Thom Hartmann Props Up Liberal Myth That Reagan Deemed Government 'Evil'

Liberals are insistent that conservatives quote the Second Amendment in its entirety, with emphasis on its first clause -- "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Liberals are more cavalier when it comes to quoting one of Ronald Reagan's most famous remarks, from his first inaugural address, invariably neglecting to include its first clause -- "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem."

Yet another example of selective editing of the Great Communicator's views on government came on Friday from liberal radio host Thom Hartmann when he said this about Reagan while talking with a caller (audio here; video clip after page break) --

He was the first president of the United States to come out and say that government was evil, that government was bad, that government wasn't the solution to problems, government was the problem. He was the first president of the United States to say that the government of the United States was a bad thing. That would have been, in the days of George Washington, in the days of Zachary Taylor, in the days of Abraham Lincoln, in the days of even William McKinley, that would have been considered traitorous language to say that the government of the United States was a bad thing.

There you have it, folks -- a liberal rhapsodizing about the good old days when criticism of government was quickly branded seditious. What a pity for Hartmann that he was born centuries too late. One can only imagine the vehement reaction to follow during any of the presidencies he mentioned to the radical suggestion that women be allowed to vote. Constable, seize that hooligan!

As most conservatives are aware, having heard this claptrap about Reagan for decades, what the man actually said in his first inaugural was considerably more, uh, nuanced, as left-wingers are fond of saying, implying as it does their capacity for furrowed-brow deep thought.

The embedded video contains President Reagan's first inaugural address in its entirety, while his remarks on government in the speech -- and in context -- are quoted below --

These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.

Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps up from maintaining full productivity.

But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political and economic upheavals.

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation?

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding -- we are going to begin to act, beginning today.

The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now as we've had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.

From time to time, we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.

... We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it's not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work -- work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

... It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. ...

As timely today as it was 30 years ago.

President Reagan didn't hate government, Mr. Hartmann -- he hated bad government. You do grasp that they aren't synonymous, don't you?

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts