There is serious disagreement over the legacy of Ronald Reagan, with the more left seeing him (still) as America’s most important turn in the wrong direction, and the center and ‘just over the line’ center right increasingly claiming Reagan as their own and so much different from the far right of today.
The key word is ‘sunny,’ as in, President Reagan had a sunny conservatism, as opposed to the scowling, intolerant swill that passes for conservative thought on much of the right today.
Setting aside that argument for another time, I call attention to Peggy Noonan’s new column. Noonan is a deeply romantic writer, given to big themes and history being shaped by remarkable men, of which President Reagan is first and foremost. Which is to say, take it with a grain of salt.
That said, I think she makes a useful distinction between conservatism then and now. If (and I wasn’t there) she glosses the facts, she gets the hopes right:
He (Reagan) cared about reality, about the facts of the world, and bothered to know them. He bothered to think about them. He respected process, or rather respected the reality of it and learned to master it.
Movements based on resentment, anger and public rage always fade, they rise and fall, they never stay. If you came to play, get serious.
You get the point. For what it’s worth, the point of the column is to laud Chris Christie, New Jersey’s plain spoken governor. I disagree with Christie about spending at the federal level, but like Noonan, I’m struck by his ability to say hard things in a non-confrontational way. Read the entire piece here.
(Off topic: let me freely confess to admiring Noonan ever since her first book came out. She wrote eloquently about the Reagan revolution and even better about the nature of writing, and in particular the craft of speech writing. She continues to be a voice of comity from the conservative side.)