America needs Ronald Reagan today. That’s not a melancholy statement longing for the past. It’s actually a reminder that principled conservatism – including low taxes, less regulation and free trade – works best, and our economy and our nation need to get back to those principles.
But according to an April 25 Associated Press story, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who served as Reagan’s chief political adviser and liaison to state and local officials form 1985 to 1987, has gotten himself into hot water over remarks about moving away from the Gipper.
In a speech to the Fund for American Studies, Daniels reportedly said: “I hope very much not to be misunderstood. I think it is time to let Ronald Reagan go. Not from our reverent memory, of course. Not ever, but as our touchstone, as our icon, as our hallmark and our reference point.”
The backlash from the conservative community was immediate. For example, AP noted Rush Limbaugh’s response: “Have you ever heard a Democrat say, 'We need to get over John Kennedy or FDR?' Have you ever heard a Democrat go to the microphone at a liberal conference and say, 'You know what? We gotta move past FDR. We gotta leave the past behind.' Hey, Mitch? Governor? Governor Daniels? Should we get over Lincoln, too? He's in the past. We just gotta get over Lincoln. This is so contrary to conservative thought.”
Daniels later, of course, issued a clarifying statement:
“I served him for years, and no one reveres Ronald Reagan more than I. My caution was that his present-day admirers must not appear to be stuck in the past, but always face forward, and apply the eternal principles of individual liberty to the problems of today and tomorrow. No one taught this lesson better than President Reagan himself.”
Hmmm, that seems to be quite different from Daniels’ original declaration. Doesn’t it?