Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Let them have Reagan, just so long as we can bring down Bush

The narrative of the moment is, of course, that Reagan was an immensely popular president who cut taxes, boosted the economy and stared down the Ruskies until they said uncle.

Of course, much of that is myth. But our modern media is much better suited to dispense myth then it is to educate the public about what really happened (witness the number of people who still think that Saddam Hussein had a part in 9/11). And trying to dispel those myths is an exhausting task. So maybe we should think about our response a little more carefully.

Now, we shouldn't hold back from dispelling the myths when the opportunity presents itself. But there are times in a fight when you have to acknowledge an advantage to an opponent and work around it instead of fighting it head on. Why should we do so now? Because the more time we spend trying to debunk the myth of Reagan the less time we have to spend debunking the myth of Bush. Last time I checked, the former is no longer qualified to hold office while the latter remains an imminent danger to our Republic.

Michael over on Southpaw makes the point that in many martial arts disciplines you should use the force of your opponent against them. In other words, we should use the myth of Reagan to deflate the myth of Bush. He points to the latest column from Paul Krugman as an example of how to do this. Krugman points out that Reagan had the insight to consider compromise in the face of harsh reality while Bush only offers stubbornness. The "steely resolve" of Reagan did not get in the way of him adjusting his course when necessary. Bush suffers by comparison.

Now, I can understand if some might find it distasteful to actually talk about Reagan in a positive way. But, if by doing so, you can keep Bush from being re-elected, wouldn't it be worth the pain and suffering? Perhaps we should just let the Republicans have their myth (for now). We've got more pressing battles before us.


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