How Far Right Has The GOP Gone?

Ken AshfordHistory, RepublicansLeave a Comment

Too far, says… wait for it… Jeb Bush.

The former Florida governor praised President Obama on education policy, hot on the heels of Romney delivering a speech condemning Obama's education policy. Bush also said his party is being "short-sighted" on tax and immigration policies, which is not what the GOP mainstream wants to hear.

This morning, Jeb Bush went further, endorsing Obama's line about economic "headwinds" from Europe, and agreeing with Obama's recent argument that both Ronald Reagan and his father George H. W. Bush would have a hard time getting nominated by today's Republican Party.

"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don't — as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, adding that he views the hyper-partisan moment as "temporary."

"Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time — they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," he said. Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."

Jeb's not the only one suggesting that Reagan would be given a hard time by the current-day Republican party.  Just a few weeks ago, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said Reagan "would be stunned by the party today," adding that there were similar divisions in the early 1950s between Eisenhower Republicans and GOP extremists like Joe McCarthy, but the difference is, in 2012, "the extremists are winning."

In April, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) said the same thing. What's more, Mike Huckabee said a year ago, "Ronald Reagan would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time being nominated in this atmosphere of the Republican Party." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had a nearly identical take in 2010, arguing Reagan "would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today."

It's not surprising that presdent-day Republicans would despise Reagan.  Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and he supported the precursor to the Buffett Rule. In his first term, Reagan raised taxes when unemployment was nearing 11% — imagine trying this today — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. It's a fact the right finds terribly inconvenient, but "no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people" as Reagan.

Reagan gave amnesty to undocumented immigrants, expanded the size of the federal government, tripled the deficit and added trillions to the debt, bailed out domestic industries, and called for a world without nuclear weapons. Reagan also met with our most hated enemy without preconditions, criticized Israel, and illegally funneled arms to Iran.

And then there's his gubernatorial record: in California, Reagan increased spending, raised taxes, helped create the nation's first state-based emissions standards, signed an abortion-rights bill, and expanded the nation's largest state-based Medicaid program (socialized medicine).

Reagan "could not get through a Republican primary today"? Reagan could not get through a Republican primary without being laughed off the stage today.