And here we have in a nutshell the communal tale buzzing through the noggins of some of the most wistful members of the Republican party. In this version, the lovely damsel Bad Sarah is lifted up by the hero Reagan. His kiss anoints her, giving her the power to battle against the Pure Evil of government programs, reproductive rights and high school science classes. A collective sigh of romance and relief rises to the heavens from the GOP as these two clasp hands and walk into the glorious sunset of history - together forever.
Like all good fairy tales, this one is pure fiction. This tale doesn't have enough basis in fact to even be called a legend.
Let's begin with the hero's story. In "Reagan's Liberal Legacy: What the New Literature On the Gipper Won't Tell You" Joshua Green, editor of Washington Monthly, takes on the Reagan myth machine - a cynical enterprise powered up by Republican think tanks just before Reagan's death. It's goals? 1) To manufacture a gauzy "legacy" of Reagan that is politically expedient. 2) To hard sell this "Reagan Brand" of conservatism to disillusioned Republicans and to the next generation of voters, who weren't there and don't know any better.
"A sober review of Reagan's presidency doesn't yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised."
Are conservatives honest about Reagan's real record, even to themselves? Not so much.
"If you believe, as conservatives now do, that raising taxes is always wrong, then it's hard to admit that Reagan himself did so repeatedly. If you argue that the relative tax burden on low-income workers is too light, as the Bush administration does, then it does not pay to dwell on the fact that Reagan himself helped lighten that burden. If you insist, as many hardliners now do, that America is dangerously soft on communist China, then it is best to ignore Reagan's own softening toward the Soviet Union. As with other conservative media efforts--Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Channel, The Washington Times-- the purpose of the Reagan legacy project is not to deliver accuracy, but enhance political leverage."
So how does BS Palin actually fit in here? How exactly can she be "our new Reagan," so fondly, so zealously embraced by the most vocal faction of the Big Red Elephant...?
Reagan - Known as The Great Communicator.
Palin - Not so much.
Reagan - A Two-Term Governor before he ever considered running for President. Years of experience still counted in the '80s.
Palin - Not so much.
Reagan - Was defeated in two attempts at the Republican nomination for President almost 10 years apart, but managed to remain viable as a candidate over a long period of time - 1968 to 1980.
Palin - Not so much.
Reagan - Was a coalition builder, welding together supply-side economists, libertarians, foreign policy hawks, big business and religious conservatives.
Palin - Big business, economists, libertarians, prominent military and high profile Republicans actually fled the Republican party in mutual public horror after the initial shock of Palin's elevation to '08 Vice Presidential candidate really sank in. So again - Not so much.
Reagan - The Teflon President, so named because the media and Reagan had a well known mutual love affair. Reagan could get into sticky situations and emerge unscathed in the press.
Palin - No surprises here - Not so much.
Reagan - Epidemic of scandals erupted around him only after successfully gaining the Presidency.
Palin - All together now - Not So Much!
Reagan - Actively used astrology to time his speeches and appearances.
Palin - So far no record of this. Maybe BS should take a cue from Mr. Reagan here.
Reagan - Called his life partner "Mommy".
Palin - So far no record of this. But for the right donation to SarahPAC, she probably would.
Reagan - A charming and engaging smile - never short on enthusiasm.
Palin - Ah, we found something.
Reagan - "He demonstrated for all to see how far you can go in this life with a smile, a shoeshine, and the nerve to put your own spin on the facts." - David Nyhan, The Boston Globe. "A superficial, disengaged, intellectually-lazy showman who didn't do his homework and clung to a naive, unrealistic, and essentially dangerous worldview. Foreign leaders have said they were appalled by Reagan's lack of knowledge of the issues." Who said this? Some liberal pundit? Nope. This was fellow Republican President Gerald Ford's view of Reagan.
Palin - Yep. And Bingo.
Reagan - Reagan was, in the end, a peacenik. "But no one shared, or even understood until late in the game, Reagan's desire for total disarmament. Hardliners like Patrick Buchanan, Richard Perle, and Caspar Weinberger reacted in horror to the very idea of engaging the Soviets in such talks, warning against the "grand illusion" of peace. "My dream," he later wrote in his memoirs, "became a world free of nuclear weapons." This vision stemmed from the president's belief that the biblical account of Armageddon prophesied nuclear war--and that apocalypse could be averted if everyone, especially the Soviets, eliminated nuclear weapons."
Palin - What? Sarah Palin and savvy Reagan share certain literal interpretations of The Bible? Now we are really getting somewhere!... Except for the peace part, of course. And The Apocalypse part. You see, Bad Sarah's very own church congregation believes wholeheartedly that The Apocalypse is inevitable, not preventable, like Reagan did. Since she was a child Sarah has been taught that Israel will start the End Times rolling by initiating a war in the Mideast. Hence BS continually repeats that she "supports a strong Israel" in her interviews. This phrase is her clarion call to her Evangelical Right wing supporters - the Republican "base" as they are also referred to. Some of this base trains youngsters to partake in "spiritual warfare" on behalf of Jesus, who will "make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire." Some of this base is set on spiritual world domination, through the political process of electing Sarah Palin to high office. She is their biblical Queen Esther, who conveniently was also a beauty queen in her day.
Meanwhile, back at The Apocalypse according to Palin's church...Israel is slaughtering their enemies, who happen to all be "non-believers" (including the Pope). The church members are both killing and converting people, whichever seems best at the moment. At some point in the bloody mess, Christ is cued and finally returns to earth. Literally - in the sky, with angels and chosen believers rising up to be with him. Naturally, the Wasilla Bible Church Congregation are leading all the saved people skyward, who pretty much have to be Republicans (who voted for Palin). And the cymbals will clash, and the war machines will grind to a halt, and the last ruby sunset will be seen on earth as the believers wing their way bodily through the air into the believer's Paradise.
The Jews of Israel, who really should be given a "Get Out Of Hell Free" card for getting the ball rolling and doing a lot of the slaughtering-of-infidel work in this scenario will unfortunately all be killed and dammed to Christian Hell if they don't convert on the spot, along with all the other non-literal-end-time-bible-believers. Basically me and you.
Hear that sound? Is it the orchestra swelling as Palin and Reagan fly off into the End Times sunset together? Or is it just Ronald Reagan spinning like a turbine in his grave?
"Palin = Reagan? Not So Much."
Maybe someday soon all Americans will finally tire of all the Big Red Fairy Tales, and will go back to looking for their American heroes where they've always been and always will be - in good old fashioned cowboy movies, like "Santa Fe Trail."