I love Jeb Bush and other not-quite-nutbar Republicans wondering if Ronald Reagan would be a member, let alone a welcome one.
Why is the mainstream media even indulging claims like this? Of course Ronnie would be. Why?
1. He lied about Republicans' part in causing deficits.
2. He lied about Democrats' part in causing deficits.
3. He lied about supply side economics and its role in causing deficits.
That's in the sweet spot of modern Republicanism. Within presidential Republicanism, he'd be less smirky than W (funny how Jeb talked about how Poppy, along with Ronnie, might be excluded, but said bupkis about his brother), less paranoid than McCain, and less obviously rich than Romney. But, he'd be just as Republican.
And, I used the word "lied" deliberately. Reagan of 1988 may have been sliding down the memory hole, or maybe not. But, he lied about Iran-Contra in 1987, that was clear. He may have lied to himself about arms for hostages before that, but that was still a lie. He may have lied to himself about supply-side economics, but that was still a lie. He may have lied to himself when confronted with David Stockman's original version of "starve the beast," but it was still a lie.
Hell, Reagan was lying about taxes, including his own tax hikes, when he was governor.
But, you know who I really blame for this attempted "rehabilitation" of Reagan?
Remember how, even before he was elected, Dear Leader talked about how he admired Reagan? It was in part neoliberal pandering of a type worse than Slick Willie Clinton's. But, to some degree, Obama believed it. Whether it was because he wished he were that "smooth," or what all motivated him to talk about admiration, and with little nuance, I don't know. But, if not with Democrats, at least with many independents, his stance left the door open to today's claims that Ronald Reagan might not be a Republican today.
I'm reminded of an old Saturday Night Live skit, late 1980s, where, after the cameras go dark, at a White House dinner, Reagan goes "Mafia enforcement" with a baseball bat on a Cabinet member after a screwup.
Don't fall for his affability.