Which Reagan?

| Sat Feb. 14, 2009 4:29 PM EST
WHICH REAGAN?....Conservatives want Barack Obama to act more like Ronald Reagan.  Fred Kaplan asks, which one?

In his first term, from 1981-85, Reagan escalated East-West tensions, spoke in bellicose rhetoric, and jacked up military spending to 30-year highs. This is the Reagan whom Republican chieftains worship and insist that all subsequent presidents emulate. But in his second term, which coincided with Gorbachev's rise to power, Reagan flipped, making dramatic diplomatic overtures to Moscow and accepting equally dramatic proposals in turn.

Few remember, but many of the Republicans who now tout Reagan's accomplishments pummeled him at the time for "betraying" his followers and their Cold War ideology.

....When Republicans tell Obama to act more like Ronald Reagan, a suitable response might be: "Which one?"

Do I get a vote? How about neither? George Bush has just spent the past eight years pretending to be the first-term Reagan, so we hardly need a repeat of that. And the second-term Reagan was a clueless naif. I could do without that too. How about if we just let Obama be Obama instead?
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