Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Best Republican President

Yesterday, six men you never heard of were invited to have an audience with Grover Norquist and debate among themselves the question: who should lead the RNC? Each man advocated on his own behalf.

(One might ask the question why not one of the men failed to get up, walk to the podium and punch Grover in the nose. Is there anyone as useless to this party now as Norquist? He was arguably the most important figure in bringing the ruling coalition to Washington that Americans now despise. But no, the six men were so obsequious that I expected them to jump up and, instead of punching him, kiss his pinky ring. That's a party on the move, I tell ya.)

One of Norquist's questions was: "Who is your favorite Republican President?" It wasn't actually a query but a litmus test. After each had dutifully answered "Reagan," Norquist praised them as having gotten the right answer. The take-away was obvious: this is no time to abandon orthodoxy. The ship of the Republican Party must hold the line, stay the course, mouth the old bromides. Change is for that other guy; stolid knuckling under to geniuses like Grover Norquist is for the Republican Party. Aye aye, cappin.

The allegiance to the Reagan Way is weird not least because it's such a wholesale failure (did any of these men happen to notice what has happened to the Reagan-devised, Bush-deregulated economy?), but because there are actually a few decent Republicans to cite. Beholding the two black men on the stage, I was unable to avoid thinking of Abraham Lincoln--not a bad go-to guy on the "best president" question. I mean, how could you miss it?

Of twelve polls conducted of historians since 1948, Lincoln was identified as the best US president by half. Teddy Roosevelt's a top-five President, and surely a top-three Republican. Ike is in the top ten, but no one really likes Ike all that much. Reagan's rep has really sky-rocketed of late, and he's lately been a top-ten president himself. But he's still trailing TR and Lincoln. But still, six men, six Reagans. They know from where the scepter of power doth bestow might.

Norquist didn't ask the men who their second-favorite president was, but I suspect at least one of them, fairly bowing and scraping, would have gone with Dubya. Anything to grab at the wheel of power--even if it was on the bow of the Titanic. Keep steering, boys, you're headed in the rigt direction!

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