Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reagan PAC

Where to start? Why not with Michael Reagan, the first family's second oldest and second least wayward child, and his recent promotion of Reagan PAC, an organisation devoted to supporting conservative candidates in the upcoming elections.

The Committee has been launched in the context of the Tea Party, which Michael discusses in the Sun Journal. His claim that his father would have supported the movement is partly an amplified family spat, in response to his brother, Ron Jr., who recently suggested Ron Sr. would have been "unamused by the tea partiers with their Hitler signs and all the rest of it." It does seem likely that Reagan would have enjoyed and supported the spirit and message of the tea parties, and turned a blind eye to their angrier, uglier moments - certainly, at least, as a candidate. As President, their ire may well have been directed towards him. Micheal's point about not judging a movement by its looks recalls Reagan's description of Berkeley protester as someone who "had a haircut like Tarzan, walked like Jane, and smelled like Cheetah". Comparisons between the anti-establishment protests of the left and right can only go so far, but it would be nice to think that the Tea Party's experience of media demonisation and ridicule might lead to an enlightened respect by the right for the hippies and traitors of the left. (To be fair, Governor and President Reagan did earn some points for earnest, if unsatisfying, engagement with the grassroots demonstrations against his policies.)

Reagan PAC asks of candidates to pledge to five conservative principles, and a standard of ethical behaviour. This is a simpler and broader version of the Reagan purity test which Micahel Steele prevented the RNC from adopting, and which, as has been much discussed and as his son concedes, Reagan may well have failed. Currently, just one candidate has signed the pledge - Rand Paul. Ron Paul made much in 2008 of his isolated support for Ronald Reagan in 1976, and it seems his son is willing to forge his own connection. Ayn Rand, the candidate's namesake, was not so admiring - "'Since he has no program and no ideology to offer, his likeliest motive for entering the Presidential race is power lust.'' (NYT obituary)

"Reagan", it seems, now stands for "Restoring Every American's Government Across the Nation" - Gipperwatch needs its own acronym.

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