President Ronald Reagan was unlike any president who preceded him in the 20thcentury, save perhaps Calvin Coolidge. A blend of optimism, a belief in people (instead of in government), and the conviction that “American Exceptionalism” was worth fighting for, Reagan stands out as a president who led where others had merely followed.
Gutsy in so many ways — the same Reagan who called communism a “form of insanity” and who declared economic war on the Soviet Union also handled his political opponents with vigor. Who can forget his actions at the Republican Candidates Forum in New Hampshire on February 23, 1980? When the moderator sought to have Reagan’s microphone turned off as a means of controlling the would-be candidate, Reagan grabbed the microphone and said: “I am paying for this microphone.” The crowd erupted in applause, and for the other candidates on the stage, the writing was on the wall.
He would come to be known for his one liners, and his ability to use them to disarm (if not dismantle) his political opposition. And on Monday, April 16th, as I watched Gov. Mitt Romney field questions from ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, I couldn’t help but notice how he brings this trait to the table as well. For instance, when she asked Romney if had anything he’d like to say to President Obama, he smiled and said, “Start packing.” Romney’s timing and delivery were so perfect that my mind was taken back to 1980, when Reagan said: “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
And the beautiful thing is that Romney had more to say. For example, he also told Sawyer he wants the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, and send the issue back to the states. And the next day, in an interview with Breitbart News’ Larry O’Connor, he highlighted the importance of “economic freedom,” which he described as “free people, pursuing their dreams, starting various forms of business, [and] hiring one another.” He then pointedly said the Obama administration has “waged a battle against economic freedom” throughout Obama’s time in office.
On Tuesday, Romney’s foreign policy advisor alluded to a distinction between the way Obama has approached Iran, China, and Russia versus the way Romney will:
The world is better off when the United States takes the lead. We should not be playing `Mother, may I?’ about sanctions on Iran and relations with China and Russia.
(Remember, it was Romney who, two weeks ago, labeled Russia our “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” And although doing so caused an uproar, but he did not recant.)
I am not saying that Romney is the next Reagan. But I am saying these things are gusty in a Ronald Reagan kind of way: and quite reminiscent of “peace through strength” too.