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Ralph Benko’s op-ed is the perfect counterargument to Michael Tomasky’s silly column, which I wrote about here. Benko didn’t waste time in highlighting the flaw in Tomasky’s logic:

Liberals do not grasp the distinction between Ronald Reagan and (either) George Bush. This blind spot creates a massive confusion and hazard to their ambitions. Obama defeated neither the Reagan Narrative nor Team Reagan. Team Bush appropriated, and then marginalized, both. Obama beat Team Bush, not Team Reagan. The implications are huge.

This post isn’t about trashing Karl Rove or the Bush family. Frankly, that’s a waste of time when there’s important things to be done. Instead, it’s about identifying underlying principles undergirded President Reagan’s policies. Mr. Benko is spot on with this analysis:

Real conservatives saw Reaganomics as a way of creating broad-based opportunity, not as catering to the rich. It worked out exactly that way in America and throughout the world. The blossoming of free market principles, especially low tax rates and good money, brought billions of souls out of poverty, from subsistence to affluence.

Several things worked together to make America infinitely more prosperous during Reagan’s time than during President Obama’s time in office. First, the dollar was much stronger than during President Obama’s time in office. That’s partially because President Reagan’s domestic energy policy was infinitely more robust than President Obama’s. The less money we needlessly ship money overseas for oil, the stronger the dollar is. Our trade deficit shrunk, too.

The new conservative Republican leaders are strikingly formidable. The leaders of the new generation, like Reagan, and Kemp, before them (and Kennedy still earlier), all recognize the power of the “rising tide lifts all boats”.

It isn’t a stretch to think that conservatives like John Kasich, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio will re-ignite the Reagan Revolution. Each of these men have spotless conservative credentials, which is why they fire up the base in ways Mitt Romney and John McCain couldn’t.

When President Bush won in 2004, he got 62,000,000 votes. McCain got fewer votes than President Bush. Mitt got fewer votes than Sen. McCain. Had Paul Ryan been at the top of the ticket, however, it isn’t a stretch to think he would’ve topped President Bush’s vote total.

That’s because he’s the spitting image of Reagan. The Reagan Revolution was fueled by a glut of great ideas. A Ryan Revolution would be powered by the same thing. Most importantly, he’d talk conservatism like his native language. This isn’t an attempt to trash Mitt. It’s simply stating the obvious. He just didn’t prosecute the case against President Obama the way Ryan would have.

President Bush’s spending turned conservatives off because he had a Republican House and Senate much of the time. President Reagan’s spending was done, in part, because he had to rebuild the military after President Carter gutted it, partly because Tip O’Neill controlled the House.

Everything President Reagan fought for was targeted towards creating prosperity. He didn’t back away from a fight, either. When PATCO went on strike, he fired them because they broke federal law. When Tip O’Neill accused him of not caring about the average working Joe, Reagan responded mightily. His temper flaring, he marched back to the podium, then said, essentially, that he’d made his money because he’d worked hard, then adding that it wasn’t given to him.

It’s a fight Mitt Romney backed away from too often in his attempt to win over women voters or independents. It’s a fight the next generation of conservatives will fight with vigor.

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2 Responses to “Tomasky vs. Benko”

  • eric z says:

    Reagan was a disaster, and wasn’t it GHW Bush calling the shots as Cheney called shots for GW Bush?

  • Gary Gross says:

    Eric, Reagan was a Mount Rushmore worthy president. He destroyed the Soviet Union. He took over the economy at a time when unemployment was in double digits, interest rates were 13%-15% & inflation was 10+ percent.

    Three years later, in Sept., 1983, the economy responded to his signature legislation by creating 1,100,000 that month alone. That’s just 4 times as many jobs that were created in President Obama’s best month.

    Please think before making a foolish statement that GHW Bush ran things during Reagan. Look at the dramatically different agendas they had. All I ask, Eric, is that you apply a little common sense & a little due diligence.

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