Comparing Reagan and Trump

It may be heresy to some, but astute political observers are beginning to compare Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan. Speaking last night to Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, Rudy Giuliani made the association (via Real Clear Politics):

 "First of all, he's not a Roman candle," Giuliani told host Chris Matthews. "This is a very smart guy. This is a person who is media savvy in ways that some of the other candidates aren't. And he's a lot more substantive than you realize. I've known Donald 25 years. Meaning, he understands a lot of the world issues with a lot more depth than you probably realize."

 

"So we might have a little of a Ronald Reagan here, a guy they underestimate," Giuliani observed. "And in my particular case, I'm personal friends with five or six of them. And I have a hard time deciding who I'd like to see be president and I'm probably going to take a little while. But I expect Donald Trump is going to do pretty darn well tomorrow night."

AT frequent contributor Bernie Reeves notes a few other points of comparison in correspondence:

The mocking coverage of Trump by the MSM echoes the condescending criticism dished to Reagan in 1981. The Donald is characterized as an egotistical real estate billionaire; in 1980, Reagan as a third-rate B-Movie actor.  The Donald says build that wall (to curb illegal immigration) while Reagan said "tear down that wall" that spelled the end of Soviet communism. The Donald says he will undo Obamanomics while Regan said he would cut taxes and spending. Is history repeating itself?

Even Republican guru Karl Rove became tongue-tied when asked about Trump's amazing number one ranking Republican candidate in presidential polls. The pundits on both sides of the media divide assured audiences the early high numbers for Trump would fizzle the next time after he attacked John McCain. But no, they climbed even higher, leading early favorite Jeb Bush by 24 to 12 points. Trump's tough talk came just after early leader Jeb Bush went wishy-washy when asked about his brother George's invasion of Iraq. Bush sinks as Trump rises.

The Democrats, even though caught off guard, are characterizing Trump's ascension as a Godsend, providing a large and easy target to attack to prove Republicans are blowhard plutocrats. Core Republicans do not like Trump either, for his ego and inconsistent political contributions in the past. Like Reagan, the Democrat s and their lap dogs in the MSM don't like Trump either. He must be doing something right.

He was savvier than his enemies and detractors for correctly predicting illegal immigration has to be stopped. He is not afraid to trumpet (pun intended) he will make America great again," intimating the country was far better off before Obama shoved politically correct rules -- using  dictatorial executive orders -- to wage class warfare. Trump is a valid contender for not being intimidated by politically correct blowback like the other candidates. He represents extreme change, what Americans want as fast as possible.

Another similarity between Trump and Regan: they both gained traction in reaction to a Democrat president who weakened America, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

There are other points of comparison. Both men did not hesitate to speak blunt truths in pithy, direct language. Neither was afraid of offending the sensibilities of the perceived enemies of America.

Trump, like Reagan, is a master showman, completely comfortable in front of the camera, and able to be himself and metaphorically reach through the screen, connecting with viewers. The contrast to the rest of the field is startling.

Trump, like Reagan, has not been a conservative all of his life. The famous one-liner Reagan used to describe his past as a Democrat might well be adopted by Trump: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party – it left me.” Trump’s donations to Democrats, including Hillary, open the door for him to make this sort of argument, while denouncing the need for wealthy business interests to buy off both parties. In much the same way that Joseph P. Kennedy (scion of the Kennedy dynasty), a notorious Wall Street  swindler was able to be an effective and credible chairman of the SEC under FDR, Trump could claim a mandate and the skills to clean up the mess in Washington, where donors have the inside track.

Ronald Reagan was also a classic (and highly successful) executive of the hands-off school. He hired people whose abilities and judgment he trusted and then let them do their jobs. At the time, he was excoriated for his short working days, even branded “lazy” and “an amiable dunce.” Based on his rhetoric, Trump also seems to believe in hiring top people and letting them do their jobs.

That said, there are some serous and important differences to keep in mind. Reagan articulated his deep commitment to principles, whereas it is hard to discern what kind of principles animate Trump, beyond pursuit of his self-interest. Reagan wrote out by hand and delivered hundreds of radio commentaries on political issues of his day, a feat for which he got little credit until; his presidency was over.

And Reagan, in his master showmanship, came across as genial, a friendly presence, the kind of guy a soap company would hire to host a television dramatic series (Death Valley Days). Trump is most famous for uttering, “You’re fired!” Still that hardline approach in an era of bloated government and spiraling debt may have its appeal more than someone you’d be comfortable inviting into your living room.

It is safe to say that the pundit class has largely beclowned itself (so far) with its predictions of Trump’s imminent demise. But keep in mind that there is still time – a lot of time – before votes start being cast.  And Trump’s critics have a lot of material to work with.

I have been watching presidential politics since the Eisenhower administration, and I have never seen anything quite like the Trump phenomenon.

