Obama Praises Ronald Reagan as 'Singular Figure'

Hard to guess what Obama's game is here but in an interview with the Reno-Gazette editorial board, the Democratic contender for the nomination praised Ronald Reagan and gave some decidedly un-progressive reasons for his admiration:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.
(Transcription from video courtesy of Open Left) Many heads exploding today on the left.

Matt Stoller:
It is extremely disturbing to hear, not that Obama admires Reagan, but why he does so. Reagan was not a sunny optimist pushing dynamic entrepreneurship, but a savvy politician using a civil rights backlash to catapult conservatives to power. Lots of people don't agree with this, of course, since it doesn't fit a coherent narrative of GOP ascendancy. Masking Reagan's true political underpinning principles is a central goal of the conservative movement, with someone as powerful as Grover Norquist seeking to put Reagan's name on as many monuments as possible and the Republican candidates themselves using Reagan's name instead of George Bush's in GOP debates as a mark of greatness. Why would the conservative movement create such idolatry around Reagan? Is is because they just want to honor a great man? Perhaps that is some of it. Or are they trying to escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years, as they did after Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I?
Mr. Stoller cannot be taken seriously if he actually believes that conservatives are trying to "escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years..." That's the kind of shallow, vapid analysis one would expect from a partisan hack like Stoller but does not reflect the reality of what is happening on the right.

Indeed, others on the left have been pushing this notion that Reagan's success as a politician was due almost entirely to his pandering to southern whites and playing the race card:

 
No, Ronald Reagan didn't appeal to people's optimism, he appealed to their petty, small minded bigotry and selfishness. Jimmy Carter told people to tighten their energy belts and act for the good of the country; Ronald Reagan told them they could guzzle gas with impunity and do whatever the hell they wanted. He kicked off his 1980 campaign talking about "state's rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi -- the site of the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964's Freedom Summer. He thus put up a welcome sign for "Reagan Democrats," peeling off white voters who were unhappy with the multi-ethnic coalition within the Democratic Party.
Only those ignorant of the concept of federalism and Reagan's commitment to turning back the tide of federal control - not in matters of civil rights - but in education and other areas where there was federal overreach. would posit the notion that Reagan was giving a "green light" to racists.

In fact, Obama's analysis would seem to validate Reagan's critique - that the government had "grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating." This disconent was fed by people like Carter who talked consistently about America's better days being behind it and that we must learn to live with less. With that kind of attitude, there would still be a Soviet Union today and America would probably look a lot like it.

The hard left will never understand Reagan nor what his revolution was about or what it has wrought. Obama has made one of the more astute moves of the campaign - if he isn't forced to backtrack and qualify his words about Reagan. By invoking The Gipper, he establishes a powerful connection with a true agent of change - despite the fact that his policies would serve to undermine most of what Reagan accomplished and represented. As long as he sticks with generalities and platitudes, he can obscure that part of his program.

Obama's surprising words about Reagan won't garner him too many GOP votes. But it will soften his image so that he doesn't look like quite the progressive ogre many on the right would like to paint him.
Hard to guess what Obama's game is here but in an interview with the Reno-Gazette editorial board, the Democratic contender for the nomination praised Ronald Reagan and gave some decidedly un-progressive reasons for his admiration:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.
(Transcription from video courtesy of Open Left) Many heads exploding today on the left.

Matt Stoller:
It is extremely disturbing to hear, not that Obama admires Reagan, but why he does so. Reagan was not a sunny optimist pushing dynamic entrepreneurship, but a savvy politician using a civil rights backlash to catapult conservatives to power. Lots of people don't agree with this, of course, since it doesn't fit a coherent narrative of GOP ascendancy. Masking Reagan's true political underpinning principles is a central goal of the conservative movement, with someone as powerful as Grover Norquist seeking to put Reagan's name on as many monuments as possible and the Republican candidates themselves using Reagan's name instead of George Bush's in GOP debates as a mark of greatness. Why would the conservative movement create such idolatry around Reagan? Is is because they just want to honor a great man? Perhaps that is some of it. Or are they trying to escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years, as they did after Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I?
Mr. Stoller cannot be taken seriously if he actually believes that conservatives are trying to "escape the legacy of the conservative movement so that it can be rebuilt in a few years..." That's the kind of shallow, vapid analysis one would expect from a partisan hack like Stoller but does not reflect the reality of what is happening on the right.

Indeed, others on the left have been pushing this notion that Reagan's success as a politician was due almost entirely to his pandering to southern whites and playing the race card:

 
No, Ronald Reagan didn't appeal to people's optimism, he appealed to their petty, small minded bigotry and selfishness. Jimmy Carter told people to tighten their energy belts and act for the good of the country; Ronald Reagan told them they could guzzle gas with impunity and do whatever the hell they wanted. He kicked off his 1980 campaign talking about "state's rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi -- the site of the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964's Freedom Summer. He thus put up a welcome sign for "Reagan Democrats," peeling off white voters who were unhappy with the multi-ethnic coalition within the Democratic Party.
Only those ignorant of the concept of federalism and Reagan's commitment to turning back the tide of federal control - not in matters of civil rights - but in education and other areas where there was federal overreach. would posit the notion that Reagan was giving a "green light" to racists.

In fact, Obama's analysis would seem to validate Reagan's critique - that the government had "grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating." This disconent was fed by people like Carter who talked consistently about America's better days being behind it and that we must learn to live with less. With that kind of attitude, there would still be a Soviet Union today and America would probably look a lot like it.

The hard left will never understand Reagan nor what his revolution was about or what it has wrought. Obama has made one of the more astute moves of the campaign - if he isn't forced to backtrack and qualify his words about Reagan. By invoking The Gipper, he establishes a powerful connection with a true agent of change - despite the fact that his policies would serve to undermine most of what Reagan accomplished and represented. As long as he sticks with generalities and platitudes, he can obscure that part of his program.

Obama's surprising words about Reagan won't garner him too many GOP votes. But it will soften his image so that he doesn't look like quite the progressive ogre many on the right would like to paint him.