Posts tagged Ronald Reagan
For decades, the term “politically correct” has been used almost exclusively to describe a liberal mindset. In the 1990s, as part of the Gingrich Revolution, it became a pejorative used by the right against Democrats. Yet, along the way, the underlying manifestation of political correctness has become more of a conservative concept than a liberal one.
What underlying manifestation? It’s all about using specific language, and social rules around the language, to drive discussion. Certain terms are verboten, to be replaced by others designed to instill a set of beliefs.
How did a liberal tool become a tool for the right? Like so many of the Republicans’ problems today, the answer points to President Ronald Reagan. (more…)
We can use President Obama’s performance in his first term to give us an inkling of what the President might do in his second term. Last week, I wrote about many of this Administration’s achievements in the area of civil rights. Today, I’ll concentrate on security and foreign policy.
This is a particularly useful area to discuss, as one of the criticisms leveled against then-candidate Obama during the 2008 campaign was his inexperience in foreign matters. This was, indeed, one of the perceived strengths of his campaign opponent, Senator John McCain, as ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, decorated war hero, and undisputed heavyweight in military and foreign policy. A look at how Barack Obama has fared in a field where he wasn’t thought of as having much knowledge could also tell us how well his is likely to do in facing the unexpected challenges we will undoubtedly have to face over the next four years.
On this Fourth of July, on the two hundred thirty-sixth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (or the date on the document, anyway), let’s take a look at one of our most cherished freedoms, next to which nearly everything else pales in significance: the freedom of speech. Without this freedom, it is impossible to have a national debate, impossible to have a discussion of social issues, impossible to express dissent, or to advance a cause or to worship as we choose. The right to assemble or to petition the government for a redress of grievances is meaningless, if you can only say approved things. You can’t run for office against an incumbent, or rely on the existence of a free press. There is no other right so central to our democracy.
But there are limits, even on this most basic of freedoms. One is not entitled to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. It is illegal to threaten the President. The Supreme Court, only three years ago, affirmed the right of corporate persons to out-shout everyone else.
But perhaps most importantly, forty years ago, George Carlin gave us the classic description of the seven words you can’t say on television. This puts limits on everyday speech by everyday persons. Recently, it seems, there has been an addition to the forbidden words. This addition has had a chilling effect on our politics, our priorities, and even our privileges.
I am talking about the most obscene word in American cultural language today, the word that makes strong men faint and war heroes tremble, the single word that can destroy a political career or even cause a landslide to backfire, the Policy That Dare Not Speak Its Name. I am talking about the word (shield your eyes and whisper it in secret): tax. (more…)
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama gave a preview of the themes we can expect to see in his reëlection campaign. It was a soaring and forward-looking speech, expressing optimism and acknowledging the mountain of work there remains to do. In the Florida primary, we got a preview of what the Republican side of that campaign is likely to be.
There was a carpetbombing of televised advertising. Nearly all the ads in the last week — 92 percent — were negative attack ads. Mitt Romney’s campaign outspent Newt Gingrich by at least three to one. Less than 0.1 percent of Romney’s ads were positive things about Romney. The other 99.9 percent were attacks on Newt or the President or both. Newt himself was no slouch in the negative department. Look to the left for a photo of Newt holding up a sign comparing “Romneycare” to “Obamacare”, with Romney painted in the Joker face that got plastered on President Obama in Tea Party signs from 2009.
The lesson we can take from the Florida Republican primary is that it is midnight in America.
Say you’re the President of the United States. The country’s in the middle of a recession, unemployment’s over 10%, and you’re faced with a severe budget deficit. What do you do?
If your answer was “sign a bill with a mix of tax increases and spending reductions”, congratulations. You may be the late President Ronald Reagan. (more…)
We are witness this campaign season to something that has not happened in a long time — a nationwide internal fight among Republicans. Democrats do this all the time. Republicans usually have more discipline. Why is it happening? Why is it happening now?
Ronald Reagan instituted an Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” This edict served the party well, and, surprisingly, it lasted for some three decades. I categorize this as a “surprise,” because politicians are inherently an ambitious, egotistic, and self-centered bunch. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to run for elected office, and to believe anyone wants to vote for you. People with that much ambition and inflated self-esteem naturally feel it’s their right to use whatever underhanded tools will help them get ahead.