A Contrast, Not a Comparison

A new theme being promoted by some in the media and, implicitly, by the Obama administration itself, is the similarity between the current occupant of the people’s White House and Ronald Reagan. Time magazine was up front with the linkage this week on its cover:

Well, I would like to do a comparison myself. Let’s start with the economy.

Both Reagan and Obama inherited a mess. Reagan’s solution was to reduce the tax burden on citizens and cut back on regulations. Obama rushed through a stimulus package. Reagan’s approach allowed individuals and companies to use more of their own money and not worry as much about government interference. Obama’s approach was government-to-the-rescue: bailouts that began in the final months of the Bush administration became standard; certain companies were taken over by the government.

Two years into Reagan’s first term, things began to turn around. It took a while simply because his budget, with the first of the tax cuts, didn’t even go into effect until October 1981, nine months after he took office. We are two years into Obama’s tenure and even though the stock market has rallied some, our long-term prospects are not bright—unemployment shows little sign of abating and our $14 trillion debt is threatening our financial viability as a nation.

No matter how much Obama might want to appear Reaganesque on the economic front, there is a more valid comparison:

Then there’s healthcare. Reagan, long before he became an active candidate for any office, recorded a speech against socialized medicine, pointing out its anti-free market, anti-American [historically] nature. He also recognized that any scheme that would put government in charge of healthcare would be far beyond any authority granted in the Constitution.

Obama, by contrast, never even attempted to base his desire for a national healthcare plan on constitutional authority. He is good at declaring that he loves the Constitution, but not so good at following it. When federal judges ruled against the bill, saying it was blatantly unconstitutional, the Obama administration actually had the nerve to say that those judges were perpetrators of “judicial activism.” That’s almost hilarious. Judges who try to rein in unconstitutional measures by appealing to the document itself are judicial activists? That gives logic a whole new definition.

Then there’s the issue of national security and dealing with external threats. Reagan’s war against totalitarian communism began more than three decades before he took the oath of office. He saw the dangers early in his career and spoke out forcefully. When he had the opportunity as president, he crafted a policy that deliberately led to the undermining of the Soviet Union. In the memorable words of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired.”

Today’s major threat is from radical Islam. While Obama has continued to send troops to Afghanistan, there has been no all-out war against terror on his watch. That would be particularly difficult for him as he has an affinity for Islam himself. Note that I did not say he is a Muslim, but he certainly has sympathies for the religion that has spawned the radical terrorists. He apparently has no qualms about the Muslim Brotherhood having a “place at the table” in whatever new Egyptian government emerges from the present crisis. Yet that organization is the parent of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Does he even recognize the problem here?

So while Obama may want to present himself as a latter-day Reagan, any sound analysis of their different philosophies and policies will show there is more of a contrast than a comparison.

Those are really huge boots to fill. President Obama doesn’t even come close to filling them.