After last Wednesday's Milwaukee GOP debate, political pundits unexpectedly/surprisingly rallied behind former Vice President Mike Pence, who repeatedly invoked Ronald Reagan's name on the stage and has done so on the campaign trail.
At issue was an exchange between Pence and the star performer of the night, Vivek Ramaswamy, who had earlier called for a generational revolution akin to America's founding in 1776 to solve the country's problems.
"We're not looking for a new national identity," Pence intoned. "The American people are the most faith-filled, freedom-loving, idealistic, hard-working people the world has ever known."
Ramaswamy knew this line of attack was coming and appeared prepared. "It is not morning in America. We live in a dark moment. And we have to confront the fact that we're in an internal sort of cold, cultural civil war."
Alarmed by Ramaswamy's debate performance and overflowing crowds at stops in Iowa afterward, corporate media outlets launched a well-practiced campaign to bring down the new candidate. The press had eight years of knife-sharpening experience to politically isolate former President Trump, so a rookie in Trump's mold would be no problem.
The New York Times led the charge:
Extolling Ronald Reagan used to be the safest of safe spaces for an ambitious Republican. Yet here was an upstart candidate, with no record of public service, standing at center stage in a GOP debate and invoking Mr. Reagan's famous 1984 "Morning in America" theme not as an applause line but to mock one of the party's staunchest conservatives — an original product of the Reagan revolution — as out of touch with America's true condition.
The Washington Examiner’s editorial board went further, stating,
While Ramaswamy is currently running third on the polls behind Trump and DeSantis, his flip-flopping on matters, his shallow, glib approach to serious and demanding policy questions, and his refusal to support strong allies, such as Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, are disqualifying. He should be a nonstarter.
These characterizations were rather lame. The GOP has veered so far left from the days of Reagan that, as we mentioned in our post-debate analysis, it is indistinguishable from the Democratic Party. Five GOP contenders - Pence, Hutchinson, Christie, Haley, and Scott - have lived off and expanded the public purse for years.
President Reagan ran and governed on the principle that governments are the problem, not the solution. While Reagan engaged in deficit spending to counter the Soviet threat, total United States debt went up by about $1.6 trillion to $2.3 trillion at the end of his second term. Today, the federal debt is nearly 15 times that amount. Both parties are responsible for this run-up in deficit spending, including VP Pence, under whose watch the national debt went up $6.3 trillion in just four years. True, some of this spending was to fight a once-in-a-millennium pandemic. Any excess spending might have contributed to inflation. Pence may claim to be a conservative in the Reagan mold, but spending four times as much in half the time (in non-inflated dollars) is not exactly a modicum of responsibility.
In contrast, it was Ramaswamy who was Reaganesque, promising to cut the administrative state by eliminating the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Education Department. We would have preferred that he promised to streamline these agencies and cut their staff by some percentage - and not eliminate crucial functions of the FBI and IRS - but at least he was on point that the government had become too large.
Pence's optimism that everything is fine in America does not jell with public polling. Our exclusive TIPP poll on the country's unity index found that an overwhelming 80% of Americans say the country is divided, with only 20% believing the nation is united. Bidenflation in July was at 16% - we calculated that one needs $1,000 in earnings today to buy what $862 could buy when Biden took office. Most average voters disagree that the Biden policies are turning the economy around, according to our July I&I/TIPP Poll. In an earlier survey, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) expressed dissatisfaction with the country's direction. Pence put himself in the undesirable position of virtually supporting Biden's vision and performance to distance himself from an upstart.
Invoking Reagan to draw similarities between America's fight with the Soviet Union and the present-day Russia-Ukraine war is utterly dishonest. Reagan saw that the communist threat was proving imperial when the USSR invaded Afghanistan, befriended countries in Africa and the Middle East, and developed strong relationships with dozens of countries. Reagan correctly deduced that the peace-through-strength doctrine would leave the USSR scrambling as it could no longer afford to spend billions on its weapons industry when its citizens stood in bread lines. Thanks to Reagan's brilliance, Glasnost and Perestroika ended nearly 45 years of East-West tensions when the Berlin Wall collapsed without a shot fired.
Reagan always urged us to trust the Soviets but verify. He met President Gorbachev five times in just eight years. Contrast this to current Washington thinking, which Pence favors, which forbids all discussion with the Russians, even at lower levels. Pence has a single mantra for the war, which is almost childish in its simplicity. Russia attacked Ukraine, a free country, and took territory in a blatant act, so America should support Ukraine even if 11 million people are displaced and 500,000 are killed. Pence's assertions would have made some sense if Russia's attack was genuinely unprovoked. Russia never attacked when Pence was VP because America under Trump did not provoke Russia; rather than claim credit for it, Pence has gone all Washington-woke.
Ramaswamy spotted these inconsistencies and pounced on Pence. “I have a news flash,” he told Mr. Pence. “The U.S.S.R. does not exist anymore. It fell back in 1990.”
President Reagan would not have believed how far America has fallen under uniparty governance. China has the world's largest standing defense forces. Russia has a more extensive nuclear arsenal than America. India just landed on the moon's south pole, a feat that even America has not achieved. The BRICS countries have invited six countries to join the bloc and counter the West: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. America's inflation continues to rage.
We agree with Ramaswamy: It is not morning in America.
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