Magazine July 6, 2009, Issue

Misremembering Reagan

Former president Ronald Reagan speaks at the opening of his library in Simi, Calif., 1991. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)
The Gipper still has lessons to teach -- just not the ones we usually hear

‘Republicans have attempted to lead with one eye on the rear-view mirror, gazing at the fading reflection of Ronald Reagan. . . . But Ronald Reagan cannot win the victory for Republicans in [the next election], and the party had best get busy finding fresh ideas and new leaders.” Ralph Reed wrote those words after the Republicans lost the election — the election of 1998.

Since then, Reagan’s reflection has faded still more. Yet the tendency Reed lamented has only gotten stronger. Reagan’s death, the reevaluation of his presidency by historians (including liberal historians), and, above all, the political failure of

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Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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