As someone who runs a business specializing in commercial and political web consulting, I sometimes tell people that were I to suddenly become interested in advising Democratic campaigns or liberal groups, my ability to get free media plugs for my business would probably triple overnight, just simply by virtue of the fact that I would become so much more useful to the left.
The same phenomenon exists with regard to Republican political figures. The moment they're out of power and no longer a threat to the current Democratic powers-that-be, they begin to be regarded as statesmen and great leaders by America's media elite--particularly when compared to the extremist yobs who call themselves Republicans today. This sudden respect for the likes of Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower is quite humorous to behold, particularly because it's so laughably incorrect. The Republican party has indeed drifted in a direction but it's been leftward.
After showing one of the recent media manifestations of this phenomenon in a conversation between the slavishly conventionally liberal Chris Matthews and his pal Howard Fineman, the Weekly Standard takes a knife to the absurd notion that conservative figures like Texas governor Rick Perry or former Alaska governor Sarah Palin are somehow out of the mainstream when it comes to Republicans of the past by focusing on the record of former GOP president Gerald Ford, often hailed as a casualty of nefarious conservatives on the warpath:
1. He voted against the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which sent funds to cities to combat poverty.
2. He voted to recommit Medicare/Medicaid to the House Ways and Means Committee, with instructions to create a voluntary program.
3. He voted against the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which provided federal funds to local schools.
4. He voted against making Housing and Urban Development a cabinet-level position.
5. He voted to recommit the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 with instructions to remove the rent subsidies for poor families.
6. He voted against repealing Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which authorizes right to work laws.
7. During the Great Society period (1964-1966), Ford received a legislative score of just 9/100 from Americans for Democratic Action and 3/100 from the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education.
The only politically contentious issue from this list in today’s debate is right to work. Everything else is settled in principle. Republicans regularly vote for anti-poverty and urban programs, Medicare and Medicaid funding, education funding, and so on. When the GOP had complete control of the government from 2003 through 2007 none of these programs disappeared. In other words, the Republican party once opposed the Great Society, but with the passage of time, it has accepted the politically popular elements of it. The debate today is not whether the federal government should support these activities, but who should control the funds, how should the programs be evaluated, and what level of funding will achieve maximum results?
Since Fineman and Matthews only read a very tiny amount of conservative news or opinion, don't expect these points to ever reach them. Keep them handy for your own reference, particularly as the Republican primary process begins to heat up and the media step up their pseudo-historical attacks on conservatives. Naturally, they won't bother to mention how Democrats like Henry "Scoop" Jackson or Harry Truman would feel about being lumped in with the likes of Barack Obama, Cindy Sheehan, Howard Dean, or Maxine Waters.
Ann Coulter also had a good take on this a few years ago regarding Ronald Reagan, another Republican who you often see used as a cudgel to bash the conservatives of today:
More enraging than their revisionist history of Reagan, is liberals' revisionist history about themselves. Now liberals claim they liked Reagan at the time. This is extremely believable - aren't we all fond of someone who regularly exposes us as liars, cowards and hypocrites? It's just human nature.
In fact and of course, liberals loathed Reagan. Their European friends loathed Reagan - the protests against our current president are positively anemic compared to the massive protests against President Reagan when he went to visit our dear "allies," whose sorry asses we spent billions of dollars defending against the Soviets for 50 years. [...]
But now they're telling us Reagan was a "pragmatist." Well, not according to him. As he was wrapping up the Republican primaries in 1980 and moderate weenies in the Republican Party were trying to move him to the "center," Reagan said: "No, I'm not moving my positions any. ... I believe the same things that I've been speaking on for years, and I don't see any reason to change."
Thank God he didn't. Because Reagan lived, the world is a better place.