Not long after Ronald Reagan completed his two terms in the White House, conservative activists launched something called the “Reagan Legacy Project.” The fear was that history would be unkind to the Republican icon – when an administration sells weapons to an enemy to finance an illegal war in central America, then covers it up, then lies about its misdeeds, it leaves a mark – so the right needed to give the president a public-relations boost.
It’s worked out quite well. At Republicans’ urging, Reagan’s name is everywhere – schools, bridges, courthouses, highways, airports, children, etc. – and the former president’s reputation is better now than when he was actually in office. Last year, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) even tried to rename nearly all of the water surrounding the United States after Reagan.
And the p.r. campaign isn’t done yet.
Lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday advanced a bill that would name a Nevada mountain peak after the late President Ronald Reagan.Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) proposed the legislation that would name part of Frenchman Mountain, located east of Las Vegas, “Mount Reagan.”Committee members approved the measure by voice vote Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.
Of course, the measure was only approved after committee Democrats openly mocked the GOP’s preoccupation with the man the RNC once literally referred to as “Ronaldus Magnus.” In fact, one unnamed Democratic lawmaker “suggested the entire planet be named after the 40th president.”
Perhaps Dems shouldn’t give Republicans any ideas.
It’s worth noting that the United States already has a Mount Reagan – it’s in New Hampshire – but for GOP lawmakers, that’s apparently not quite good enough.
At this point, House passage appears likely, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the AP he has higher priorities for his home state.
But as we’ve discussed before, what I find especially curious about all of this is that today’s Republican Party, radicalized to an extent unseen in the United States in recent history, has absolutely no use for the Reagan legacy. None.
As we talked about in 2012, Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and he supported the precursor to the Buffett Rule. In his first term, Reagan raised taxes when unemployment was nearing 11% – imagine trying this today – and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. It’s a fact the right finds terribly inconvenient, but “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.
Reagan gave amnesty to undocumented immigrants, expanded the size of the federal government, tripled the debt, backed bailouts of domestic industries, and called for a world without nuclear weapons. Reagan also routinely compromised with Democrats, met with our most hated enemy without preconditions, and was willing to criticize Israel.
And then there’s his gubernatorial record: in California, Reagan increased spending, raised taxes, helped create the nation’s first state-based emissions standards, signed an abortion-rights bill, and expanded the nation’s largest state-based Medicaid program.
Maybe today’s GOP policymakers should focus less on naming stuff after Reagan and focus more on governing like him?
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