May 2007, ten contenders stood next to Airforce One and jostled for attention at the first primary debate. Two of them, Romney and Paul are back tonight for the fifth Republican debate this year. Eight are attending, but there would be more if the arbitrary rules allowed Govs. Roemer and Johnson to show their faces. Reagan is bound to be brought up alot, so a drinking game would be simply self destructive. I'm looking instead specifically for props, unfamiliar stories/facts, and bold criticism. Anyway, it's starting.

1:02 - don't recognise where they are, but it has been refurbished since I was there. If it was the pavilion, you'd see the plane.

1:04 - big yawn from blonde audience lady in anticipation of Romney on jobs.

1:07 did Romney just say it's fun to govern? Or was it private industry that's fun?

1:08 Romney brings up Gore internet canard to uproarious laughter

1:11 Cain is a 9 percenter. Probably the only economic plan I will remember at the end of this.

1:12 Huntsman gets in first Reagan reference - his China trip - and points at the plane. They are in the pavilion. And he can speak chinese.

1:14 Bachmann has a prominent flag lapel pin. I'll keep an eye out for the others.

1:16 - Ron Paul factoid comes up - he's delivered 4000+ babies. Can he deliver on the economy?!!Over regulation has ruined the US auto industry?

1:17 oh yeah, forgot about Newt. Trashes Perry's book. I CAMPAIGNED FOR REAGAN WITH JIM LAFFER. Obama should have come to the Reagan Library to learn how to create jobs, and asked Herman Cain.

1:20 Now Romneycare. I'm getting confused with the flitting about. Romeny says nothing new - what's good for Mass is not good for America. Perry: What's good for Mass is not good for Texas - nor is the Fed Gov.

1:24 Huntsman has somehting on his lapel, not sure what it is. Perry has nothing - not a patriot.

1:26 Bachmann says we need a strong leader to repeal Obamacare, can't just do it with an Executive Order. Her argument - she introduced the bill to repeal it in Congress. Good to know she has some substance.

1:27 Gingrich is feisty! Attacking the news media's attempts to divide Republicans. Big cheers. Cain attacks Romneycare. I assume that media attacks Gingrich is referring to are when they record and broadcast him saying things he now doesn't agree with.

1:30 Santorum spent his 12 years in the senate workin' on the poor. Is he running as a post-partisan conciliator? The party is in trouble when Santorum is the reasonable moderate.

1:32 Perry forgets Santorum's name? Then onto a powerful non-sequitur. Quotes JFK on welfare.

1:35 Huntsman makes a sly inplication that Bachmann et al want to "dictate" gas prices.

1:38 Ron Paul is gunning for Perry. I guess that as a consituent, he's the one on the platform most familiar with him. Now Perry is attacking Paul as a Reagan deserter! Paul comes back - I supported Ronnie in '76. But in the eighties, "the message was great, but the consequence was not all that great. Huge deficits". Would like to see this subject play out, but it's gone to adverts. I have a feeling that Perry is not going to get too far attacking Paul for criticisng Reagan from the right in the late eighties - when he himself was a Democrat.

1:44 Little promo for the Reagan Library and the Gipper himself - backing music from the Verve for some reason? Nancy with the laughing face. I'm guessing Nancy is there, but haven't spotted her. And there she is! Looking a little grumpy.

1:50 Paul really doesn't like Perry - and attacks him for the imperial manner of his leadership. It would be nice to have more discussion of the methods of executive power. Bachmann piles on. Perry hates cancer.

1:56 Perry's candidacy - and his book - seem to be leading the debate. On forced inoculation, on Homeland Security, everyone's jumping to the right of him. Only Romney's being nice - "we all love America".

2:02 - Cain has a similar button to Huntsman. What is it? Everyone else's lapels are empty.

2:05 Brian Williams keeps reminding Perry that Texas is shit. 

2:08 Surprise hispanic questioner - immigration reform was a subject dear to Reagan's heart? Perry calls Obama a liar on the safety of the border - is that allowed? Gingrich quotes directly from the Reagan diary on the amnesty bill. Big applause for English as a national language.

2:13 Bachmann gets her first question in ages. Narco-terrorists. Sovereignty. Bay of Pigs Museum. Not sure Floridian cubans are entirely representative of Hispanic-Americans.

