What Obama Actually Said About Reagan to George Stephanopoulos today
Obama "explains" his Reagan quote (video) by — wait for it — ratifying Republican framing:
He leads off:
Well, I think that, keep in mind Ronald Reagan came in during the 1980s, at a time when, I think, Democrats still dominated Congress, when the view was that we were going to solve our problems, oftentimes, by expanding government programs, and he challenged many of those ideas.
He proceeds to criticize Reagan's policies and then says:
When Bill Clinton said "the era of small government is over," he was echoing some of the shifts that had taken place.
Let's assume that Obama merely misspoke and meant to say "big government," which is the correct quote. It would be unthinkable that someone besides the Clintons would indulge in skullduggery. So, seriously, let's give him a pass on misquoting the Big Dog into a perfect rightwing talking point.
Let's focus, instead, on how Obama might have framed Reaganism:
- "Ronald Reagan ran on a platform of thinly veiled racism."
- "Ronald Reagan ushered in an era that demonized the poor and venerated jingoistic, authoritarian power."
- "Ronald Reagan created the illusion of small government, while actually replacing services for the neediest with 'welfare' for the wealthiest and best-connected."
- "Ronald Reagan represented a disastrous 'triumph' of image over substance."
- "Ronald Reagan brought or returned to power the corrupt, incompetent cronies whose fingerprints are all over our shredded Constitution."
- "Ronald Reagan ran on a campaign of national security and then proceeded to illegally sell arms to our sworn enemy."
None of those, or zillions of other possible variations, would do. Because they wouldn't put the blame for our country's problems on the likes of Jimmy Carter, where they belong.