Now here comes the ubiquitous Sarah Palin claiming the mantle of Ronald Reagan's
legacy. I have recently been minimizing the Sarah Palin commentary, and
trying to emphasize more substantive matters, because I am bored to death
by much liberal obsession with Palin and partisan hack jobs by the Dick
Morris types on the right.
In this case, Sarah Palin has nothing in common with Ronald Reagan. Reagan would never have thought of quitting as governor of California, as Palin quit as governor of Alaska. Reagan treated opponents with civility and decency, no matter how much he disagreed with them.
Ronald Reagan believed in the art of negotiation, which he learned as president of the Screen Actors Guild and brought to the presidency of the nation. Reagan believed in working with opponents, as he worked with then-Speaker Tip O'Neill.
Reagan believed in nuclear arms control, and he believed in negotiating with the Soviet Union, even before Gorbachev, when Reagan tried to negotiate with Brezhnev.
Let’s make a larger point today, as we think about the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth.
Ronald Reagan was a giant of historic dimension, especially because of what he did during the Cold War, making a historic contribution to ending the Cold War.
Sarah Palin is a sideshow, a nonentity on matters of substance and politics compared to Reagan. And a large number of Republicans and conservatives have little to nothing in common with what Ronald Reagan believed in, and accomplished. When Reagan was negotiating with Gorbachev, many of the neocons who applaud Reagan today were attacking him then for seeking arms control with the Soviets.
Similarly, far too many Democrats invoke the names of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy without any commitment to the causes or the courage of John and Robert Kennedy. It is easy to talk of Sputnik moments but hard to champion moon-shot greatness.
It would be good if the partisans of both parties would stop invoking the names of the great while pursuing the politics of the mediocre. Invoking the names of Reagan or the Kennedys should be limited to those who emulate their leadership by actions, not the wannabes in a political system and political discourse that does no honor to Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy or Robert Kennedy.
Let’s honor Ronald Reagan for what he did, and not trivialize his name or his achievements with the small-minded politics that defines our times.