After any debate, the first and most natural question is “who won?” Last night, the winner was obvious: Ronald Reagan.
Look, I know Reagan is the only president of the 20th century that Republicans really like. And I know that the debate was being held at the Reagan Library in California. But over the course of 90 minutes, the candidates specifically referenced the 40th president 20 times. If you count more oblique references (Gilmore thanked “the president in whose name this library is named”), the number climbs to 25. If you include references to Reagan by debate moderator Chris Matthews, well, we get pretty close to triple digits.
This just isn’t healthy. If this was a drinking game, players would have been three sheets to the wind within the first half hour. Even Peggy Noonan, who is second to no one among Reagan worshipers, explained in her column today that enough is enough.
[T]he media’s fixation with which Republican is the most like Reagan, and who is the next Reagan, and who parts his hair like Reagan, is absurd, and subtly undermining of Republicans, which is why they do it. Reagan was Reagan, a particular man at a particular point in history. What is to be desired now is a new greatness. Another way of saying this is that in 1960, John F. Kennedy wasn’t trying to be the next FDR, and didn’t feel forced to be. FDR was the great, looming president of Democratic Party history, and there hadn’t been anyone as big or successful since 1945, but JFK thought it was good enough to be the best JFK. And the press wasn’t always sitting around saying he was no FDR. Oddly enough, they didn’t consider that an interesting theme.
They should stop it already, and Republicans should stop playing along.
Too bad no one thought to tell them this before last night.