2:16 Huntsman: Reagan saw immigration as a human issue.  If Reagan were here...hopeful optimistic...American people. Paul : (Michele Bachmann's) fence might not just keep people out, but it could keep people in! Those people who are getting out with their capital in times of economic turmoil (to Mexico?). I guess that moment would have been the best time yet for Paul to bring up drug policy, but he may be tired of being singled out on the issue. Oh, I wish Gary Johnson was there.

2:22 Williams wants the frequency and velocity of the debate to increase. Great.

2:24 Bachmann says Reagan would also reject a debt deal with any tax increase, because his deal failed. It's a bold claim, Reagan always advocated - or accepted as a fact of life - compromise.

2:28 First mention of GW in a question to Perry on his views on military adventurism. He clumsily changes the subject to Obama and Keynesianism. And Osama? Trying to distinguish between philosophical and political views. Harris sticks to GW as a subject, now to Bachmann, she turns it to Obama and Iran and Israel.

2:33 Santorum: RR was committed to America being a force for good around the world. We didn't have dated exit strategies back then. Please let Ron Paul bring up Lebanon. Reagan tradition vs isolationism is how he defines the foreign policy debate - not Bush doctrine.

2:35 Huntsman back off from naming names on anti-science loony Republicans. Perry is very vague and stumbly on climate science. 

2:39 Bachmann's flag has tilted and is now vertical - not yet upside down, though.

2:45 Haven't been listening closely enough on Perry's capital punishment answer, but I assume he's dodged any implication of his wrongdoing.

And with a libertarian flurry from Ron Paul, the debate is over. Romney and Huntsman came across strongest to me, if that counts for anything. Gingrich seemed to have the most detailed grasp on Reagan; Santorum and Bachmann just blithely imposed their own positions on him; Huntsman made a lukewarm effort to evoke Reagan's character. My award goes to Ron Paul, though, for the bodl criticism I was after, even if it was inarticulate and cut short. I assume that like last time, the candidates will be back next year after being whittled down some. Maybe I will post again before then, but no promises. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Obama reads about Reagan

Just before Christmas, the White House announced the president's reading list, which included The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon - still pretty much the essential book on Reagan's presidency, though I'd probably reccomend Richard Reeves. The choice is presumably a nod to the centennial, to the spirit of bipartisan understanding, and an invitation to compare the two presidencies. Conservatives have read it as an attempt to emulate Reagan. "Mr. Obama," says son Michael, "apparently thinks that if he can learn how to play the role of a Reaganesque president, he can become as successful as my father, Ronald Reagan." Tevi Troy suggests that:
[H]e is looking to a great president for clues as to how he, too, can become a great president. Reagan’s communication skills were of course superb, but his policies had something to do with it as well, and Obama would have to take on some of Reagan’s ideology to learn the full lesson of Reagan.
If Obama wants to learn anything from Reagan, I expect, it is about how to behave around a hostile Congress (and possibly with a fractious Middle East). Both Troy and M. Reagan's comments seem part of a resurgent defence of Reagan's conservative identity, more of which later.

Incidentally, Reagan only released one reading list during his presidency, on the request of the Baltimore Sun. It included a book on Thomas Jefferson, and one which imagined a near-future outbreak of World War - that would get the bloggers tapping nowadays!

Also incidentally, last year Obama announced that he was reading Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. After Reagan read the book, Morris was picked to be his official biographer - no such result for Morris from the Obama White House so far, though it would certainly raise an interesting stink. Morris's thoughts on the announcement here.

