Ronald Reagan: Clever Guy, But Not the Messiah

by sbh on Tuesday - 12 February 2008

in Uncategorized

Reagan’s Raiders

On Monday afternoons, I drive my dad to rehab (knee surgery rehab, not Amy Winehouse rehab). This amounts to about 75 minutes of total drive time. As the primaries become more and more heated, I begin to crawl further and further out of my 4-year old political shell. Daily I gain interest, and look for interesting tidbits. During my most recent round trip with my dad, I became quite annoyed with conservative talk radio host “Sean Hannity”

It is absolutely nothing new to be annoyed with Sean Hannity. The lefties despise him. The ultra-righties love him. Folks that sit in the middle, like me, don’t really care too much. I am in no way attempting to be “cool” by disparaging Hannity. Rather, I’m interested in the rhetoric that this guy uses, and it just kinda bugged me.

Anyone who has followed the Republican primaries has surely seen each candidate pandering to “the base” by comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. McCain and Romney attempt to erase their “liberal” records with the “I’m in Ronnie’s army” brush, meanwhile, Ron Paul, whom Reagan campaigned with and for, sits idly by watching his ranking on “ifsuck”: climb higher and higher. It’s a little annoying to see these guys cling to the mantle of a leader now 20 years removed from office. But, whatever…they’re presidential candidates, I don’t expect much from them.

Amidst all of this, the conservative talk radio scene has seen a resurgence of Reaganism. Popular hosts like Limbaugh and Hannity have forever carried the Reagan banner — it’s what made Rush “right” and popular oh so long ago. No shockers here. What does shock me is the way that Sean Hannity has adopted the rhetoric of evangelical Christianity when speaking of the 40th president.

Coming back from commercial yesterday, Hannity started talking about the “Heritage Foundation”:, a conservative thinktank devoted to the principles of Reaganism. That’s all well, and good. Hannity talks about how you can go to the website and discover answers to the timeless question: “What would Reagan do?” Or, you can listen to audio, or watch video, and “discover what this great president has to teach us.”

Obviously, the “What would Reagan do?” idea is a rip off of the “WWJD” craze of the 90s. That’s fine. It’s funny, a bit cheeky. Clever. I like it. Then, however, to speak of what this guy has “to teach us” sounds like it’s coming straight from the pulpit on Sunday morning, talking about the living God. You could easily substitute “this great president” with “our Lord and Savior” so that Hannity’s phrase would have been: “discover what our Lord and Savior has to teach us.” This is Sunday morning stuff here.

Beyond this, the Heritage Foundation will mail you a free copy of the -New Testament- U.S. Constitution if you want them to.

The only conclusion that I can make is this: Those who profess Ronald Reagan to be the political savior of this country have adopted the tactics and rhetoric of the Christian Right to sell/market their ideology.

I will be the first to admit that I am not some super-savvy pundit. I’m no James Carville or whoever the flavor-of-the-month-political-genius-of-the-moment is right now. I’m just a Christian dude from the southwest who occasionally pays attention. I can list the things I like about Ronald Reagan:

* We share a love for “Jelly Belly”
* “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” — that’s cool…
* “I will not use my opponent’s youth and inexperience against him…” — also cool…
* I’m down with the idea that tax cuts stimulate economic growth for many sectors of the economy.

Outside of these things, I don’t know a whole lot about the guy that was in office when I was born (1981). Seems to me that he’s a clever, charismatic fellow. But Messiah/Christ he is not.

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