Third Way Perspectives

Subscribe via RSS

Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’

‘Back to the Future’ Foreign Policy

April 11th, 2014

by and

The 1980s are all the rage once again—from neon clothes to Robocop and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even America’s 1980s foreign policy is back in fashion amongst Neo-Cold Warriors longing to return to the Reagan era.

President Barack Obama quipped to Mitt Romney during the 2012 election that, “The 1980s called—they want their foreign policy back,” and he’s giving the military more money, even adjusted for inflation, than President Ronald Reagan ever did. But, the Neo-Cold Warriors still can’t abandon their Reagan nostalgia, especially after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, which has led some to ask “Was Mitt Romney right about Russia?”

Obama’s military outspends Russian President Vladimir Putin’s by more than seven to one. Yet, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.,) rails against the president because, “For decades, defense spending made up roughly 50 percent of the federal budget. Today, it’s just 18 percent.” While ignoring the fact that defense spending hasn’t made up more than 50 percent of the federal budget since we put a man on the moon, Ryan is also concerned about the decline in defense spending as a percentage of GDP. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., similarly bemoans the fact that America’s defense spending falls short of the 6% percent of GDP it was under Reagan, and The Wall Street Journal claims that by this metric Obama will leave his successor a “weaker” country than he inherited.

Whether or not you think the current level of spending is sufficient, defense spending as a share of GDP measures militarization of our society, but that does not necessarily mean strength.  Applying Reagan’s magic percentage today ignores changes in our economy, the threat environment and our capabilities.

Read the rest of this entry »

2012 is not 1976

February 3rd, 2012

by

This piece originally appeared in Politico.

Newt Gingrich thinks he’s Ronald Reagan and 2012 is 1976.

In 1976, Reagan ran a tough, scrappy primary campaign. It was a conservative insurgency against President Ford, the titular, but unelected, leader of the Republican Party. Reagan never gave up, even after he lost Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois. South Carolina did not have a Republican primary in 1976. Reagan came back to life by winning North Carolina in late March. He then started winning the late Southern and Western primaries. It was not enough to defeat Ford, but Reagan went all the way to the Republican convention.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama: Politics vs. diplomacy

February 7th, 2011

by

This piece was originally published in Politico.

Diplomacy is subtle. Politics is not.

President Barack Obama is under pressure right now to pursue a subtle, delicately nuanced diplomacy in trying to influence the course of events in Egypt. That can be politically hazardous.

Read the rest of this entry »

To keep the 2010 midterms from repeating 1994, Democrats can learn from Reagan

September 20th, 2010

by

This piece was originally published in The Washington Post.

“We are going to lose the House and the Senate.”

Those were the opening words of a memo that I faxed to my then-boss, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on Labor Day in 1994. Schumer was still in the House, I was his legislative director, and my prediction was based on one overarching idea: The Democratic Party had lost its way. Our national agenda had been hijacked by the parochial agendas of aggrieved special interest groups. And as a result, we were badly misfiring with the middle class.

Read the rest of this entry »

High-minded Obama lacks fear factor

February 23rd, 2010

by

This piece was originally published in Politico.

Why does President Barack Obama strike so many voters as an elitist?  Because he is, by style and temperament, an “NPR Democrat.” He’s smart, cool and rational — “All Things Considered.” Conservatives do not consider all things. They consider only what they damn well want to consider. Sarah Palin got off a zinger when she told the tea party convention, “We need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at a lectern.”

Ouch.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Populist Eruption In Massachusetts?

January 15th, 2010

by

This piece was originally published in National Journal.

Imagine this OMG moment for Democrats: a Massachusetts Republican wins Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat.

What an upset that would be. It’s JFK’s old seat, for goodness sake. After JFK won the presidency in 1960, the seat was occupied for two years by his former Harvard roommate until Edward Kennedy was old enough to run. He won the seat in 1962 and held it for 47 years. Massachusetts has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972. Right now, the state’s congressional delegation does not include a single Republican.

Read the rest of this entry »