The Ronald Reagan Museum of the Victims of Communism

I won't catch up on everything I've missed the past couple of months, but I thought this proposal was worth a mention. David Frum, as the voice of a new moderate conservatism (or an old conservatism, divorced from Tea Party radicalism), ecapsulated his postion in his approach to the Reagan Centennial:
To date, the main attempts to honor Reagan in the nation's capital have gone askew. A government office building second in size only to the Pentagon? An airport from which Washingtonians cannot fly to California? These do not seem very appropriate monuments to a president who fought bureaucracy and yearned for home. The other ideas that sometimes circulate in Congress seem equally misplaced: Placing Reagan on the currency or building a giant statue somewhere in Washington. More than most presidents, Reagan would have wanted to be remembered for his ideas, not his image. The right commemoration would honor those.Let me suggest something: A museum in Washington dedicated to the victims of communism.
This idea is just that, unlikely to go beyond an op-ed piece, and I only really raise it because I quite like it. It's also, though, a neat suggestion of how Reagan's memory might be wrested away from bland and blinkered partisan triumphalism in the commemoration this year. The proposal affirms Reagan's conservatism and anti-communism, but aligns him with the national and international history of the Cold War. He would be associated with the bi- and non-partisan American identity of the twentieth century, and with the experiences of a diverse, global multitude. A reflective, educational museum would also avoid the ambiguity and potential drawn-out controversy of a symbolic monument to Reagan on the Mall. Of course, some on the left would raise the question of the victims of anti-communism in Central and South America, South-East Asia and Africa, but such questions might be more constructive than bitter. The idea would also emphasise the legacy of which Reagan was perhaps most proud - his personal achievements in aiding the plights of individual political prisoners in the Soviet Union, and gaining the approbation of anti-communist dissenters worldwide.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Reagan on the Internet

It seems that during Gipperwatch's latest hiatus, the internet has responded to the vacuum with a few new Reagan-themed websites.

1) The Reagan Record

Also on Blogger, this site is dedicated to monitoring the events of the centennial, while also delving a bit back into Reagan's past. The Tenuto Family of Illinois promises to review copies of the Reagan Record, his old fan club newsletter, as well as every one of his 53 movies (conveniently amounting to one a week for a year, thereabouts). I'm not sure if this is possible (how many are available) but good luck to them! Gipperwatch will be reading, and no doubt poaching their work.

2) The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project.. back online! And flashier than ever. Grover Norquist's outfit, committed to naming as many things as possible after Ronald Reagan, used to blog about their efforts but lost steam a couple of years ago - I'm not the only one. In advance of the 100th birthday, the RRLP has launched a new website, complete with an interactive map displaying their progress so far. The site also offers a strategy guide for citizens and elected officials interested in furthering the mission: "Schools are an excellent opportunity to name a project after Reagan, they are being built every day."

3) Reagan to the Rescue

A gallery of Reagan's awseomness.

4) Reagan the Movie

Not Michael Rogin's psycho-biography of Reagan's film career, but a site promoting the Reagan film, discussed here before. No new news though, and seems a bit buggy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reagan's Face = "Sort of" Electioneering

An incident in an Illinois polling station today gave a small indication of Reagan's perseverance as a partisan icon in American politics when Mary Jo Tenuto was asked to cover up her Reagan Centennial t-shirt before she could vote. She complied, but wasn't happy: "I felt like this is an infringement on my rights. I’m putting on a T-shirt. It wasn’t endorsing a party. . . . Ronald Reagan is dead. He is not on the ballot." The shirt is certainly one of the more inocuous examples of Reagan-wear, but the extent to which Republicans, particularly in this election, have aligned themselves with his image and memory, the response is not that surprising. A Lincoln t-shirt - presumably abundant in Illinois - would probably be fine, but it will be a while before Reagan ascends above the partisan fray to a bland national iconography.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Obama '84

A new poll shows that 48% of Americans want Obama to run for a second term. In August 1982, only 36% liked the idea of Reagan running again, and 51% thought he should not. These numbers widened to 35% and 57% by February 1983. He still ran, of course, and won by a great margin.

The poll mainly shows the level of partisan division over Obama: 83% of Democrats want him to run, compared to 12% of Republicans (it was 19%-65% for Reagan, respectively). So it certainly implies an easy nomination, but also a need to win over some independents and, if it is at all possible, soften GOP opinion on him, to gain 50%+ approval.

Interestingly, though, and confusing the meaning of the poll, the only two recent presidents to have half or more Americans wanting them to run again were Carter and GHW Bush - who both failed to win reelection.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Legacy Project in Action?

John J. Miller is recruiting readers at the National Review's Corner to help get his new local elementary school named after Ronald Reagan. Presumably, the school board will ignore suggestions coming from outside Prince William County, VA, but you have to admire the effort.

Incidentally, the county is named after Prince William (1721-1765), the Butcher of Culloden, not the current one. Perhaps the school should be named after him?