Today, November 4, marks the thirtieth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s election as president. It is a fitting time to dispense once and for all with the myth that there is any similarity whatsoever between Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.
Washingtonians and insecure politicians obsess with comparisons but can anyone imagine Lincoln or FDR or JFK or Reagan comparing themselves to previous presidents? Far too secure in their own skin, they enjoyed the presidency as Kennedy said paraphrasing the ancient Greeks that it was "the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."
Fellini said, "you must live spherically" and by this, the old movie director meant one should live their lives in many different directions. Reagan was a star athlete and a good student and a class president at Eureka College and a captain of the swim team there.
He was a successful radio broadcaster, favorite movie actor and a six term union president and host of GE Theatre (one of the most popular shows on television all through the 1950's) and a lecturer and a writer and a governor and a political leader and a rancher and a carpenter and horseman and devote Christian and doting father and loving husband and good friend.
He did all these things before becoming the 40th president of the United States and then when he did, he revived a moribund country, resuscitated a dead economy (far worse than Obama's) and then conquered an Evil Empire, freeing millions imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain.
He did all these things because he believed and lived American Exceptionalism.
And then he rode off into the sunset, never worrying about his post-presidency as a means of cleaning up the mess of his time in office.
He left no mess but instead, the country and the world much better off than he found it. Reagan's legacy didn't need to be rehabilitated. After all, his approval rating in January of 1989 was 70 percent. Among voters under 30, it was a mind boggling 85 percent!
Barack Obama, on the other hand, is our first "Facebook" president. He wrote two autobiographies before he was elected. His only world knowledge is in the study of himself which explains his preferred personal pronouns of "I" and "Me" and "My." He is a product of his generation and has never risen about his utterly self-absorbed culture.
Reagan was derided by the elites all the time he was in Washington as some kind of unsophisticated dummy but in fact was an extraordinary well-read man, having developed his own singular and unique ideology, based on the individual.
He arrived at this as a student of the Enlightenment, of faith and of populism. Thomas Paine was his favorite philosopher and embraced the "Natural Law" of man's freedom associated with him and his peers of the time.
Yet Reagan also embraced the faith-based belief that God's plan for Man was freedom as well as the populism of Andrew Jackson, who understood innately that the only system that worked must include, as Reagan said, "maximum freedom consistent with law and order."
One is hard pressed to believe that Obama thinks such thoughts though simpering elitists like Paul McCarthy have bought into the hype and propaganda about Obama. Can anyone recall Obama ever quoting a Founding Father or a great philosopher? Reagan quoted the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian!
Of more immediate concern are the incessant comparisons between 1982 and 2010. In fact, there is no comparison, mainly because even though Reagan's popularity had sagged and support for Reaganomics had fallen, when pressed, in all the polling data, the American people still believed in Reagan's prescriptions.
Today, the American people don't believe in Obama's plan and by overwhelming numbers, too, oppose everything he has sponsored over the past two years.
After 1982, Reagan didn't need to "move to the left." He stuck to his guns by staying the course, the theme of that off-year election. Is anyone urging Obama to "stay the course?"
Reagan's plan eventually came to fruition beginning in January of 1983 when the economy created one million new jobs. The Washington Post thought this was so significant, it was not even reported in the front section of the paper, let alone the front page.
His plan resulted in 96 months of unbroken economic growth, the creation of 18 million new jobs, the eradication of inflation and high interest rates and, to boot, non-defense federal spending fell by nearly 14 percent on his watch.
He also used the veto pen more than any president since Ike.
Let's see if Obamanomics creates one million new jobs next January. Just like Reagan?
Craig Shirley is president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and has written two books on Ronald Reagan, including his newest, "Rendezvous With Destiny" (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2009). He is now working on a third Reagan book and a political biography of Newt Gingrich.