The media are trying to cast President Obama in the mold of Ronald Reagan. Now even Obama is apparently believing it.
In relating an anecdote recently about which tie he chose to wear at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama described how he borrowed the tie of soon-to-be Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "But eventually he was willing to take one for the Gipper, and so he took off his tie, and I put it on. And that's the tie that I wore at the national convention."
So now Obama is "the Gipper" -- the nickname Reagan absorbed from one of his 1940s movie roles?
There's a new narrative in town.
Remember when Obama was first elected? To hear the media spin it then, Obama supposedly was channeling Franklin Delano Roosevelt in terms of policy, vision and general presidential stature. Sympatheitc journalists ached to fashion Obama into the next New Deal-making FDR to save America.
Only problem was, it didn't stick. His will to spend clashed with the need for governmental austerity, so the FDR spiel fell flat.
So the "mainstream" media changed their strategy. They needed to mold Obama in the image of a more contemporary president with more fiscal sanity. They needed a president who presided over an economy that actually performed well.
They found Reagan.
If you watched all the media analysis of Obama's recent State of the Union speech, you would've lost count at the number of times pundits dubbed his speech and the ideas therein as "Reaganesque."
And Time magazine -- the same magazine that barely two years earlier basically put Obama's face on FDR's body for a cover story -- published a cover illustration of Reagan putting his arm around Obama, with the headline "Why Obama Loves Reagan."
This is what Time's Peter Beinert had to say. We hope you haven't eaten recently:
"Barack Obama realized long ago that Ronald Reagan was a transformational president who reshaped the nation and its politics. Now Obama is fashioning his own president to follow the Gipper's playbook."
What utter bilge.
Maybe talking heads on the left are congratulating themselves at having accomplished their mission of getting Obama to believe the hype surrounding him -- for the umpteenth time. But smarter people who have even a tiny recollection of history or politics know the truth.
Obama is not like Reagan. He never has been, and he never will be.
Do you actually think Obama is practicing Reaganomics -- cutting government regulations, government spending and income taxes? He's doing the opposite!
Obama is exploding the size and reach of government through health-care reform. His Democratic Congress helped choreograph that and other unprecedented federal power grabs. When Congress doesn't cooperate, he dictates what he wants done -- such as having the Environmental Protection Agency regulate all carbon dioxide emissions. And do you think for a second he wants to bring down one dime of your taxes?
But you know what's even more incredulous than the mainstream media's attempts to graft Reagan and Obama together like some bizarre Siamese twins? The left's collective amnesia about the Reagan years. Here are the liberal media propping up Obama hand in hand with Reagan -- but the media hated Reagan.
Here's what CBS News slipped into a report on riots in Miami in January 1989:
"After eight years of what many saw as the Reagan administration's benign neglect of the poor and studied indifference to civil rights, a lot of those who lived through this week in Overtown seemed to think the best thing about George Bush is that he is not Ronald Reagan. ... There is an Overtown in every big city in America. Pockets of misery made even meaner and more desperate the past eight years."
NBC's Bryant Gumbel said this in July 1989:
"Largely as a result of the policies and priorities of the Reagan Administration, more people are becoming poor and staying poor in this country than at any time since World War II."
Of course, Census tables prove Gumbel wrong. As a percentage of the total population, the percentage of people below the poverty level remained almost stationary, from 12.95 percent in 1980 to 13 percent in 1988.
Obama isn't another FDR. He isn't another Reagan. Obama is Obama -- whatever that is.
It tells you we still don't know what it is -- if the same media can package him as both the biggest liberal and most conservative presidents in U.S. history.