It may be heresy to some, but astute political observers are beginning to compare Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan. Speaking last night to Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, Rudy Giuliani made the association (via Real Clear Politics):

 "First of all, he's not a Roman candle," Giuliani told host Chris Matthews. "This is a very smart guy. This is a person who is media savvy in ways that some of the other candidates aren't. And he's a lot more substantive than you realize. I've known Donald 25 years. Meaning, he understands a lot of the world issues with a lot more depth than you probably realize."

 

"So we might have a little of a Ronald Reagan here, a guy they underestimate," Giuliani observed. "And in my particular case, I'm personal friends with five or six of them. And I have a hard time deciding who I'd like to see be president and I'm probably going to take a little while. But I expect Donald Trump is going to do pretty darn well tomorrow night."

AT frequent contributor Bernie Reeves notes a few other points of comparison in correspondence:

The mocking coverage of Trump by the MSM echoes the condescending criticism dished to Reagan in 1981. The Donald is characterized as an egotistical real estate billionaire; in 1980, Reagan as a third-rate B-Movie actor.  The Donald says build that wall (to curb illegal immigration) while Reagan said "tear down that wall" that spelled the end of Soviet communism. The Donald says he will undo Obamanomics while Regan said he would cut taxes and spending. Is history repeating itself?

Even Republican guru Karl Rove became tongue-tied when asked about Trump's amazing number one ranking Republican candidate in presidential polls. The pundits on both sides of the media divide assured audiences the early high numbers for Trump would fizzle the next time after he attacked John McCain. But no, they climbed even higher, leading early favorite Jeb Bush by 24 to 12 points. Trump's tough talk came just after early leader Jeb Bush went wishy-washy when asked about his brother George's invasion of Iraq. Bush sinks as Trump rises.

The Democrats, even though caught off guard, are characterizing Trump's ascension as a Godsend, providing a large and easy target to attack to prove Republicans are blowhard plutocrats. Core Republicans do not like Trump either, for his ego and inconsistent political contributions in the past. Like Reagan, the Democrat s and their lap dogs in the MSM don't like Trump either. He must be doing something right.

He was savvier than his enemies and detractors for correctly predicting illegal immigration has to be stopped. He is not afraid to trumpet (pun intended) he will make America great again," intimating the country was far better off before Obama shoved politically correct rules -- using  dictatorial executive orders -- to wage class warfare. Trump is a valid contender for not being intimidated by politically correct blowback like the other candidates. He represents extreme change, what Americans want as fast as possible.

Another similarity between Trump and Regan: they both gained traction in reaction to a Democrat president who weakened America, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

There are other points of comparison. Both men did not hesitate to speak blunt truths in pithy, direct language. Neither was afraid of offending the sensibilities of the perceived enemies of America.

Trump, like Reagan, is a master showman, completely comfortable in front of the camera, and able to be himself and metaphorically reach through the screen, connecting with viewers. The contrast to the rest of the field is startling.

Trump, like Reagan, has not been a conservative all of his life. The famous one-liner Reagan used to describe his past as a Democrat might well be adopted by Trump: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party – it left me.” Trump’s donations to Democrats, including Hillary, open the door for him to make this sort of argument, while denouncing the need for wealthy business interests to buy off both parties. In much the same way that Joseph P. Kennedy (scion of the Kennedy dynasty), a notorious Wall Street  swindler was able to be an effective and credible chairman of the SEC under FDR, Trump could claim a mandate and the skills to clean up the mess in Washington, where donors have the inside track.

Ronald Reagan was also a classic (and highly successful) executive of the hands-off school. He hired people whose abilities and judgment he trusted and then let them do their jobs. At the time, he was excoriated for his short working days, even branded “lazy” and “an amiable dunce.” Based on his rhetoric, Trump also seems to believe in hiring top people and letting them do their jobs.

That said, there are some serous and important differences to keep in mind. Reagan articulated his deep commitment to principles, whereas it is hard to discern what kind of principles animate Trump, beyond pursuit of his self-interest. Reagan wrote out by hand and delivered hundreds of radio commentaries on political issues of his day, a feat for which he got little credit until; his presidency was over.

And Reagan, in his master showmanship, came across as genial, a friendly presence, the kind of guy a soap company would hire to host a television dramatic series (Death Valley Days). Trump is most famous for uttering, “You’re fired!” Still that hardline approach in an era of bloated government and spiraling debt may have its appeal more than someone you’d be comfortable inviting into your living room.

It is safe to say that the pundit class has largely beclowned itself (so far) with its predictions of Trump’s imminent demise. But keep in mind that there is still time – a lot of time – before votes start being cast.  And Trump’s critics have a lot of material to work with.

I have been watching presidential politics since the Eisenhower administration, and I have never seen anything quite like the Trump phenomenon.