Ronald Reagan

Obamacare: What would Reagan do?

Featured image Henry Olsen, master election analyst and a scholar of Ronald Reagan, asks what position Reagan would take in the Obamacare debate. Olsen concludes that The Gipper would (and did) back government-subsidized medical care for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it and would approve of federal subsidies such as those contained in Obamacare. Olsen bases these conclusions mainly on Reagan’s support for the Kerr Mills Act. Enacted in the pre-Medicare era, »

Tear Down This Wall @ 30

Featured image Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of President Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin that culminated in the famous line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” I began the second volume of my Age of Reagan political biography with an account of it, and it seems worth repeating today: Most of his senior aides didn’t want him to say it.  Indeed, they tried repeatedly to talk him out of »

A little patriotism goes a long way

Featured image The slogan and organizing principle of President Trump’s administration is “America first.” As he explained last night: “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.” This is just common sense. Absent the Obama aberration, no president would think to say it. However, even a message this obvious can use powerful, patriotic rhetoric and effective staging to support it. Trump’s presentation »

“People’s Park” revisited

Featured image In the first volume of his Age of Reagan, Steve Hayward touches on the “People’s Park” incident of 1969 at Berkeley. Steve recalls: “[P]rotestors tried to tear down the fence, and the usual provocateurs incited protestors to start throwing rocks and bottles at the police. [Then California Governor] Reagan didn’t hesitate to dispatch the National Guard to quell the campus; their efforts included the first ever air raid on an »

Obama’s useful idiocy: A look back

Featured image In the closing hours of his second term, President Obama has emerged as a sort of anti-Russian Cold Warrior. He presents such a bizarre spectacle it’s enough to make one wonder whether something else is going on. Is the Emperor fully clothed? The mischievous Victor Davis Hanson says aloud: In its remaining days in power, the Obama administration suddenly punished Vladimir Putin’s Russia for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential »

How Bad Was the Reagan Movie Script?

Featured image Hollywood is fighting back over Will Ferrell’s abandonment of the Reagan-with-Alzheimer’s “comedy.” Two Hollywood tabloids have offered additional details about the plot and nature of the film. How bad was the script? This bad: here’s the Hollywood Reporter: It turns out Reagan is actually a good-natured and well-researched comedy that offers an “alternate take” on seismic events in American history — a direct descendent of 1999’s Dick, in which Kirsten »

The Reagan Coalition Is Dead. What’s Next For Conservatism?

Featured image Ronald Reagan swept to two landslide victories on the strength of his famous three-legged stool—economic conservatism, social conservatism and an internationalist, hawkish foreign policy. But the elements of the Reagan coalition have been drifting apart for some time, and the alliance now appears to be irretrievably fractured. I was talking recently with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while, and when the conversation turned to politics, he said something »

Anchorman Sinks to the Bottom [Updated]

Featured image Any honest assessment of Will Ferrell comedies would have to say they are uneven. The first Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby are classics; Get Hard, Step Brothers, and Blades of Glory, not so much. The best you can say about the next Ferrell vehicle announced yesterday, in which he will portray an Alzheimer-impaired President Reagan being manipulated by his staff, is »

Media Alert: CNN Preview of the Reagan Revolution Tonight

Featured image For those near a TV set around 3:45 Eastern (about one hour from this post time), I’m scheduled for a short CNN segment to comment on the CNN documentary on the 1980s airing this evening at 9 pm Eastern and Pacific time. Tonight’s segment is about the Reagan Revolution, and CNN taped me for two hours last fall for this installment. I haven’t seen the segment, so I’m not sure »

Nancy Reagan, RIP

Featured image News out in the last hour that Nancy Reagan has passed away at 94. I don’t have much to add beyond the obvious—that she was a significant influence on her husband’s career and course once in office, though I also think her influence was distorted or overstated in some ways. I didn’t write about her much in my two Reagan books in part because I became convinced that the most »

Discipline in the 2016 race

Featured image John Sears, Ronald Reagan’s one-time campaign manager, once said “discipline is nine-tenths of politics.” And, as Tevi Troy reminds us: Candidate Reagan put Sears’ dictum into action, running a relentlessly focused communication operation that kept to its message of the day, often to the consternation of the reporters following the campaign. This approach continued into Reagan’s presidency. As the authors of All the President’s Spin put it: “Ronald Reagan’s administration »