The Corner

Re: Going Negative

I always remembered a small item from the Weekly Standard (March 4, 1996) about Reagan. Rather than paraphrase it, or deny them credit, here it is entirely from Nexis:

The recent passing of former California governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown brought back a flood of political memories. Journalist David S. Broder hailed him as “one of the true blithe spirits of 20th-century politics,” “a visionary, ” and “the most amiable of companions.” Remarked a former Brown press secretary, “It used to drive me crazy that Pat had no mean streak.”

Forgotten in all the gush was the fact that Brown ran one of the most despicable television ads in history — against Ronald Reagan, in the 1966 gubernatorial race. The ad carried the title “Man versus Actor” and concluded with Brown’s admonishing a group of balck school-children, “Remember: It was an actor who shot Lincoln.” Today, we might refer to this as “hate speech.”

Regan responded as only Reagan could: “Oh,” he said, “Pat wouldn’t say anything like that.” Talk about a blithe spirit.

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