Wouldn't it have been wonderful if while Ronald Reagan was President the media gushed and fawned over him the way they do now?
On this weekend's syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," the host actually spent half the program discussing with his guests why Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is no Reagan (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: First up, with the sudden rise of Rick Perry, lots of talk about whether he could actually win the White House. Is he the underestimated conservative who could be elected like Ronald Reagan was in 1980?
Polls show Republican voters are convinced Perry could repeat Reagan’s defeat of a weakened Democratic president. But there's some smart analysis out there that says no. It points to these differences between Perry and Ronald Reagan.
First, Reagan was very well known nationally, even famous. Perry's virtually unknown. Reagan was super conservative, but on the national stage, he was not seen as divisive the way Perry is. And Reagan was smooth. He was ideological, but also affable. Look how he handled this famous jab from Jimmy Carter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Governor Reagan as a matter of fact began his political career campaigning around this nation against Medicare.
FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, Perry’s more sharp-elbowed, more spoiling for a fight. And in his interview with Time magazine this week, he bragged about it:
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: There may be someone who is an established Republican who circulates in a cocktail circuit that would find some of my rhetoric to be inflammatory. And I think the American citizens are just tired of all of this political correctness and politicians who are tiptoeing around important issues. They want a decisive leader.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Mike Duffy, there he is on the cover of your magazine, that great interview, but he, is he right? Do they want a leader enough to put up with a real soddy buster [sic] cowboy who has a rough edge?
I think Matthews meant “sodbuster.”
Regardless of the faux pas, he and his guests spent the next eight minutes discussing Perry’s shortcomings and why he isn’t like Reagan.
Next came “The Matthews Meter” to really drive the point home:
MATTHEWS: Let’s go to the meter right now about the question we’ve been asking twelve of our regulars including Katty and Kelly: Is Rick Perry like Ronald Reagan in 1980? Is he the underestimated conservative who could win the White House? Well, the meter says he's not. Eleven say no way. Just one person said yes. All of you including, eleven of you including Kelly, you're first, and then Katty, say this guy is not one of these underestimated. He's properly estimated, and he's not really up to the job of beating Obama you’re suggesting.
KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC: Well, I think that especially when you're talking about Reagan comparisons, that's a big set of shoes to fill. And so I think it's a little early there, and I think for the reasons we’ve talked about. Reagan had a milder public tone…
MATTHEWS: Easier to take.
O’DONNELL: Easier to take.
So in their view, Reagan was “easier to take” in 1980 than Perry is today.
Of course, that’s not what media said about Reagan 31 years ago. Back then he was depicted as just as divisive as Perry is today.
But as always happens with liberal press members, hatred for Republicans starts waning the minute they get out of office and turns almost to adoration after their funeral.
Proving the rule, Matthews ended this lengthy segment with some very flattering video clips of Reagan to really drive home the point about what a wonderful guy he really was.
In case you hadn't gotten it yet, Perry is no Reagan.
To be sure, I am by no means saying Perry is Reagan’s equal. The point here is media members that utterly despised our 40th President when he was campaigning and during his two terms are now speaking glowingly about him in order to diminish current Republican candidates as not being qualified for the job.
Yet this was exactly what they said about Reagan in 1980: he was just a former actor that, yes, had governed California, but was by no means competent enough to be Commander-in-Chief.
Now he's the model nobody on the right can live up to.
If only they had so adored Reagan when he was President.