Reagan Was Mocked and Underestimated, Too, by Pat Buchanan.
What brings the moment back is Laura Ingraham’s new book: “Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump.” Thesis: Donald Trump is a conservative populist and direct descendant and rightful heir to Ronald Reagan.
To never-Trumpers this is pure blasphemy. Yet the similarities are there.
Both men were outsiders, and neither a career politician. Raised Democratic, Reagan had been a Hollywood actor, union leader and voice of GE, before running for governor of California.
Trump is out of Queens, a builder-businessman in a Democratic city whose Republican credentials were suspect at best when he rode down that elevator at Trump Tower. Both took on the Republican establishment of their day, and humiliated it. …
Among the signature issues of Trumpian populism is economic nationalism, a new trade policy designed to prosper Americans first.
Reagan preached free trade, but when Harley-Davidson was in danger of going under because of Japanese dumping of big bikes, he slammed a 50 percent tariff on Japanese motorcycles. Though a free trader by philosophy, Reagan was at heart an economic patriot.
He accepted an amnesty written by Congress for 3 million people in the country illegally, but Reagan also warned prophetically that a country that can’t control its borders isn’t really a country any more. …
Both also believed in cutting tax rates to stimulate the economy and balance the federal budget through rising revenues rather than cutting programs like Medicare and Social Security. …
And both were regarded in this capital city with a cosmopolitan condescension bordering on contempt. “An amiable dunce” said a Great Society Democrat of Reagan.
The awesome victories Reagan rolled up, a 44-state landslide in 1980 and a 49-state landslide in 1984, induced some second thoughts among Beltway elites about whether they truly spoke for America. Trump’s sweep of the primaries and startling triumph in the Electoral College caused the same consternation. …
The differences between Trump in his first year and Reagan in 1981 are stark. Reagan had won a landslide. The attempt on his life in April and the grace with which he conducted himself had earned him a place in the hearts of his countrymen. He not only showed spine in giving the air traffic controllers 48 hours to get back to work, and then discharging them when they defied him, he enacted the largest tax cut in U.S. history with the aid of boll weevil Democrats in the House.
Coming up on one year since his election, Trump is besieged by a hostile press and united Democratic Party. This city hates him. While his executive actions are impressive, his legislative accomplishments are not. His approval ratings have lingered in the mid-30s. He has lost half a dozen senior members of his original White House staff, clashed openly with his own Cabinet and is at war with GOP leaders on the Hill.
hat-tip Stephen Neil