Saturday, February 5, 2011

Midnight in America?

ONCE upon a time, President Ronald Reagan declared to the nation that it was "Morning in America" again.

Not anymore.

The nation is imperiled with mushrooming debt. Government spending is spiraling out of control. "We were just told that the era of big government is here to stay and you’re going to pay for it whether you want to or not,” said the animated lady in red. "Today ... there’s a fear in the air.” America, she proclaimed, is on the "road to ruin." It's Midnight in America.

To borrow a Donald Rumsfeld-ism: Oh my goodness gracious. I had no idea that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse had been loosened upon the heartland. You better cling to your guns even harder. That's essentially the message Sarah Palin delivered yesterday at a conservative gathering to celebrate the Reagan centennial. Be afraid, she implied relentlessly. Be very afraid.

Former President Reagan is no hero of mine and I could easily fill a book with criticisms of his presidency. But I admired his infectious optimism and, as Reagan biographer Lou Canon wrote, his "ability to dazzle people with his common wisdom." Despite her ludicrous (even insulting) pretense at being his political heir, Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan.

Reagan admirer Roy Billings sat near the front row to hear Palin's speech. Afterward, Billings told the New York Times that while he liked her he hoped she wouldn't run for president. “Maybe she’s got potential to be the president someday, but not now," he said. "There’s too many people who don’t relate to her.” I bet Reagan would be one of those people. In fact, I suspect the Gipper is spinning in his grave.

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