Which 2016 Republican Is The Best Reagan At Reaganing Like Reagan?
'He was our last hope.' 'No. There is another'
Ever since Ronald Reagan's vice president (George H.W. Bush) stamped his dainty deck loafers and declared that he was every bit as manly as Walter Mondale -- exact quote*: “Well, on the manhood thing, I’ll put mine up against his any time” -- Republican candidates have all tried to present themselves as the "next Reagan." Thank dear Crom above, they have also all failed to build the cult of personality the Gipper achieved. George W. Bush probably did as much as Reagan to turn the country's economy and politics over to the One Percent, but no one is ever going to make a desktop wallpaper of Dubya beaming down from heaven on America:
Or at least they won't mean it.
But who, of all the cheap knockoffs crowding the debate stage at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley tonight, is truly worthy of the term "Reaganesque"? It is with great humility and trepidation that Yr Wonkette attempts to rate the candidates' Reaganosity. We should note that this task has fallen to Yr Dok Zoom, since of the Wonket staff not currently God-knows-where in a Wonkebago, he is the only one old enough to have been Of Age when the Gipper was in office. Or as Kaili put it when we delicately inquired if she was assigning this to us because we remember Reagan or because she suspects we also have Alzheimer's, "Nah dude, because your memories of Reagan are probably slightly more detailed than mine. Which is basically waking up the day after the 1984 election and asking my parents who won and them laughing pitifully at me." And so, without further ado, a brief rundown of the candidates and their Reaganesqueositishnous:
Reaganesque: Widely considered a joke, but refuses to go away. Likes to remind people that he paid for things. Weird hair of questionable terrestrial origin. Given to empty displays of flag-waving, nativism, invocations of God. Doesn't give a rip about mere facts. Once an idea gets stuck in his head, never drops it. Could joke about the bombing starting in five minutes and make you wonder if he's really joking.
Not Reaganesque: Not your lovable grampa. Much more fond of walls, the bigger the better. Will never be called "The Great Communicator." For all his "outsider" appeal, has never actually held office or "acted like General Franco when he acted like Governor of California." Appeals to brainless spite instead of brainless optimism. In 1980 and 1984, donated to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, not to Reagan.
Uber-Reaganesque: Has a photo of himself shaking hands with Reagan, signed by the Gipper himself as "Nancy and Reagan Reagan." Reagan Library staff said the president must have been in a hurry.
Reaganesque: Political outsider, "folksy," brain surgeon. Like the Gipper, a former Democrat who became a Republican after listening to Ronald Reagan. Better at his original occupation than foreign or domestic policy. Makes audible grinding noises when asked difficult questions.
Not Reaganesque: Was at one time a figure of inspiration to the black middle class. Hasn't ridden a horse onscreen or off. Far better at serving as arbitrary "See, we're not racist" emblem for conservatives.
Reaganesque: Former governor who did a crappy job. Bipedal. Surrounded by members of the GHW Bush administration.
Not Reaganesque: Can say things in Spanish without note cards. Unlike Jeb, Reagan never gave a crap about whether Poppy Bush approved of him.
Reaganesque: Would love to fire all the unions. Really dislikes unions. Thinks unions are bad. Knows Ronald Reagan's birthday by heart. Hates unions. Easily distracted by shiny objects and bits of string.
Not Reaganesque: A bit short on the movie-star good looks. Has probably said the name "Ronald Reagan" more than Ronald Reagan ever did.
Reaganesque: Unwavering certainty that he is right, regardless of what the facts are. Starred in a movie with a chimp .
Not Reaganesque: Despite their political differences, Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill worked together to reach bipartisan compromises. Cruz can't manage simple civility toward the Speaker of the House, despite being in the same party.
Reaganesque: Says crazy shit with little regard for how it will sound. Happy to ignore details of how the Constitution works. Thinks he liberated the concentration camps in WW II. Talks endlessly about God.
Not Reaganesque: Has actually been seen inside a church.
Reaganesque: More inexplicable hair. Certain that capitalism can solve everything through the magic of the market, regardless of damage to people, the environment, or the infrastructure.
Not Reaganesque: Probably wouldn't invade Grenada.
Reaganesque: Insists that America should be run like a business; can deliver reasonably good one-liners in debates. Sold stuff to Iran when it was illegal.
Not Reaganesque: Knows nothing of the life of a cowboy on the open range.
Reaganesque: Adept at looking you straight in the eye and lying, because he really believes it. Fairly good at glib, off-the-cuff remarks that avoid the question.
Not Reaganesque: Rachel Maddow has never called Reagan her pretend boyfriend.
There are a few other candidates we didn't get to, because sweet Jesus, nobody in their right mind tries to cover all those wieners. Feel free to add your comparisons and rank the candidates' Reaganosity in the comments, which we do not allow.
*A big THANK YOU to the Molly Ivins collection we've been listening to in the car for reminding us of that gem.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.