If there is a standard liberal line on Ronald Reagan today, it is this bizarre notion that Reagan is so far left of the current Republican contenders that they'd rip him to pieces if he were alive.
Today's case in point: Washington Post columnist/blogger Ezra Klein insists Reagan "would have been destroyed" on the stage last night, since he had such a deep pragmatic streak as president. Yes, that's the same president the media often portrayed during his two terms as an ultra-conservative nut. (Not so much Ezra Klein, who was born in 1984.)
There’s no doubt who won last night’s Republican presidential debate: Ronald Reagan. He even got a montage set to the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. But the funny thing is that if the actual Ronald Reagan had been on that stage defending his actual record, he would almost certainly have lost. In fact, he would have been destroyed.
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Klein trotted out the old line that Reagan raised taxes four times from 1982 to 1984, and his 1986 tax reform supposedly would have made Walter Mondale proud (so grumped old adviser William Niskanen).
I want to be very clear: My point isn’t to suggest that Reagan was some closet liberal. This is still the president who signed one of the largest tax cuts in history. My point is to say Reagan was a conservative who was willing to compromise with reality. And that’s not something I heard a lot of on the stage last night.
In this perfunctory exercise of How Wacky to the Right Are They?, Klein seemed unwilling to consider that perhaps a President Romney or Perry or Bachmann or Santorum would be more pragmatic once they sat down in the Oval and looked at the votes in Congress. After all, Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2007 sounded a lot more radical than President Obama -- especially on Iraq and the war on terror.