Posts Tagged ‘Deroy Murdock’

Reassessing an American cowboy: Thoughts on Reagan’s unexpectedly complex legacy

April 1, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 1, 2016

This week, I stumbled upon “Reconstructing Ronald Reagan,” a 2007 article that Russell Baker wrote for The New York Review of Books. Most of the piece is devoted to a review of John Patrick Diggins’s biography, Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom and the Making of History, and especially the book’s argument that the nation’s 40th president was strongly influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the 19th-century Transcendentalist movement. A secondary concern of the essay, however, is Reagan’s foreign policy legacy: Baker also writes about the books Transforming America: Politics and Culture During the Reagan Years by Robert Collins, The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror by John Arquilla and (much more briefly) the 900-page volume Reagan: A Life in Letters.

Two things struck me about Baker’s article. One was that, writing in 2007, the author could not help comparing the Gipper’s administration with that of the president at the time, George W. Bush, and the comparisons are not kind. A sample:

One hears people formerly contemptuous of [the actor-cum-politician] comment that, having seen Bush, they now rank Reagan with the immortals. It is easy to dismiss this as cynical joking, yet here is the eminently respectable Diggins discussing “the Gipper” in the same paragraph with Lincoln and anointing him as one of American history’s “three great liberators.”

The other thing is that historians give a great deal of credit to Reagan, a fervent anti-communist, for his willingness to engage in diplomacy with the Soviet Union. It turns out that the 40th president had a signal interest in decreasing the likelihood of an apocalyptic nuclear war.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Mr. President, tear down this law’: Considering conservatives’ hostility toward Obamacare

August 22, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 22, 2013

With key deadlines for implementing President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaching — except for when the president himself puts them off, that is — a subgenre of conservative punditry has arisen. The theme that unites this new category of opinionating is that its authors all call for Republicans to unite around a replacement set of health care reforms.

It’s long been clear that Americans on the right dislike, if not outright despise, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Their opposition is ironic for at least two reasons. One is that the conservative Heritage Foundation devised the individual mandate to purchase health insurance that is at the heart of the plan.

The other is that Obamacare is predicated, through that very same individual mandate, upon expanding the customer base of health insurance companies. In other words, the Affordable Care Act is simply not a single-payer system, in which the government assures every citizen a minimal level of health care. And Obamacare really isn’t much of a step toward socialized medicine, which significantly increase government control or regulation of the people and institutions that actually dispense health care.

Back in June, Ramesh Ponnuru published a lengthy essay on the National Review’s website that took conservatives to task for

increasingly embracing [this] theory about Obamacare: It’s going to collapse of its own weight, and its failure could yield a sharp right turn in the 2014 and 2016 elections. That theory is probably wrong, and dangerously so. To be rid of Obamacare, Republicans will have to do more than just wait for it to go away — and more than they have done so far.

Recent public remarks by Obama reinforced Ponnuru’s criticism that GOPers need to get more specific about enacting a replacement for Obamacare. Read the rest of this entry »

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