January 28, 2011

Obama invoking Reagan (incorrectly)

The comparisons of President Obama to Ronald Reagan are back in vogue.  It IS ridiculous.  But from the liberal perspective there is some logic to not just doing it, but in the comparison itself. Understand, I`m not condoning the comparison, just attempting to explain it.

Firstly, the effort to compare the two is certainly politically driven. They have compared Obama to Lincoln, Reagan and Roosevelt.  That`s some heady company.  The President is deserving of none of those comparisons, with perhaps the exception of Roosevelt in terms of the ambitious nature of his agenda.  By making the Reagan comparisons now the left is attempting to do two things;

(1) to elevate Obama to the same stature of Reagan.  If they really have to try to create that image and it hasn`t taken hold naturally it probably won`t.
(2) to create the impression that Obama has moved to the center by moving the center towards him.  Any comparison of Obama to Reagan the must reason, creates the impression that these are both grand men with grand ambitions for America and that they both only had what`s best for the country in mind.  Thus in the minds of those in the center the reasoning goes, while the methods may differ, the outcome will be the same -  a better America.  Again, it`s something that probably makes sense to them but I can`t see independents falling for something that superficial.

Which brings me to the left`s sense that this is a valid comparison.  President Obama himself has stated he liked how Regan was a transformational figure and how he was able to connect with the common man.  As Time magazine`s Managing Editor Richard Stengel stated on MSNBC,`not in terms of substance, but in terms of style`. And that`s the crux of it. They are focused on style not substantive and that makes the comparison valid. It`s their approach to elections and to legislation. It is better to look good that to be good. It`s a classic progressive approach.

But Republicans need to keep something in mind, style can win. Reagan had both style and substance. Bill Clinton had style without substance (triangulation is not substance). Barack Obama has style and it overshadowed his liberal substance. Conservatives require substance, but it might be the case that electoral victory requires style as much as substance.

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