I cannot adequately express my disgust and outrage at the linking of the greatest president of the twentieth century and godfather of the conservative movement, and the loathsome, leftwingnut Mussolini wannabe under the ludicrous parallel that "They hated Reagan, and they hate Trump the same way". As though there is anything remotely similar about these two men beyond species, gender, and nationality.
"Donald, I knew Ronald Reagan; Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine; and you, Donald, are no Ronald Reagan".
It is astonishing that this has to be pointed out and reiterated, but Ronald Reagan was a pillar of intellectual honesty and integrity and ideological consistency. He was well read, highly informed, had thought long and deeply about what he philosophically believed, and never deviated from it. When he once said that, "I didn't leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me," this is what he meant. The reason the Left of his day, and the GOP "establishment" (back in the days when it really was left-of-center - Jesus H. Christ, am I the only rightwinger with even a rudimentary grasp of twentieth century history anymore?) feared and loathed him was precisely that they knew what he stood for, that he unshakably believed in it, and they stoutly, bitterly, and adamantly opposed it, and therefore, him.
Contrast that with his supposed "counterpart":
The dark art of Trumpism lies in making the individual voter believe that he’s BSing everyone else, that “their” version of Trump is the "true" one and the “other” Trump is just working an angle to protect himself temporarily. If you’re a border hawk, Trump saying that he’s changing on H-1B visas isn’t disqualifying, it’s just a self-serving lie designed to make him seem more moderate on his way to the general election. If you’re more open to legalizing illegals, Trump’s mass deportation demand is just a self-serving lie he’s telling the right to protect his lead in the primaries. If you’re an alt-righter, Trump saying that he loves Israel is just his way of pandering to mainstream conservatives and centrist Democrats. If you’re pro-Israel, Trump dodging Jake Tapper’s questions on David Duke was, unfortunately, just something he had to do to keep his turnout up this month. He’s been doing this for months. That’s why most Trump controversies come with some sort of walkback: We’ll have mass deportation but we’ll also let the good ones back in, we’ll bar Muslims from entering the U.S. but it’ll be temporary and maybe short-lived. Believe whatever you want. [emphasis added]
I'm reminded of the last truly great Democrat president, Grover Cleveland, who, when he vetoed popular - one might even say populist - military pension bills during his (losing) 1888 re-election campaign and was ripped for it by his own supporters, retorted, "What's the use of getting elected or re-elected if you don't stand for something?" Everybody knew what Ronald Reagan stood for, like it or don't like it, up or down. He never lied about it, pretended he was something he wasn't, flipped, flopped, slithered, equivocated, triangulated, etc. What you saw was what you got. But Trump? Why do you think I draw the Bill Clinton parallel, aside from his "avoiding the clap was my Vietnam" adulterous sexual escapades and hard-left instincts? He lies more than both Clintons put together. He lies weekly, daily, hourly, by the minute, by the second. At the most recent GOP debate in Miami, he shifted on immigration - his supposed signature issue - three times in one evening, almost equaling Hillary Clinton's feat of zigging and zagging on driver's licenses for illegals in New York five times in three minutes and twelve seconds in a late-2007 Democrat debate. I thought this sort of slimy, soulless slipperiness and despicable dishonor was something that erstwhile "Republicans" hated. Or is it now okay if we've got "our own Clinton"?
Michael Brendan Dougherty wonders the same thing:
But over the past few months, there has been a lot of evidence that Trump’s populist-nationalism is disintegrating. In September he released a tax-reform plan that is much beloved by the most anti-nationalist conservative thinkers around. In fact it is the very thing that Beltway creatures like Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth cite when they try to explain their sudden and perplexing support for Donald Trump.
In other words, they're suckers, too.
Trump has also sounded completely out of his depth on immigration, much to the chagrin of his restrictionist fans. In a debate in Detroit, where Trump would supposedly have some of his most nationalist-minded fans, Trump said, “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in.” He described his position on immigration as “softening” and then long-windedly explained why Americans would not take seasonal jobs on some of Trump’s American properties. One of the reasons he offered was the weather. That’s right, the pro-American-worker Trump says that America is just too hot for American workers. Trump also pushed “touchback” amnesty, where illegal [alien]s are granted legal status if they go home and obtain a guest-worker pass from an employer. Suddenly the “big beautiful door” in the Mexican border wall sounds a lot bigger. As Trump has begun to emphasize about immigration, “everything is negotiable.” [emphases added]
Those last three words are the key, folks. If you want to believe that Trump is "the next Reagan," how do you know? If you want to believe that he's the paleo-con of white supremacist wet dreams, how do you know? And how is that a strength for Trump instead of a crippling weakness?
This is the way he's like the "Republican Obama," a blank canvass upon which tighty-righties (which is to say, ex-righties) can project their angry, raging hopes and dreams of revenge and retribution against all the wrong people. I thought this was the sort of mindless, gullible, creepy, unAmerican, personality-cultish wishcasting that erstwhile "Republicans" have lamented for the past decade as authoritarian and dangerous to our (now former) constitutional republic. Or is it okay now that we've got "our own Obama"? Has the Right bought into the sort of divisive, irrational, amoral tribalism the institutionalization on the Left of which is one of his chief legacies? Do we still stand for moral objectivity or do we now only condemn despicability when we're on the receiving end of it?
We always knew what Ronald Reagan stood for: the U.S. Constitution, conservatism, "the shining city on a hill" - or, in other words, the REAL source of American "greatness". What does Donald Trump stand for? Donald Trump. What do Trumplicans stand for? Donald Trump. What have they betrayed? Everything Ronald Reagan ever stood for. This is all so day-glo obvious that the fact that anybody on the Right would ever give Donald Trump any "benefit of the doubt" is equal measures embarrassing, heart-breaking, and disgusting.